can you have a seizure in your sleep can you have a seizure in your sleep

Can You Have a Seizure in Your Sleep? 3 Proven Treatments

Stress, anxiety, stopping medications, and even lack of sleep trigger seizures in individuals with epilepsy – but can you have a seizure in your sleep?

Seizures occur when nerve cell function in the brain gets disrupted, and therefore activities involving too much stress or excitement are bad for epileptic patients. However, why can you have a seizure in your sleep if that is the case?

Nocturnal seizures happen when a person is asleep and is thus a complicated thing to diagnose. But with this guide you can find all the answers related to – can you have a seizure in your sleep, its causes, prevention, and treatment.

1. Understanding Nocturnal Seizures – Can You Have a Seizure in Your Sleep?

Before you find out the answer – you can have a seizure in your sleep; first, you will need to understand what a nocturnal seizure is.

Seizures happen when there is unusual electrical action in the brain, and nocturnal seizures occur while an individual is asleep. As nocturnal seizures only happen when someone is asleep, and diagnosis can be difficult, mainly if no one is there with the person to observe them.

can you have a seizure in your sleep
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Nocturnal seizures are generally a category of seizure known as a tonic-clonic seizure. Usually, those who suffer from nighttime convulsions of this type have epilepsy.

These kinds of seizures are rare and usually only happen in patients with epilepsy.

Numerous chemicals trigger normal electrical activity that is important in daily reasoning or thought processes, movements, and other brain functions. ADuringa seizure, an unexpected wave of unusual electrical activity results in an individual losing power over a few or many ouch functions and activities.

There are numerous distinct kinds of seizures, and any of them can occur during sleep. Some people wake up with an aura before a complex partial seizure. Having these episodes without recollection of them the day after is not unusual.

Auras Before Seizure | Warning Signs of a Seizure | Best Neurologist in Vasai, Mumbai - Dr Amit Shah

Usually, most nocturnal attacks of this kind are tonic-clonic in nature. During the tonic stage, an individual’s muscles stiffen and go through spasms. Thus, during such an episode of seizure, the person can bite their tongue or fail to control their bladder or bowels due to losing control over their muscles.

Lack of sleep is known to be a familiar seizure stimulus among those with epilepsy, but then why and how can you have a seizure in your sleep?

There are many causes behind nocturnal seizures and plenty of symptoms to recognize an upcoming tonic-clonic seizure beforehand.

2. Causes and Symptoms of Nocturnal Seizures

So what triggers a seizure in someone, and how can you recognize the warnings?

Identifying that a person has epilepsy does not clarify why they have convulsions. Medical professionals diagnose patients with epilepsy only if they have more than two seizures that are indeed not caused by any other underlying cause or injury, like a high fever, alcohol or medication withdrawal, or a concussion. In the mentioned cases, the seizures generally stop on their own after the first one or two.

In those cases, when the patient gets seizures, they are diagnosed with epilepsy.

2.1) The Causes of Nocturnal Seizures

This brings back the question – can you have a seizure in your sleep? Yes, you can. But what are the causes behind nocturnal seizures? The reasons are more or less the same as those for general episodes, with some added ones. Those with epilepsy are also more susceptible to sleep disorders like sleep apnea, night terrors, sleepwalking, and narcolepsy. Among some of the ordinary and probable causes of epilepsy are:

  • Genetics
  • Brain Injury or Trauma
  • A Brain Disease
  • Strokes and Alzheimer’s in case of aged adults
  • Tumors
  • Infections like meningitis or encephalitis
  • Hereditary conditions, such as Down’s syndrome

Particular kinds of epilepsy are further probable for causing nocturnal seizures. These are awakening tonic-clonic seizures, adolescent benign rolandic epilepsy, Landau-Kleffner disorder, frontal lobe epilepsy, and juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay Copyright 2015

2.2) The Symptoms of Nocturnal Seizures

Those who suffer from nocturnal seizures are generally unaware of having them. Indications of nocturnal seizures are frequently more challenging to recognize as those with them are asleep.

