'Sleep hygiene' should be integrated into epilepsy diagnosis & management
Children with epilepsy sleep poorly compared to healthy children, and are more likely to experience disruptions such as night terrors, sleep walking or sleep disordered breathing, according to a new study. A team at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health analysed 19 published studies on sleep and epilepsy in children and adolescents to try to better understand and articulate the links between them.
Their findings, published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, highlight the significantly poorer sleep experienced by children and adolescents with epilepsy, and present a strong argument for screening children for sleep problems as an integral part of diagnosis and management of the condition.
In their detailed literature analysis, the researchers found children with epilepsy slept, on average, 34 minutes less per night than those without epilepsy and had significantly more episodes of night waking or parasomnias – including night terrors and sleep walking. They also had poorer sleep quality and a higher percentage of light sleep than healthy children. These were evident in the literature via both objective measurements such as wearing a sleep tracking watch, and subjective evidence supplied via patient and carer questionnaires.
The researchers also found that children with drug-resistant epilepsy appeared most vulnerable to sleep disturbances, although more research is necessary into whether this is caused by medication or by recurrent seizures.