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What Causes Nocturnal Seizures in Adults?

Seizures in adults occur due to miscommunication between the nerve cells in the brain. The occurrence of the seizures makes it difficult how the brain processes and further leads to the development of symptoms such as loss of bladder control, lack of consciousness, and staring into space.

The symptoms that occur during this seizure alter from one person to another person. Additionally, a few people experience the attack in the sleep called as the nocturnal seizure.

What is Nocturnal Seizure?

What is Nocturnal Seizure?

The nocturnal seizure is a disorder due to the abnormal activity of electrical functioning of the brain that occurs when the individual is sleeping. An attack falls into this category only if the person has the seizure while he or she is sleeping. It is also possible for the occurrence of the seizure even when the person is awake, which is the actual sleeping time of the individual.

What Causes Nocturnal Seizures in Adults?

The cause behind the occurrence of the nocturnal seizure is unknown. However, scientists and neurologists often link the situation to brain tumors, an unusual development in the brain, reduction in the oxygen that reaches the brain, and severe injuries to the head.

A few more conditions linked to seizure attacks can also cause a nocturnal seizure. These conditions include awakening tonic-clonic seizure, frontal lobe epilepsy, Landau-Kleffner syndrome, Benign Rolandic epilepsy and juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.

As the nocturnal seizure in adults occurs during the sleep, they often experience unusual atmosphere after awakening. Additionally, they will discover other factors such as weakness, lightheadedness, headache, bed wetting, and bitten tongue. A few people also experience joint paints. There is a high chance that a few people find themselves on the floor with broken objects surrounding themselves. The entire scenario makes it difficult for them to understand as to what happened, as they do not remember the seizure attack.

Seizure Occurrences

The nocturnal seizure occurs during the night soon after the individual falls asleep. The time can be anywhere from one or two hours of the sleep. It even happens after midnight and before awakening. In all of the cases, the period remains between one or two hours. For a few situations, patients complained about the attack after awakening. However, on an average, the length of the gap was similar.

As the disorder occurs only when an individual is sleeping, the occurrence of the seizure can also happen during the afternoon nap. Time is not of importance, but it is just the sleeping pattern that activates the triggering factors for the occurrence of the nocturnal seizure.

Diagnosis of Nocturnal Seizure

It is quite difficult for a neurologist to discover the presence of nocturnal seizure based merely on the symptoms as explained by the individual. It is yet another reason that makes it hard for the doctor to understand for how long the seizure lasted or the average duration of each episode.

Treatment for Nocturnal Seizure

If the doctor suspects that the patient is having a nocturnal seizure, then it is possible to cure the situation using anticonvulsants. Anticonvulsants help in balancing the misfiring caused in the brain. However, it can be difficult for the doctor to choose the right kind of combination for the treatment of nocturnal seizure. The reason is that several anticonvulsants possess the capability to alter the sleep pattern, which adds to the already existing symptoms.

In addition to the use of anticonvulsants for nocturnal seizure, it is preferable to carry out makeover to the bedroom. Using a low bed with padded headboard, keeping objects away from the surroundings, using safety mats, and avoiding large and soft pillows are some of the options that you can consider to stay safe.


  1. “Nocturnal Seizures: A Clinical Disorder of Sleep and Epilepsy” – American Academy of Sleep Medicine. https://aasm.org/resources/clinicalguidelines/040516.pdf

  2. “Epilepsy” – Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20350093

  3. “Seizures and Epilepsy: Overview” – Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17907-seizures-and-epilepsy/management-and-treatment

  4. “Understanding Seizures and Epilepsy” – Epilepsy Foundation. https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/about-epilepsy-basics/what-happens-during-seizure

  5. “Safety and Epilepsy” – Epilepsy Society. https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/safety-and-epilepsy

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 10, 2023

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