The Interaction Between Sleep and Epilepsy

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2022 Sep;22(9):551-563. doi: 10.1007/s11910-022-01219-1. Epub 2022 Jul 8.


Purpose of review: To review the mutual interactions between sleep and epilepsy, including mechanisms of epileptogenesis, the relationship between sleep apnea and epilepsy, and potential strategies to treat seizures.

Recent findings: Recent studies have highlighted the role of functional network systems underlying epileptiform activation in sleep in several epilepsy syndromes, including absence epilepsy, benign focal childhood epilepsy, and epileptic encephalopathy with spike-wave activation in sleep. Sleep disorders are common in epilepsy, and early recognition and treatment can improve seizure frequency and potentially reduce SUDEP risk. Additionally, epilepsy is associated with cyclical patterns, which has led to new treatment approaches including chronotherapy, seizure monitoring devices, and seizure forecasting. Adenosine kinase and orexin receptor antagonists are also promising new potential drug targets that could be used to treat seizures. Sleep and epilepsy have a bidirectional relationship that intersects with many aspects of clinical management. In this article, we identify new areas of research involving future therapeutic opportunities in the field of epilepsy.

Keywords: Adenosine; Chronotherapy; Epilepsy; Orexin; Seizure forecasting; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsies, Partial* / complications
  • Epilepsy* / complications
  • Humans
  • Seizures / complications
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / complications