Article by Jenifer
Suffering from sleep deprivation can have a lot of adverse side effects, and sleeplessness is even more dangerous if the person has epilepsy. Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder and is associated with the seizures sufferers acquire involuntarily. The seizures are symptoms of an excessive, abnormal, or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain. It is estimated that fifty million people all over the world has epilepsy or has experienced epilepsy at one point in their lives.
Although not all epilepsies are permanent, there is no cure for it. Medications can help control epileptic shocks but epilepsy itself either lasts for certain stages of childhood or it could very well be a lifelong affliction. Also, epilepsy in itself is not a single syndrome. There are numerous precipitating factors for its occurrence, and it all culminates as an abnormal activity in the brain which causes the shock.
Although most epilepsy shocks happen spontaneously or at random, there can be triggers for epilepsy. Shock during drug and alcohol withdrawal is not considered epilepsy. The triggers can be normal day to day activities. These are called normal provocants, and it can include reading, hot water on the head, and hyperventilation. Flashing or flickering lights is a special type of reflex epilepsy called photosensitive epilepsy. Though popularly known as an epileptic trigger, only two to fourteen percent of epilepsy sufferers are affected by it. Environmental factors that can lead to an epileptic shock or seizures can be sleeping, or hypnogogia (which is the transition between being unconscious state of sleeping and waking state). Menstruation, constipation, stress and anxiety and alcohol can be other epileptic triggers.
Moreover, sleep deprivation, as most doctors and researchers have found out, is also linked with epilepsy. Epilepsy and sleep deprivation can work both ways: epilepsy can make it difficult for sufferers to go to sleep at night, and sleeplessness in turn, can lead to an epileptic shock. Epilepsy is not limited during a person’s waking state: there can be full or partial seizures during sleeping. People who are epileptic are also more likely to develop sleeping disorders compared to the rest. Insomnia is not the only adverse effect of epilepsy. Epileptics are also more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea (restriction in the airways, causing pauses in breathing while asleep), restless leg syndrome, among others.
Medications to control the seizures can also be the cause why epileptics have a harder time sleeping. It has been found that these medicines can cut their sleeping time or cause erratic sleeping habits. What is worse is that since being deprived of sleep can cause more seizures, and epilepsy (and medications) can cause sleep deprivation, epileptics can be caught in a vicious cycle. It is just like connecting the dots: since sleep deprivation can affect the brain, and epilepsy shock is caused by episodic abnormal electrical activity in the brain, the link between epilepsy and sleep deprivation is a dangerous combination.
Dealing with both epilepsy and sleep deprivation is a serious matter. One has to consult a doctor, and epileptics might need to change their daily habits, their environment, and so on. It takes a great deal of effort, but with the help of doctors and professionals, it can be managed.
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