How is Sleep and Epilepsy Related?

January 17, 2014

Brain Seizure

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects almost the entire nervous system. In a nutshell, it’s a condition in which the patient is prone to having seizures characterized by something as simple as a loss of consciousness and disorientation to violent jerking and shaking.

Epilepsy isn’t all that rare, since 50 million people in the world have that condition. It’s mainly genetic or idiopathic and affects anyone of any age and stage in life without discrimination. But for epileptics (and I am one of them), how does sleep play a role in triggering and possibly even avoiding the manifestation of epilepsy – seizures?

  • Some seizures only occur during sleep

Epilepsy is pretty random and can strike the patient with a seizure anytime, except of course for some triggers which specifically and directly activate a seizure. However, thanks to modern medication, seizures are now more and more controllable. But some epileptics have something that’s called Rolandic epilepsy which triggers the seizures exclusively at night.

Sleep isn’t the main reason for this type of epilepsy, of course. The direct causes vary from person to person even if they have the same epileptic conditions, but transcending all this is the fact that sleep stimulates electrical pulses in the brain that cause seizures. That doesn’t mean that seizures happen every night for people with Rolandic epilepsy; It just gives their epilepsy a “chance to shine” only at night.

Lack of Sleep

  • Lack of sleep causes seizures

Among epileptics, sleep is extremely important. A person who doesn’t have the said condition still needs the right amount of sleep, but even if they spend several nights in a row with less than 3 hours of sleep, they’re not in danger of having seizures. But of course, the case is different when it comes to epileptics.

Fatigue is a main promoter of seizures since the brain requires a lot of rest in order to function properly and efficiently. However, that doesn’t mean that sleep can completely take the place of preventive medication. The goal of treatment in epilepsy is for the patient to live a life as normal as possible without having to be hindered by the ramifications of epilepsy. A right balance of quantity and quality of sleep will be effectively helpful for epileptics.

For great, uninterrupted sleep, be sure to (1) eat the right food at the right time, (2) conform to a healthy sleeping schedule, and (3) invest in a quality foam, provided by URATEX Philippines, of course.

  • Medication may affect sleeping pattern

The medication taken by epileptics is used to prevent the convulsion from happening completely or at least lessen its occurrence. Epilepsy isn’t exactly a curable disease – it’s only controllable once a person is diagnosed with it. However, medication isn’t always the ultimate solution in this case.

Some medications for epileptics may affect their sleeping pattern negatively to the point of possibly even disrupting sleep. This is very unfortunate since lack of sleep can already aggravate the condition. But the good thing is that sleep disruption caused by medication only usually happens when the patient is only beginning to take the medication or is switching to another one.

Epilepsy isn’t a piece of cake. It takes a lot of coping, understanding, and patience. Growing up with epilepsy taught me that since I’m not allowed to take anything with caffeine, alcohol, or get tired too much or be deprived of sleep, I might as well make the most out of it by enjoying the alternatives. The general rule is simple – since epileptics aren’t allowed to be sleep deprived, then they might as well make the most out of the “requirements!”

Do you know anyone who’s epileptic? Perhaps you yourself have been coping with this condition for a few years now? Feel free to share you stories with us on the comment section below.