Seizures of any kind can happen during sleep, but there are some forms of epilepsy that are restricted to sleep exclusively. These sleep seizures are known as nocturnal seizures. Children can also be diagnosed with nocturnal seizures. These can be frightening for the parents and the child as they do not know when the next seizure will occur or how severe. Nocturnal seizures in children can be similar to night terrors; doctors can generally diagnose nocturnal seizures with a few tests.
When Do Nocturnal Seizures Occur
Most of these seizures will happen during light sleep or soon after the child falls asleep, before waking or around arousal during the night. Research suggests that sleep may trigger seizures. During sleep, the body is still very active and changes within the mind and body occur. These changes are thought to influence the seizure activity.
Staying Safe During a Nocturnal Seizure
When a person goes into a seizure there are precautions that need to be made to ensure that the child does not have bigger injuries.
- Make sure that the bed is low and has padded headboards; rails may also be recommended on a small child.
- Use a pillow that is firm or no pillow. Soft, fluffy and oversized pillows can present a smothering risk.
- Lay a thick carpet or safety mat around the bed to keep the child from getting injured should they tend to fall out of bed during seizures.
- Remove any nightstands or other furniture from near the bed to make sure they do not hit their head or body during a seizure.