Epilepsy is a disorder of the nerves which is characterized by regular seizures or convulsions. Seizures are caused by increased electrical activity in the brain causing the person to lose control of all voluntary muscles in the body. During the convulsions, the epilepsy patient often falls down and loses consciousness. The cause of increased electrical activity in the brain is not known but can be inherited. Majority of people with epilepsy are found to have sleep disorders.
Effects of Epilepsy
Epilepsy and sleeping disorders have a complicated relationship. Here is how they affect each other:
- Sleep disruption increases the frequency of seizures.
- Lack of sleep increases the severity of convulsions.
- Seizures during sleep can cause lack of sleep.
- Fear of night convulsions can cause sleeplessness.
- Drugs used to reduce the frequency of convulsions affect sleep.
- Epilepsy and sleepless each cause loss of memory and concentration. These two problems are worse in the two conditions.
Relationship Between Epilepsy and Sleep Disorders
Epilepsy and sleep disorders are related in a way that can be described as double-edged sword. Poor sleep aggravates seizures; the opposite is also true. During sleep the electrical charges that are responsible for seizures are activated. Seizures have been observed to follow the sleep wake cycle.
In general, about 20% of all convulsions in epilepsy patients are known to occur during sleep. However, some patients experience 100% of their convulsions during sleep as in Rolandic Epilepsy. While this reduces the chances of injury, it severely affects sleep.
Night convulsions in epilepsy are often confused with insomnia. In fact, most patients are not aware of convulsions during sleep. This causes them to suffer from poor concentration and fatigue during the day. This problem can go for a long without cure as the cause is not identified.
Symptoms of Epilepsy
There are virtually no two epileptics who are affected by the disease in the same way. As you already know the main sign and also the most diagnostic is seizure. Epileptic convulsions can vary from simple moments of starring complete loss of consciousness. Some people experience violent convulsions. There are many types of seizures which differ in terms of the trigger factor and the place in the brain they originate. Most convulsions last for 2 minutes. The most common types include:
- Petit mal – its last for only a few seconds and mostly involves a blank stare. In children, it is often confused with many things including learning disability.
- Grand mal- The epileptic person’s body shakes violently and loses consciousness. In this state, incontinence, tongue and teeth biting are common.
- Partial seizures: more often that not, the patient does not lose consciousness as not the whole brain is affected. The person may lose control of certain muscles of the body.
- Partial Complex seizures: the person experiences partial stare at times. At other times they may lose consciousness or behave inappropriately.
As you can see, sleeplessness and epilepsy affect each other in a complex way. However, if the seizures are reduced, the person will get good sleep. Currently, there is no medication that can completely eliminate seizures; there aim is usually to reduce the frequency. One of the best coping for coping with epilepsy measures is to identify the most common triggers and avoid or treat them. Epilepsy Triggers can include but not limited to:
- Some drugs.
It is very important that a person with epilepsy takes all their medication on time. They should also inform the people around them at work or a new place about the condition and tell them what to do if it happens. Here tips on how to cope with an epileptic person:
- Make the seizure comfortable by removing any object that can hurt them.
- Cushion the person’s head.
- Loosen all clothes especially around the neck
Things you should never to an Epileptic:
- Try to restrain the convulsions.
- Put any objects in the mouth.
- The person should not be moved unless they are in danger.