Posts Tagged Narcolepsy

[WEB SITE] Nootropics: Types, safety, and risks of smart drugs

Last reviewed 

Nootropics, or “smart drugs,” are a class of substances that can boost brain performance. They are sometimes called cognition enhancers or memory enhancing substances.

Prescription nootropics are medications that have stimulant effects. They can counteract the symptoms of medical conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Nonprescription substances that can enhance brain performance or focus — such as caffeine and creatine — are also considered nootropics. They do not treat diseases but may have some effects on thinking, memory, or other mental functions.

This article looks at prescription and nonprescription smart drugs, including their uses, side effects, and safety warnings.

Prescription nootropics

a woman taking nootropics at her desk.

A person may take a nootropic to treat ADHD, narcolepsy, or dementia.

Prescription nootropics include:

  • modafinil (Provigil), a stimulant that addresses the sudden drowsiness of narcolepsy
  • Adderall, which contains amphetamines to treat ADHD
  • methylphenidate (Ritalin), a stimulant that can manage symptoms of narcolepsy and ADHD
  • memantine (Axura), which treats symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

While these can be effective in treating specific medical conditions, a person should not take them without a prescription.

Like any prescription medications, they carry risks of side effects and interactions, and a person should only take them under a doctor’s care.

Common side effects of prescription nootropics include:

Some evidence suggests that people who use prescription nootropics to improve brain function have a higher risk of impulsive behaviors, such as risky sexual practices.

Healthcare providers should work closely with people taking prescription nootropics to manage any side effects and monitor their condition.

Over-the-counter nootropics

The term “nootropic” can also refer to natural or synthetic supplements that boost mental performance. The following sections discuss nootropics that do not require a prescription.

Caffeine

Many people consume beverages that contain caffeine, such as coffee or tea, because of their stimulant effects. Studies suggest that caffeine is safe for most people in moderate amounts.

Having a regular cup of coffee or tea may be a good way to boost mental focus. However, extreme amounts of caffeine may not be safe.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that people consume no more than 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day. This is the amount in 4–5 cups of coffee.

Caffeine pills and powders can contain extremely high amounts of the stimulant. Taking them can lead to a caffeine overdose and even death, in rare cases.

Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant may need to limit or avoid caffeine intake. Studies have found that consuming 4 or more servings of caffeine a day is linked to a higher risk of pregnancy loss.

L-theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid that occurs in black and green teas. People can also take l-theanine supplements.

A 2016 review reported that l-theanine may increase alpha waves in the brain. Alpha waves may contribute to a relaxed yet alert mental state.

L-theanine may work well when paired with caffeine. Some evidence suggests that this combination helps boost cognitive performance and alertness. Anyone looking to consume l-theanine in tea should keep the FDA’s caffeine guidelines in mind.

There are no dosage guidelines for l-theanine, but many supplements recommend taking 100–400 mg per day.

Omega-3 fatty acids

person at desk holding omega 3 supplements in palm

Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are important to fight against brain aging.

These polyunsaturated fats are found in fatty fish and fish oil supplements. This type of fat is important for brain health, and a person must get it from their diet.

Omega-3s help build membranes around the body’s cells, including the neurons. These fats are important for repairing and renewing brain cells.

A 2015 review found that omega-3 fatty acids protect against brain aging. Other research has concluded that omega-3s are important for brain and nervous system function.

However, a large analysis found “no benefit for cognitive function with omega‐3 [polyunsaturated fatty acids] supplementation among cognitively healthy older people.” The authors recommend further long term studies.

A person can get omega-3 supplements in various forms, including fish oil, krill oil, and algal oil.

These supplements carry a low risk of side effects when a person takes them as directed, but they may interact with medications that affect blood clotting. Ask a doctor before taking them.

Racetams

Racetams are synthetic compounds that can affect neurotransmitters in the brain. Some nootropic racetams include:

  • piracetam
  • pramiracetam
  • phenylpiracetam
  • aniracetam

A study conducted in rats suggests that piracetam may have neuroprotective effects.

