Seizures that occur at night, or nocturnal seizures, are usually due to epilepsy and can significantly effect the ability to get a good night's rest. However, there are other sleep disorders that cause similar symptoms, which may be misdiagnosed as nocturnal seizures. This can happen because nighttime seizures and sleep disorders often occur without the patient's knowledge. To help correctly diagnose a true nocturnal seizure, it is important to become familiar with the signs and symptoms.
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Inability to Concentrate
While all sleep disorders can cause excessive daytime fatigue and difficulty focusing during the day, true nocturnal seizures significantly reduce the time spent in deep sleep and the effects can be drastic. Nocturnal seizures can lead to a total inability to work or function during the day, states the Columbia University Sleep Disorders Center.
Nocturnal seizures can result in abnormal or uncontrollable movements while sleeping. The University of Michigan Health System claims that in some cases, the patient awakens abruptly multiple times with no known cause. Others may thrash in bed, experience violent movements of the arms and legs all while remaining asleep. Upon arousal the patient may appear confused and disoriented.
Incontinence and Tongue Biting
Seizures that occur during the night may lead to a loss of ability to control muscles in the body. This can lead to incontinence and accidents in bed. There may also be a tendency to bite the tongue. If nocturnal seizures are suspected, a physician can order a sleep study and brain wave activity tests to determine if it is a true nocturnal seizure or another type of sleep disorder.