Epilepsy and Sleep

Home >> Sleep Disorders Problems >> Epilepsy and Sleep

between 1.5% and 5.0% of Americans have a seizure at some point in their lives and about 0.5% have epilepsy. For most people, epilepsy is a lifelong condition. However, the majority of people with epilepsy are able to prevent seizures with medication and lead normal lives. In some cases, the need for medication may be reduced or eliminated over time or once a patient enters adulthood. On the other hand, it is very important that people with epilepsy take proper precautions to avoid accidents as a result of their condition. Serious injuries can result if seizures occur while driving or operating machinery.


Epilepsy affects people in varying degrees. Epileptic seizures range from simple staring spells to loss of consciousness and violent convulsions. The type of seizure a person has depends on a number of factors, such as what triggered the seizure and where in the brain it originates. Most seizures only last a minute or two and are accompanied by an aura or euphoric sensation that occurs prior to the event and may last for several minutes after the event.

Different types of seizures include:

  • Petit mal seizure – symptoms of petit mal seizures include a brief loss of consciousness, little or no movement, and a blank stare. They occur most often in children and may be mistaken for a learning disability.
  • Grand mal seizure – symptoms of grand mal seizures include violent body contractions, loss of consciousness, a pause in breathing, urinary incontinence, tongue or cheek biting, and confusion and weakness following the event.
  • Partial seizures - symptoms include muscle contractions or jerking movements in certain parts of the body, sensations such as numbness or tingling, nausea, sweating and dilated pupils. Partial seizures affect only a portion of the brain and consciousness is maintained.
  • Partial complex seizures – symptoms of partial complex seizures include a blank stare, unresponsiveness, automated non-purposeful movements, inappropriate emotions, strange smell or taste hallucinations, and loss of consciousness.



Any plan for the treatment of epilepsy will include a physician-prescribed drug regimen for the control of seizures. However, it is important that physicians

Learn about how sleep impacts your health
Powered by National Sleep Foundation