One review states that “Some of the studies suggested there may be some benefit from piracetam, but, overall, the evidence is not consistent or positive enough to support its use for dementia or cognitive impairment.” Confirming this will require more research.

There is no set dosage for racetams, so a person should follow instructions and consult a healthcare provider. Overall, studies have no found adverse effects of taking racetams as directed.

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a tree native to China, Japan, and Korea. Its leaves are available as an herbal supplement.

2016 study found that gingko biloba is “potentially beneficial” for improving brain function, but confirming this will require more research.

Ginkgo biloba may help with dementia symptoms, according to one review, which reported the effects occurring in people who took more than 200 mg per day for at least 5 months.

However, the review’s authors note that more research is needed. Also, with prescription nootropics available, ginkgo biloba may not be the most safe or effective option.

Panax ginseng

Panax ginseng is a perennial shrub that grows in China and parts of Siberia. People use its roots for medicinal purposes.

People should not confuse Panax ginseng with other types of ginseng, such as Siberian or American varieties. These are different plants with different uses.

2018 review reports that Panax ginseng may help prevent certain brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. It also may help with brain recovery after a stroke.

Panax ginseng interacts with many medications, so consult a doctor before taking it. A typical dosage for mental function is 100–600 mg once or twice a day.

Rhodiola

Some evidence suggests that Rhodiola rosea L., also known as rhodiola or roseroot, can help with cognitive ability.

One review reported that rhodiola may have neuroprotective effects and may help treat neurodegenerative diseases.

Another review found that rhodiola helped regulate neurotransmitters in the brain, having a positive effect on mood.

Rhodiola capsules have varying strengths. Usually, a person takes a capsule once or twice daily.

Creatine

Creatine is an amino acid, which is a building block of protein. This supplement is popular among athletes because it may help improve exercise performance. It may also have some effects on mental ability.

A 2018 review found that taking creatine appears to help with short term memory and reasoning. Whether it helps the brain in other ways is unclear.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition report that creatine supplementation of up to 30 grams per day is safe for healthy people to take for 5 years.

Another 2018 review notes that there has been limited research into whether this supplement is safe and effective for adolescent athletes.

Do nootropics work?

Some small studies show that some nootropic supplements can affect the brain. But there is a lack of evidence from large, controlled studies to show that some of these supplements consistently work and are completely safe.

Because of the lack of research, experts cannot say with certainty that over-the-counter nootropics improve thinking or brain function — or that everyone can safely use them.

For example, one report on cognitive enhancers found that there is not enough evidence to indicate that they are safe and effective for healthy people. The researchers also point to ethical concerns.

However, there is evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can benefit the brain and overall health. In addition, caffeine can improve mental focus in the short term.

Notes on the safety of nootropics

doctor and patient in office discussing adrenal cancer

A person should talk to a doctor about any interactions supplements may have with existing medications.

Also, some supplements may not contain what their labels say. A study of rhodiola products, for example, found that some contain contaminants or other ingredients not listed on the label.

For this reason, it is important to only purchase supplements from reputable companies that undergo independent testing.

BUYING NOOTROPICSA prescription is necessary for some nootropics, such as Provigil and Adderall. Over-the-counter nootropics are available in some supermarkets and drug stores, or people can choose between brands online:

Not all of these supplements are recommended by healthcare providers and some may interact with medications. Always speak to a doctor before trying a supplement.

Summary

Many doctors agree that the best way to boost brain function is to get adequate sleep, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and manage stress.

For people who want to boost their cognitive function, nootropic supplements may help, in some cases. Anyone interested in trying a nootropic should consult a healthcare professional about the best options.

