Nocturnal epilepsy

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Nocturnal epilepsy is a seizure disorder in which seizures occur only while sleeping. Several common forms of epilepsy, including frontal lobe epilepsy, can manifest in a nocturnal state.

Epilepsy can be nocturnal if the form of epilepsy one has only triggers seizures while one is asleep, or if one normally has seizures that occur at the same time. In the latter example, if one stays awake at a time when s/he is usually asleep, s/he can have the seizure while awake.


The condition may be difficult to diagnose. The subject himself/herself may be unaware s/he is having a seizure disorder. To others, the involuntary movements made during sleep may appear no different than those typical to normal sleep.

One who suffers a nocturnal seizure may notice some unusual differences upon awakening in the morning, such as a headache, having wet his/her bed, having bitten his/her tongue, a bone or joint injury, or lightheadedness. Others may notice unusual mental behaviors with the person, consistent with the aftermath of a seizure. There may also be objects in the vicinity of the bed knocked on the floor, or the subject him/herself may be surprised to find him/herself on the floor.

A possible risk of any nocturnal seizure is that a concussion, possibly a significant one, could occur and the patient thus would be in danger and might not know it until late in the process.


Like other forms of epilepsy, noctural epilepsy can be treated with anticonvulsants.