Lack of proper sleep, insufficient or problems that disrupts sleep can increase the chances of having a seizure, as well as the seizure's intensity and the duration.
However is not only the quantity, but the quality, of sleep that matters. A simple definition of a good nights' sleep is that it leaves a person feeling refreshed the next day.
It is unclear why sleep deprivation provokes seizures, however the sleep-wake cycle is associated with changes in brain electrical activity and hormonal activity, so seizures and the sleep-wake cycle are closely related.
Children need more sleep than adults. If a child consistently has more seizures when he or she does not sleep enough, reasons for this should be recognised and avoided in future.
Having sleepovers can be an important part of your child’s social development. If you are anxious about your child going to a sleepover, in case they have a seizure, the best thing is to discuss concerns with the other parents as well as your child so they understand your reasons for being wary. An easy solution may be to have the sleepover at your house but inevitably circumstances will mean it needs to be at a friend’s house at some point – such as for birthday parties. An initial step may be to pick your child up at an agreed time before bedtime and then work up to them staying overnight.
There are ways to reduce your anxiety and ensure your child’s safety.
- Make sure the friend’s parents are aware your child has epilepsy, knows what their seizures look like, how to manage them and check the parents are comfortable doing this.
- Ensure the other children at the sleepover know about your child’s epilepsy and that they need to get an adult should a seizure occur.
- Where relevant, discuss the management of any triggers with the friend’s parents and your child – such as staying up too late and playing computer games for long periods without a break.