 

via Nootropics: Types, safety, and risks of smart drugs

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[WEB SITE] The Relationship Between Epilepsy and Sleep

The Thomas Haydn Trust in an aid to understanding Epilepsy and Sleep has published this mobile article. This article is not extensive and should not be used as medical advice; it’s intended for information purposes only. This dictionary is also available for download from http://www.thomashaydntrust.com/publications.htm in .pdf format. [Please note that this is version 1 and further updates may be availalbe]
 Written by M C Walker, S M Sisodiya

Institute of Neurology, University College London, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, and National Society for Epilepsy, Chalfont St Peter, Bucks. London, and National Society for Epilepsy, Chalfont St Peter, Bucks. September 2005. This article can be reproduced for educational purposes.

Introduction

Epilepsy has a complex association with sleep. Certain seizures are more common during sleep, and may show prominent diurnal variation. Rarely, nocturnal seizures are the only manifestation of an epileptic disorder and these can be confused with a parasomnia. Conversely, certain sleep disorders are not uncommonly misdiagnosed as epilepsy. Lastly, sleep disorders can exacerbate epilepsy and epilepsy can exacerbate certain sleep disorders. This chapter is thus divided into four sections: normal sleep physiology and the relationship to seizures; the interaction of sleep disorders and epilepsy; and the importance of sleep disorders in diagnosis.

Normal sleep physiology and the relationship to seizures

Adults require on average 7 – 8 hours sleep a night. This sleep is divided into two distinct states – rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. These two sleep states cycle over approximately 90 minutes throughout the night with the REM periods becoming progressively longer as sleep continues. Thus there is a greater proportion of REM sleep late on in the sleep cycles. REM sleep accounts for about a quarter of sleep time. During REM sleep, dreams occur; hypotonia or atonia of major muscles prevents dream enactment. REM sleep is also associated with irregular breathing and increased variability in blood pressure and heart rate. Non-REM sleep is divided into four stages (stages I – IV) defined by specific EEG criteria. Stages I/II represent light sleep, while stages III/IV represent deep, slow-wave sleep.

Gowers noted that in some patients, epileptic seizures occurred mainly in sleep. Sleep influences cortical excitability and neuronal synchrony. Surveys have suggested that 10 – 45% of patients have seizures that occur predominantly or exclusively during sleep or occur with sleep deprivation. EEG activation in epilepsy commonly occurs during sleep, so that sleep recordings are much more likely to demonstrate epileptiform abnormalities. These are usually most frequent during non-REM sleep and often have a propensity to spread so that the epileptiform discharges are frequently observed over a wider field than is seen during the wake state. Sleep deprivation (especially in generalised epilepsies) can also ‘activate’ the EEG, but can induce seizures in some patients. Thus many units perform sleep EEGs with only moderate sleep deprivation (late night, early morning), avoidance of stimulants (e.g. caffeine-containing drinks) and EEG recording in the afternoon. Sleep-induced EEGs in which the patient is given a mild sedative (e.g. chloral hydrate) are also useful.

Sleep and generalised seizures

Thalamocortical rhythms are activated during non-REM sleep giving rise to sleep spindles. Since similar circuits are involved in the generation of spike-wave discharges in primary generalised epilepsy, it is perhaps not surprising that non-REM sleep often promotes spike-wave discharges. Epileptiform discharges and seizures in primary generalised epilepsies are both commonly promoted by sleep deprivation. Furthermore, primary generalised seizures often occur within a couple of hours of waking, whether from overnight sleep or daytime naps. This is most notable with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy in which both myoclonus and tonic-clonic seizures occur shortly after waking, and the

Διαφήμιση

syndrome of tonic-clonic seizures on awakening described by Janz. Seizure onset in this syndrome is from 6 – 35 years and the prognosis for eventual remission is good.

