Nocturnal seizures occur in a person while he is in a state of drowsiness or is sleeping. They can occur a few minutes after the person has slept or just before he is about to awake. They can even occur in a person, if he is sleeping during the day. People, who experience this, may be unaware that a seizure has occurred during their sleep. Occurrence of these seizures, can however, be identified by the headache, which the person may be experiencing when he wakes up from sleep or through some other out-of-the-way and destructive behavior that he might display during the day. They affect both, children as well as adults. Below are the causes as well as treatment options for this condition.
- Nocturnal seizures may occur if a person suffers from head injuries or trauma, caused due to an object hitting the head or, if the head has been bumped against a hard surface. It can even start years after the head injury has actually occurred.
- Intake of alcohol in excess or other toxic substances, such as drugs may trigger an epileptic attack in the person too. Many times, it's been observed that people, who are trying to get rid of these toxic substances may experience seizures as a withdrawal symptom.
- An infection of the brain is another reason behind a person experiencing this condition.
- Presence of brain tumors
- Problems with brain development before birth and certain hereditary conditions.
- Lead poisoning, meningitis and encephalitis, are some other causes behind such epileptic seizures.
- A rise in the temperature of the body or fever can cause these seizures in children. The ones which are caused due to fever in children are known as febrile seizures. It might be a temporary condition in children, and may not lead to epilepsy in them in their later life.
- Although it is not confirmed, certain researches have shown that diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) vaccine could also be a possible cause of these seizures in children.
Treatment for nocturnal seizures in adults, starts with an appointment with a sleep specialist or a neurologist. These physicians recommend a sleep study, which lasts for a night, in which, complete video monitoring of a person's sleep is done. This helps in identifying the type of seizure that has occurred, i.e., generalized, partial, or status epilepticus, based on the epileptic symptoms present. Afterwards, based on the findings, appropriate medication is recommended. The Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), have been successful in preventing these seizures to a great extent.
For children, the medication depends upon a number of factors such as, the weight and age of the child, his health condition, and of course, the kind of seizure he is experiencing. Seizures in children may stop as they grow old, while in others, long-term medication may be required to control them.
Apart from the epilepsy medication, a patient should take a number of other precautions while sleeping. He should sleep on a low bed, which has padded headboards, should avoid using pillows, keep furniture away from the bed, so that no injury occurs in case he falls because of an epileptic attack, should keep safety mats next to the bed in case of a fall, and lastly should avoid smoking in bed. Also, having a comfortable and stress-free sleep is very important. For that, eliminating caffeine from the diet, following certain relaxation techniques, and forming a fixed sleeping routine and pattern is very essential.