Epilepsy and Sleep

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures caused by surges of electrical signals in the brain. The increase in electrical activity may cause various symptoms, from simply staring blankly for a few seconds to full-fledged convulsions where the body shakes violently.

Approximately 0.5 percent of people have epilepsy, according to the National Institutes of Health, and another 1.5 to 5 percent of people have a seizure at some point in their lives. Seizures can result from a number of conditions, such as head injuries, low blood sugar, drug use, or alcohol withdrawal. There is no known cause for epilepsy.

Seizures are just the tip of the iceberg for people affected with epilepsy. They may also be affected by cognitive, social and other medical issues. Fortunately, epilepsy can be controlled with medication and most people who have epilepsy live normal, long lives. Sometimes the need for medication can even be reduced or eliminated once a patient reaches adulthood.

Sleep Disorders and Epilepsy

Sleep and epilepsy both respond to the electrical charges in the brain which can result in seizures. Some people suffering from epilepsy only experience seizures in their sleep, resulting in frequent waking. This form of epilepsy can be easily confused with insomnia, as epileptics are usually unaware of their nighttime seizures. Epileptics may suffer years of daytime fatigue and difficulty concentrating without knowing the real cause of their problem.

Epileptics face a difficult situation with sleep, as epilepsy disturbs sleep and, in turn, the sleep deprivation aggravates their condition. One of the triggers for seizures is a lack of sleep, so it is important to practice good sleep habits to avoid them. Case studies have also shown that medications used to treat epileptic disorders may also disrupt sleep. Before taking any form of medication for epilepsy, be sure to discuss with your doctor risks and potential side effects in relation to your sleep schedule.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Epilepsy

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common problem for people with epilepsy. OSA is a sleep disorder where a person stops breathing repeatedly at night due to a blocked airway and the brain signals the person to wake up to resume breathing. A University of Michigan study found that as many as one-third of epileptics also has sleep apnea. Also, those epilepsy patients with sleep apnea are more likely to have nighttime seizures than epileptics without sleep apnea.

Children, Epilepsy and Sleep

Epileptic children have to cope with many problems beyond their seizure disorder. Their frequent sleep disturbances can lead to greater social and attention problems, as well as learning, emotional and behavioral difficulties in comparison to children without epilepsy. This suggests that healthy sleep habits are critical for epileptic children. It is also important that parents of children with epilepsy make sleep a priority for themselves, as many parents of epileptic children wake up frequently at night to check on their children. This can lead to decreased marital and familial satisfaction and health problems.

If you are interested in finding out more about epilepsy treatment and how it can benefit your sleeping habits, call The Los Angeles Sleep Study Institute at 1-855-690-0563 and one of our representatives will be happy to answer any of your questions.