Certain epileptic encephalopathies show marked diurnal variation in seizure manifestation and electrographic activity. An example is the generalised repetitive fast discharge during slow-wave sleep occurring in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Another example is electrical status epilepticus during sleep (ESES). This is characterised by spike and wave discharges in 85 – 100% of non-REM sleep. This phenomenon is associated with certain epilepsy syndromes, including Landau-Kleffner, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, continuous spikes and waves during sleep and benign epilepsy of childhood with rolandic spikes. ESES can thus be a component of a number of different epilepsy syndromes with agedependent onset, many seizure types, and varying degrees of neuropsychological deterioration. Indeed, ESES has been described in the setting of an autistic syndrome alone with no other

manifestation of epilepsy.

Sleep and partial epilepsies

Inter-ictal epileptiform abnormalities on the EEG occur more frequently during sleep, especially stage III/IV sleep (slow-wave sleep). The discharges have a greater propensity to spread during sleep, and thus are often seen over a wider field than discharges occurring during wakefulness. Temporal lobe seizures are relatively uncommon during sleep, while frontal lobe seizures occur often predominantly (sometimes exclusively) during sleep. Nocturnal frontal lobe seizures can be manifest as: brief stereotypical, abrupt arousals; complex stereotypical, nocturnal movements; or episodic nocturnal wanderings with confusion. Inherited frontal lobe epilepsies can manifest with only nocturnal events that can be confused with parasomnias (see below). Autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy is such an epilepsy. This has been associated with mutations in alpha-4 and beta-2 subunits of the neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Onset is usually in adolescence with seizures occurring frequently, sometimes every night. The seizures are provoked by stress, sleep deprivation and menstruation, and often respond well to carbamazepine.

The interaction of sleep disorders and epilepsy

Seizures can disrupt sleep architecture. Complex partial seizures at night disrupt normal sleep patterns, decrease REM sleep and increase daytime drowsiness. Daytime complex partial seizures can also decrease subsequent REM sleep, which may contribute to impaired function. Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) can also disrupt normal sleep patterns, although there are conflicting data (this is partially due to drugs having different short-term and long-term effects). Carbamazepine, for example, given acutely reduces and fragments REM sleep, but these effects are reversed after a month of treatment. The GABAergic drugs can have a profound effect on sleep; phenobarbitone and benzodiazepines prolong non-REM sleep and shorten REM sleep, while tiagabine increases slow-wave sleep and sleep efficiency. Gabapentin and lamotrigine may both increase REM sleep.

Certain sleep disorders are more common in patients with epilepsy. This is particularly so with obstructive sleep apnoea which is more common in patients with epilepsy and can also exacerbate seizures. Indeed, sleep apnoea is approximately twice as common in those with refractory epilepsy than in the general population. The reasons why this is so are unknown, but may relate to increased body weight, use of AEDs, underlying seizure aetiology or the epilepsy syndrome itself.

Patients with obstructive sleep apnoea often find that seizure control improves with treatment of the sleep apnoea. Topiramate may also be a particularly useful drug in these cases.

The importance of sleep disorders in differential diagnosis

On occasions nocturnal seizures can be misdiagnosed as a primary sleep disorder (see above). Conversely, certain sleep disorders can be misdiagnosed as epilepsy and the more common of these will be discussed below. Sleep disorders tend to occur during specific sleep phases and thus usually occur at specific times during the night, while seizures usually occur at any time during the night. There may also be other clues in the history, including age of onset, association with other symptoms (see below) and the stereotypy of the episodes (seizures are usually stereotypical).

In cases where there is some uncertainty, video-EEG polysomnography is the investigation of choice. There are, however, instances in which the diagnosis can be difficult even after overnight video-EEG telemetry as frontal lobe seizures can be brief with any EEG change obscured by movement artefact, and it is often the stereotypy of the episodes that confirms the diagnosis.

