Nocturnal seizures are a type of seizure activity that takes place during the hours of sleep. Nocturnal seizures occur when the person is sleeping or when drowsy. These seizures usually occur minutes before waking up, or just after waking. Nocturnal seizures can also occur when the person is sleeping during the day. Most people who have nocturnal seizures will not be aware they have had a seizure, because they were asleep when the seizure activity occurred. These seizures can occur in anyone of any age.
Causes of nocturnal seizures
The causes of nocturnal seizures may be related to head trauma. A person that has nocturnal seizures may have sustained a recent head injury, or an injury to the head that happened long ago. Nocturnal seizures can manifest many years after a head injury. Other causes of this syndrome may be related to:
A brain infection
Existence of brain tumors
Problems with brain development prior to birth
Rapid rise in body temperature
Treatment of nocturnal seizures in adults
If you have nocturnal seizures, go see your doctor as soon as possible. Treatment of nocturnal seizures in adults begins with an appointment with a neurologist or sleep specialist. The attending physician will probably suggest you have a sleep study done. A sleep study can be done at a sleep lab or at home. Many doctors have a computerized sleep study apparatus that you can put on your head prior to going to sleep. The computer inside will record the position your body is in when you are asleep and it will also record your brain activity, heart rate and respirations while you are asleep.
If you go to a sleep lab, you will have electrodes applied to your scalp, similarly to the electrodes that is on the at home version of a sleep study. You will be observed throughout the night. If you have nighttime seizure activity, it will be recorded and witnessed by the sleep study professionals. A diagnosis may be made after the sleep study has been interpreted. If there is seizure activity, medications (anti-seizure drugs) can be used to stop or minimize the seizure activity.
Treatment of nocturnal seizures in children
Treatment of nocturnal seizures in children will depend on the child’s age, weight, health condition, and the type of seizure they are having. In a few children, nocturnal seizures can stop when the child gets a little older, while other children will need medications indefinitely to stop or control seizure activity.
If you are taking epilepsy medication to control your nocturnal seizures, you should take some safety precautions. Sleeping in a bed that is low to the floor and padded at the headboard will help to prevent injuries during a nighttime seizure. It is also a good idea to have padding on the floor next to the side of your bed to prevent injury if you should fall. Finally, take a look at your lifestyle. Any changes you can make such as reducing stress, avoiding caffeine from the diet may also help to form a restful sleeping routine.
Nocturnal seizures in children