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01 April 2016

Insomnia linked with worse quality of life and continuing seizures in people with epilepsy

A study has found that lack of sleep - or insomnia - is associated with short-term poor seizure control and worse quality of life among people with epilepsy.  And researchers have stressed the importance of assessing insomnia as part of people's epilepsy care, as this may help to reduce seizure activity.

The study, published in Epilepsy Research journal, analysed 207 people with epilepsy attending clinical visits.  While there, they were assessed according to the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI).  Researchers recorded the presence or absence of seizures and quality of life within the preceding four weeks.  Subjects were also asked to complete a survey about sleepiness and mood.

Of the 207 study subjects, 43 per cent had clinically significant insomnia, and 51 per cent had at least mild insomnia and 58 per cent were seizure free. Mean ISI scores were significantly worse for those with continuing seizures, and more severe ISI scores correlated strongly with worse QOL.

Younger age, shorter duration of epilepsy, use of sedatives, excessive sleepiness, and depression were all associated with more severe insomnia.  

The study concluded: "Insomnia is common in epilepsy, and is associated with short term poor seizure control and worse quality of life. Future studies must evaluate cause-and-effect relationships. Assessment of insomnia may be important in the comprehensive care of epilepsy and may influence control of epileptic seizures."