There is a definite relationship between sleep and epilepsy.
Sometimes sleep activates the electrical activity in the brain that can cause seizures and for many, seizures at specific times during the sleep-wake cycle. Then there are some types of epilepsy where seizures occur only during sleep.
When seizures happen during sleep, they cause awakenings that are sometimes confused with insomnia or sleep disorders. People with epilepsy are not often aware of seizures that happen during sleep and may suffer for years from daytime sleepiness and concentration problems without knowing why.
For people with epilepsy, sleep problems are a double-edged sword;
So if someone has regular seizures, particularly during sleep, this will greatly affect their functioning during the day.
On the other hand, not enough sleep or any problems that disturb sleep can trigger a seizure. In fact, some people suffer their first or only seizure in life after exam time!
It is also important to bear in mind that lack of sleep is often caused by factors such as alcohol, stress or illness which can all increase the risk of seizures.
This is why it is so important to have a good night’s sleep on a regular basis if you have epilepsy.
But a simple definition of a good night’s sleep is one that leaves you feeling refreshed the next day.
It is not only the quantity, but the quality, of sleep that matters.
Anyone who has problems with daytime drowsiness or difficulties with memory and concentration, even when they seem to be spending enough hours sleeping, may need a change of medication or a sleep assessment.
Medications used to treat epilepsy may also affect sleep. It really depends on the medication, as they all act differently.
If you feel that your antiepileptic drug is affecting sleep, then it is important to get it reviewed by the neurologist and see if any changes are able to be made.
Importantly, enough sleep is good for our health, so try to do as much as you can to get good sleep quality and time.
Here are some sleep tips:
Click on the play button to hear Ashia’s take on sleep.