Epilepsy and Sleep

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sleep apnea. In fact, a University of Michigan study found that as many as one third of epilepsy patients also has sleep apnea. The University of Michigan researchers also found that epilepsy patients who have sleep apnea were more likely to have seizures at night than epilepsy patients without sleep apnea. These results highlight the need for further investigation into whether receiving treatment for sleep apnea lessens the frequency and severity of epileptic seizures.

Children with epilepsy must cope with a variety of problems as a result of their disorder that goes beyond seizure control. Sleep problems are among the most critical. A team of researchers from the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada recently conducted a study of the sleep patterns of children with epilepsy and the sleep patterns of their siblings without epilepsy. The results indicate that epileptic children had a significantly higher rate of sleep disturbance and that their disturbed sleep is associated with greater social and attention problems and a reduced quality of life. They also have a higher rate of attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome and other learning, emotional and behavioral difficulties compared to children without epilepsy. The results of this study support the idea that healthy sleep is essential for children with epilepsy.

If you are the parent of a child with epilepsy, it is very important that you make healthy sleep a priority for yourself as well. A recent study done by researchers at West Virginia University looked at the sleep habits of 50 parents of children under the age of 5 with epilepsy. They found that these parents slept 4 hours per night on average and that they woke up an average of 3 times per night to check on their children. A secondary finding in this study showed a correlation between nighttime awakenings and reports of decreased marital satisfaction and maternal health. If your child has epilepsy, pay careful attention to your sleep habits. If you or your spouse is having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about ways in which to address the problem.

According to the National Institutes of Health,

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