The relationship between sleep and epilepsy in frontal and temporal lobe epilepsies: practical and physiopathologic considerations

Epilepsia. 1998 Feb;39(2):150-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1998.tb01352.x.


Purpose: The influence of sleep on the incidence of seizures and the reciprocal effects of epilepsy on sleep were analyzed in 30 patients with intractable partial seizures, all candidates for surgery.

Methods: The patients were classified into two groups of 15 patients according to the documented site of the epileptogenic zone: frontal lobe epilepsy (FLE) and medial temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Frequency and waking-sleep distribution of seizures were evaluated by continuous video-EEG monitoring for 5 days, under defined antiepileptic drug (AED), sleep, and sleep deprivation regimens. Sleep organization was analyzed by polysomnography prior to the presurgical protocol.

Results: Significant differences were found between the two groups in sleeping-waking distribution of seizures under varied conditions, and in the quality of sleep organization. In FLE patients, seizures most often occurred during sleep, although sleep organization was normal. In TLE patients, most seizures occurred while patients were awake, and sleep organization was characterized by a low efficiency index. The difference in seizure distribution between FLE and TLE persisted under all conditions investigated, i.e., after AED discontinuation and sleep deprivation.

Conclusions: Sleep recording may be useful for diagnosis of FLE, and monitoring after sleep deprivation for that of TLE. We speculate that sleep-related seizures in FLE may depend on interaction between frontal lobe areas with the thalamus cortical synchronization system and the acetylcholine regulatory system of waking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Frontal Lobe / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Polysomnography*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Videotape Recording
  • Wakefulness / physiology