Epilepsy and sleep disorders are considered by many to be common bedfellows. Several sleep phenomena may occur during nighttime taking a wide variety of forms and which can mimic seizures. Although most seizure sub-types have the potential to occur during sleep or wakefulness, sleep has a well-documented and strong association with specific epilepsy syndromes. Seizures in sleep also tend to occur during lighter stages of non-REM (NREM) sleep. The neurophysiologic process involved in the deepening of NREM sleep may also facilitate both seizures and IEDs. Epilepsy per se and/or seizures themselves promote sleep disruption and significantly affect the quality, quantity, and architecture of sleep. There are many causes of sleep disruption in patients with epilepsy, including inadequate sleep hygiene, coexisting sleep disorders, and circadian rhythm disturbances. Seizures themselves can disrupt sleep, even when they occur during wakefulness. Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) can also alter sleep in positive and negative ways, and these effects are independent of anticonvulsant actions. The end result of sleep disruption is excessive daytime sleepiness, worsening seizures, and poor quality of life. Screening for sleep disorders in the epilepsy population and appropriate intervention strategies will lead to overall improved quality of life and seizure control.
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