Sleep and Epilepsy
Pp. 72-75 (4)
Silvia Neme-Mercante and Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer
There is a substantial amount of evidence linking sleep and epilepsy. In both adults and children with epilepsy, sleep and sleep deprivation can precipitate seizures. EEG recordings are more likely to reveal abnormalities during sleep than during the awake state. There are some types of epilepsy that are characterized by seizures arising exclusively during sleep or immediately upon awakening.
One of the most common complaints of people with epilepsy is daytime sleepiness or fatigue. Despite the potential impact of these complaints on a person's quality of life, little research has been done in this area. Sleepiness and fatigue are often attributing to the effects of seizures or ant-seizure medications. However, recent studies suggest that people with epilepsy may be at particular risk for sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, which can also contribute to fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Furthermore, exciting preliminary data suggest that treating sleep problems may improve seizure control. As a result, people with epilepsy, particularly if seizures have continued despite appropriate treatment, should be evaluated for sleep disorders.
People with daytime sleepiness, difficulty falling or staying asleep, or breathing disturbances during sleep should consult their physician. An overnight sleep study (polysomnogram; PSG) sometimes combined with electroencephalography (EEG) can diagnose common sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
Associate Professor of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, Director, Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute, 9500 Euclid Avenue, FA20, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA.