You might think that having a seizure in bed would be quite safe: no falling, no walking into traffic or being confused and disoriented among strangers. That’s quite true, but having a seizure while sleeping occasionally presents other dangers:
- Dangerous objects near the bed can cause injury.
- Prolonged seizures that need medical attention may go unnoticed.
- Vomit or other fluids may be inhaled if the person is not rolled onto one side.
- A person who has a seizure face down in bed may suffocate.
A very small number of adults with epilepsy experience Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). Many of these people are found dead in bed. Sometimes there is no clear sign of a seizure, but studies seem to suggest that being face down in the bedding may be a factor. SUDEP is even more rare amongst children.
What’s the solution?
One thing that everyone with epilepsy can do is to reduce the chances of having a seizure while sleeping by being careful to take all their seizure medicine exactly as prescribed.
Some people have all or most of their seizures during the night. These people should discuss with their doctor whether they should take more of their medication in the evening.
Ways of preventing injury from seizures that do occur during sleep include:
- Remove sharp or potentially dangerous objects from near the bed. If there’s a danger of falling out of bed, some suggest sleeping on a futon or other low bed.
- Have someone nearby, if possible, who will wake up in the event of a seizure and can assist the person or call for help. You might consider using baby monitors so other people in the house will hear you if you have a seizure in the middle of the night.