Department of Neurology

Nocturnal epilepsy

Q: Since seizures during sleep do not endanger other persons (unlike seizures while driving), is it correct to conclude that for a person who has seizures ONLY during sleep, no medications are needed?

A: There are several reasons why nocturnal seizures (seizures that occur at night) should be treated. From the practical standpoint, most persons with nocturnal seizures eventually do have one during the daytime. Also, seizures may be potentially harmful if untreated. Seizures are associated with sudden death. This is one of the theories of what recently happened with actress Margaux Hemingway.

From a theoretic standpoint, there is the strong possibility that uncontrolled seizures may cause damage to parts of the brain.

For these reasons, most epileptologists would treat nocturnal seizures, even if a person has never had daytime episodes.

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