Sleep apnea and periodic leg movements in epilepsy

S A Newell, M E Drake
Clinical EEG (electroencephalography) 1994, 25 (4): 153-5
Sleepiness is a common complaint in the epilepsy clinic, and sleep disturbances are frequently reported by seizure patients. Polysomnography was performed in 6 patients with complex partial seizures, with and without secondary generalization, who had not yet started anticonvulsant treatment or whose medication had been discontinued. Five patients sleep through the night, but 1 slept only 3 hours. Two patients had reduced sleep efficiency and slow wave sleep was reduced or absent in 4 patients. No REM sleep disturbances occurred. Two patients had almost no periodic leg movements of sleep (PLMS), 2 had few or no arousals and PLMS indices of 5 or less, and 2 had markedly elevated PLMS and arousal indices. No apneas or significant hypopneas were recorded, but snoring indices were elevated in 2 patients. These findings suggest that sleep apnea is infrequent in unmedicated seizure patients. Some patients may have exaggerated PLMS with arousals, possibly related to epileptiform discharge and perhaps exacerbated by medications, but apparently not due to nocturnal seizures.

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