Epileptic seizures can happen at any period while an individual is awake or sleeping. Studies have demonstrated that roughly twenty percent of people with epilepsy suffer from nocturnal seizures. Around forty percent have them while awake, and the remaining thirty-five percent are likely to suffer from convulsions while both awake and asleep.

Sleep seizures most commonly happen:

  • Just after falling asleep
  • Before waking up
  • Just after waking up

Indications that may imply that an individual has had a seizure during sleep can include the following:

  • Bitten tongue and cheek
  • Failure of bladder control
  • Unexplained headaches or bruises

Convulsions during sleep can also result in involuntary physical movements and symptoms like:

  • Body jerks, shakes, and spasms
  • Stiff arms and legs
  • Crying out or making noises while asleep
  • Falling out of the bed
  • Cyanosis (skin and lips becoming blue)
  • Foamy Salivation

After a seizure, the patient can be relatively challenged to wake up from slumber. They seem dazed, confused, and tired the following day.

So the answer to the question – can you have a seizure in your sleep, is yes. But what are the possible measures to prevent such episodes, and what are the treatments? In this guide, you can find the most effective ways to treat nocturnal seizures.

Epilepsy Treatment
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3. Can You Have a Seizure in Your Sleep? 3 Effective Treatments

Now that you have found the explanation of whether – you can have a seizure in your sleep and the relation between sleep and epilepsy, it is essential to learn about the methods of prevention and treatments.

The medical field focused on the treatment of seizures and epilepsy is still in need of more research and studies, along with finding effective cures for convulsions. However, some procedures are considered to be helpful in the prevention of seizures.

3.1) AEDs (Antiepileptic Medications)

Antiepileptic drugs are generally the primary means to treat seizures. They can effectively attend to the symptoms but are not a solution for the underlying disease resulting in seizures. Antiepileptic medications function by slowing the excess amount of irregular electrical signals and thus manage to reduce the symptoms of epilepsy.

For around seventy percent of patients, AEDs are beneficial for preventing seizures. Among some of the most used and common names of antiepileptic medicines, you will find Brivaracetam, Carbamazepine, Diazepam, Cannabidiol, and Lorazepam.

These medications can take numerous months before the ideal medicine and dosage are selected and adjusted. At the time of the duration for change, you may need to take frequent tests to find out how the medication is affecting your health and disorder. Different approaches will need to be taken. in case of any serious side effects

Epilepsy Medication
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3.2) Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic diet therapies are among the most known and accepted forms of diet used for patients who have epilepsy and suffer from seizures.

The ketogenic nourishment method is mainly characterized by high-fat, high-protein, and low-carbohydrate-containing foods. This form of diet is believed to lessen seizures in many cases, especially for those who react to AEDs unfavorably.

3.3) Surgical Procedures

Surgery may be the only option when all else fails to provide help and stop or lessen seizures. Epileptic surgery consists of removing a part of the brain that is believed to be causing the seizures.

The main purpose of epilepsy surgery is to lessen or eradicate epileptic seizures. Several techniques could essentially end seizures for a long time, even many years.

However, these surgeries are not without risks and are often done as a last resort – when both ketogenic diet therapy and AEDs fail. Thorough and careful consultation must be done with a medical professional before one device opts for brain surgery to stop and prevent seizures.

4. FAQs

Still have doubts and queries about nocturnal seizures. Keep reading to find the answers to the most frequently asked questions – can you have an attack in your sleep?

4.1) Can you have a seizure in your sleep?

Even though seizures are generally triggered by stress or anxiety, nocturnal seizures are also a reality.

Seizures happen when your brain has irregular or abnormal electrical activity and loses control over most body functions while asleep and awake.

So as a response to the concern of “Can you have a seizure in your sleep?” is, in short, yes, you can. Such seizures usually occur just after falling asleep or waking up.

Seizures in the Night - What are the Causes and What can be Done?

4.2) How to diagnose nocturnal seizures?

