Epilepsy and sleep

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A sleep history should be taken routinely in patients with epilepsy. Treatment of sleep disorders and improvement in sleep hygiene may improve seizure control, daytime cognitive functioning, and quality of life. Patients with recurrent sleepiness interfering with daily activities or an Epworth Sleepiness Scale score more than 10 should be considered for additional evaluation by a sleep specialist. Treatment options for insomnia include improvements in sleep hygiene, cognitive behavior therapies, and sedative or hypnotic drugs. Alterations in the timing or type of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) may be helpful (for example, using sedating medications [eg, benzodiazepines, barbiturates] before bedtime and avoiding evening use of drugs that may exacerbate insomnia [eg, felbamate, lamotrigine]). Improvements in sleep hygiene alone are less effective than cognitive behavioral therapy or pharmacologic therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is more efficacious and its effects longer lasting than pharmacologic treatments. Sedative and hypnotic drugs may exacerbate AED cognitive adverse effects during the day and should be used only after other therapies have failed. Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in patients with epilepsy may be secondary to AEDs, nocturnal seizures, or a concomitant sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome. Sedating AEDs should be minimized during the day, and activating AEDs should be used as appropriate. Video electroencephalogram polysomnography should be performed when EDS interferes with daily activities and the etiology of sleepiness is unclear. AEDs that are associated with weight gain should be avoided in patients with sleep apnea. AEDs that may promote weight loss should be considered for obese patients with sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure is the treatment of choice for sleep apnea. Copyright © 2006 by Current Science Inc.

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Current Treatment Options in Neurology







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