Nocturnal Epilepsy

What Is Nocturnal Epilepsy?

As the name implies, those suffering from nocturnal epilepsy experience seizures during the night time hours, usually, though not always, when they are asleep. If the individual is awakened by the seizure, or less likely, already awake, he or she almost always falls into a deep sleep following the seizure.

Another person observing this behavior, may often mistake it for a simple nightmare, especially if the seizure is relatively mild. More severe symptoms may involve involuntary movements, such as clenching of the fists, waving the arms, bending the knees, and opening and closing the jaws. The movements are sometime accompanied by crying, moaning, or shouting.

Normal Sleep Cycle Is Disturbed - In almost all cases, those who experience nocturnal epilepsy seizures also experience seizures during the day. To experience seizures only at night is considered to be rather rare. The victim may be unaware of the seizures when the symptoms are quite mild, but in most cases will be briefly awakened. Deep sleep is disturbed however and even though the person usually falls back into a rather deep sleep almost immediately, the sleep cycle has to begin all over again, and the effects may be felt the next day or for several days.

Treatment for nocturnal epilepsy usually involves the same kinds of medication used to treat other forms of epilepsy. One of the problems facing one experiencing these seizures is, unless they are quite pronounced or severe, the patient may simply choose to ignore them, figuring no real harm is being done and therefore undergoing lengthy or permanent treatment may not be worth the effort. One argument, which does have some merit, is that since the person is in bed, he or she is not apt to get hurt by any convulsions. The problem however is that the sleep cycle is disturbed and the patient may end up feeling the same effects that an insomniac experiences. The quality of life, over time, will almost certainly be impacted.

Different Names For Different Times - Nocturnal seizures do not necessarily occur in the middle of the night. They can occur at any time, but most often when a person is in a rather deep sleep. Sometimes the seizures come when a person is about to awaken, and may even occur during the day when a person is awakening for a light nap.

A seizure which occurs when one is awakening in the morning can have negative effects on that person, in terms of feelings of fatigue or malaise, for the remainder of the day. Such seizures are known as being a result of awakening grand mal epilepsy. Seizures which occur during the night and during deep sleep are called clonic-tonic seizures and are believed to occur due to activities happening in the frontal lobe of the brain.

As mentioned before, a person having night seizures may or may not be aware of what they are but usually are aware that something is going on. It may require an electroencephalogram test as well as other tests to confirm that what has happened was really a seizure, although if the person has a history of epilepsy, bouts of nocturnal epileptic seizures might be expected.

Symptoms Should Not Be Ignored - An epileptic seizure usually frightens others more than frightening the victim, and seizures resulting from nocturnal epilepsy would certainly be no exception. The affected person should undergo treatment, first and foremost to avoid the possibility of self-inflicted injury, but also with the idea of enabling a normal lifestyle to be followed, which given the proper course of treatment, should be a realizable goal. Others in the family will benefit from a good night's sleep as well.