Since the person experiencing the seizures is asleep, then, in many cases, nocturnal seizures remain undiagnosed. It can only be observed if someone is with the individual during the time. Then they will be able to keep some specific physical moments like jerking motions, muscle contractions, spasms, crying out, biting tongue or cheek, drooling, or in extreme cases cyanosis 1(blue skin and lips) resulting in an inability to breathe properly. The observer should immediately get medical help in such cases.

Another way to diagnose sleep seizures that can be done in a medical facility is the noninvasive procedure called EEG or an electroencephalogram. Small electrodes and wires are connected to your scalp to oversee brain activity. This test can record the patient’s brain movement and recognize any abnormal activity going on while awake and asleep.

4.3) What are the best ways to prevent and treat nocturnal seizures?

The most common and effective processes that are used in the treatment of nocturnal seizures or daytime seizures, in general, include – antiepileptic medications2, a ketogenic diet, and brain surgery.

There are even some natural remedies for treating nocturnal seizures, some of which have been proven to be quite effective – herbal treatments, vitamins, avoiding stress, and acupuncture therapy3. However, thorough research and proper medical consultation are necessary before attempting any treatment or procedure. In case of any doubts, go for second or third opinions.

4.4) What should you do if you see someone having a nocturnal seizure?

If you ever see somebody having a seizure – either awake or asleep- it is crucial to ensure they are secure and cannot injure themselves. Some measures to take while someone is having a seizure include many steps. First, see that no sharp items are near, and never try to hold the seizing person down. Then, lie them on the ground and put a pillow under their head if possible.

Always ensure they have a clear airway and do not end up choking. For that, put them on their side. And never forget to time the seizure – if it does not stop even after five minutes, call for emergency services.

Another thing to note is checking for cyanosis and if the person is breathing properly. If they are turning blue, immediate medical help is needed.

5. Final Takeaways: Some Eye-Opening Facts

As you have already gathered, seizures occur due to abnormal electrical activity in the human brain though the underlying reason remains frequently unspecified. In some cases and disorders, there is an increased probability for the patient to suffer from nocturnal seizures. So to provide a short and straightforward explanation of “can you have a seizure in your sleep?” the answer is yes.

Usually, nocturnal seizures can be interpreted by an EEG 4or sleep study, and treatments are prescribed accordingly. The most effective and practical methods for treating seizures include AEDs5, the ketogenic diet6, and brain surgery.

Epilepsy Diagnosis
Source: Depositphotos

Nighttime seizures can end up being a significant negative influence on someone’s quality and way of daily life. The good news is that there are now plenty of medical professionals, medications, therapies, surgeries, and other methods that can be helpful.

And by learning all the basics and essential information related to – can you have a seizure in your sleep, its symptoms, causes, and finally, the treatments – you will be more equipped to fight against nocturnal epilepsy.

  1. Rangan, Aruna, et al. “Interpreting sulfhemoglobin and methemoglobin in patients with cyanosis: an overview of patients with M‐hemoglobin variants.” International journal of laboratory hematology 43.4 (2021): 837-844. ↩︎
  2. Ricci, Lorenzo, et al. “Measuring the effects of first antiepileptic medication in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy: Predictive value of quantitative-EEG analysis.” Clinical Neurophysiology 132.1 (2021): 25-35. ↩︎
  3. Li, Rongrong, et al. “Research trends of acupuncture therapy on knee osteoarthritis from 2010 to 2019: a bibliometric analysis.” Journal of Pain Research (2020): 1901-1913. ↩︎
  4. Wan, Zitong, et al. “A review on transfer learning in EEG signal analysis.” Neurocomputing 421 (2021): 1-14. ↩︎
  5. Liang, Li Danny, et al. “Utilization and cost-effectiveness of school and community center AED deployment models in Canadian cities.” Resuscitation 172 (2022): 194-200. ↩︎
  6. O’Neill, Blair, and Paolo Raggi. “The ketogenic diet: Pros and cons.” Atherosclerosis 292 (2020): 119-126. ↩︎

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