Sleep and Epilepsy

There are some types of epilepsy where seizures can be related to sleep. Three of the more common are generalized tonic-clonic seizures on awakening, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, and benign epilepsy of childhood with centrotemporal spikes.

  1. Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) In JME, your seizures usually happen shortly after waking. They may happen at other times when you are very tired. Not having enough sleep could make your seizures more likely.
  2. Benign epilepsy of childhood with centrotemporal spikes (Benign rolandic epilepsy). If you have this type of epilepsy, you will have focal (partial) seizures, in your sleep. Occasionally, you might have seizures when you are awake.
  3. Focal (partial) seizures. In focal seizures, epileptic activity starts in just a part of your brain and it is common for focal seizures to happen while you are asleep.

Why it’s important to get enough sleep

It is vital to get enough sleep so that you can have more energy, think more clearly and react faster. To help you with this, keep regular sleeping hours and use what helps you to wind down before sleep.

Possible effects of seizures on sleep

If you have a seizure during your sleep, it affects your sleep for the rest of the night. Your sleep becomes lighter, and you wake more often. If it’s not possible to control all your seizures, you should try to catch up on missed sleep, particularly in the day or two after a seizure.

Possible effects of epilepsy medicine on sleep

Most people with epilepsy take epilepsy medicines to control their seizures. Like all types of medicine, epilepsy medicines can have unwanted side-effects.The following epilepsy medicines may have sleep-related side effects.

  • Ethosuximide sleep disturbances, night terrors
  • Lamotrigine insomnia (difficulty sleeping), sleep disturbance
  • Pregabalin insomnia, abnormal dreams
  • Topiramate sleep disturbance
  • Gabapentin
  • Levetiracetam
  • Phenytoin
  • Rufinamide
  • Topirimate
  • Zonisamide insomnia

If you are concerned that your epilepsy medicine is causing side effects, speak with your doctor. They may be able to help.

Information taken from Epilepsy Action –

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