The Dilemmas of Seizures at Night or Other Predictable Times

Alarm Clock
Community Corner: July 6, 2016
Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Seizures that occur only at night or upon awakening can pose different challenges for people. On one hand, some people think that seizures at night cause less problems. The seizures may not interfere with their ability to work and do other daytime activities. In some states, people with seizures only at night may be able to drive at certain times of day. Some people may feel that the predictability of knowing when a seizure may occur may be easier to prepare for and manage than seizures that occur randomly. 

Yet, other people will have trouble functioning normally during the day after seizures the night before or after waking up. Aftereffects of a tonic-clonic seizure can last hours and affect energy, sleepiness, attention, thinking, memory and more. 

This week, Dr. Angel Hernandez tells us about an epilepsy syndrome with tonic-clonic seizures upon awakening. When a person has seizures at night, shortly after waking up, or any specific time of day, don’t underestimate them! Seizures at any time of day can be dangerous and should not be ignored. Use what you know to help you assess your risks, take steps to help control them, and keep yourself safe. 

A few tips to think about:

  • Tracking the time of day seizures occur and any other patterns can help you and your health care provider diagnose the seizure type and syndrome more accurately. Knowing the epilepsy syndrome often tells you more about the epilepsy. Is it a form that may go away on its own or that responds to medicine? Or is it a type of epilepsy that is hard to treat or may be associated with other problems?
  • Review the times you take seizure medicine with your health care provider. When seizures occur in the early morning, your provider may suggest that you take a higher dose at night than in the morning. Sometimes taking the morning dose right when you wake up and before you get out of bed helps prevent seizures in early morning hours. Don’t change times on your own as each medicine may be a bit different. Talk to your health care team about what makes sense for you. 
  • Think about your day and how seizures at night or early morning may affect you. If you are overly tired or having problems with memory or attention, are you having more seizures than you are aware of? Sometimes video EEG recording can help sort this out. 
  • What is your home and life like at this time of day? Are there safety risks to be concerned about? Do you live with someone who can check on you at that time of day to make sure you’re okay? If not, can you arrange to have someone call you? Would a seizure alert system make sense for you? 
  • When you have a seizure, do you ask observers to write down what they see and what time of day it happened? They are your seizures and this information should be shared with you!

These are just a few questions that may help you take charge of your situation. Ask questions and see how knowing more about your seizures can help in many different ways. 

Have a safe week!

Patty Osborne Shafer RN, MN
Associate Editor/Community Manager
epilepsy.com

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