Abnormalities of sleep are divided into three main categories: 1) dysomnias or disorders of the sleepwake cycle; 2) parasomnias or disordered behaviour that intrudes into sleep, and 3) sleep disorders associated with medical or psychiatric conditions. Although there is an extensive list of conditions within each of these categories, we will confine ourselves to the clinical features of the more common conditions that can be confused with epilepsy.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a specific, well-defined disorder with a prevalence of approximately one in 2000. It is a life-long condition usually presenting in late teens or early 20s. Narcolepsy is a disorder of REM sleep and has as its main symptom excessive daytime sleepiness. This is manifest as uncontrollable urges to sleep, not only at times of relaxation (e.g. reading a book, watching television), but also at inappropriate times (e.g. eating a meal or while talking). The sleep is itself usually refreshing. The other typical symptoms are cataplexy, sleep paralysis and hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations. These represent REM sleep phenomena such as hypotonia/atonia, and dreams occurring at inappropriate times. Cataplexy is a sudden decrease in voluntary muscle tone (especially jaw, neck and limbs) that occurs with sudden emotion like laughter, elation, surprise or anger. This can manifest as jaw dropping, head nods or a feeling of weakness or, in more extreme cases, as falls with ‘paralysis’ lasting sometimes minutes. Consciousness is preserved. Cataplexy is a specific symptom of narcolepsy, although narcolepsy can occur without cataplexy. Sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations are not particularly specific and can occur in other sleep disorders and with sleep deprivation (especially in the young). Both these phenomena occur shortly after going to sleep or on waking.

Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being awake, but unable to move. This can last minutes and is often very frightening, so can be associated with a feeling of panic. Hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations are visual or auditory hallucinations occurring while dozing/falling asleep or on waking; often the hallucinations are frightening, especially if associated with sleep paralysis.

Narcolepsy is associated with HLA type. Approximately 90% of all narcoleptic patients with definite cataplexy have the HLA allele HLA DQB1*0602 (often in combination with HLA DR2), compared with approximately 25% of the general population. The sensitivity of this test is decreased to 70% if cataplexy is not present. The strong association with HLA type has raised the possibility that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder. Recently loss of hypocretin-containing neurons in the hypothalamus has been associated with narcolepsy, and it is likely that narcolepsy is due to deficiency in hypocretin (orexin).

Since narcolepsy is a life-long condition with possibly addictive treatment, the diagnosis should always be confirmed with multiple sleep latency tests (MSLT). During this test five episodes of sleep are permitted during a day; rapid onset of sleep and REM sleep within 15 minutes in the absence of sleep deprivation are indicative of narcolepsy.

The excessive sleepiness of narcolepsy can be treated with modafinil, methylphenidate or dexamphetamine and regulated daytime naps. The cataplexy, sleep paralysis and hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations respond to antidepressants (fluoxetine or clomipramine are the most frequently prescribed). People with narcolepsy often have fragmented, poor sleep at night, and good sleep hygiene can be helpful.

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea can be divided into the relatively common obstructive sleep apnoea and the rarer central sleep apnoea. Obstructive sleep apnoea is more common in men than women and is associated with obesity, micrognathia and large neck size. The prevalence may be as high as 4% in men, and 2% in women. The symptoms suggestive of obstructive sleep apnoea are loud snoring, observed nocturnal apnoeic spells, waking at night fighting for breath or with a feeling of choking, morning headache, daytime somnolence, personality change and decreased libido. Although the daytime somnolence can be as severe as narcolepsy, the naps are not usually refreshing and are longer. Obstructive sleep apnoea and central sleep apnoea can be associated with neurological disease, but central sleep apnoea can also occur as an idiopathic syndrome. The correct diagnosis requires polysomnography with measures of oxygen saturations and nasal airflow or chest movements. To be pathological a sleep apnoea or hypopnoea (a 50% reduction in airflow) has to last ten seconds and there need to be more than five apnoeas/hypopnoeas per hour (the precise number to make a diagnosis varies from sleep laboratory to sleep laboratory).

Uncontrolled sleep apnoea can lead to hypertension, cardiac failure, pulmonary hypertension and stroke. In addition, sleep apnoea has been reported to worsen other sleep conditions, such as narcolepsy, and to worsen seizure control.

Treatment of sleep apnoea should include avoidance of alcohol and sedatives and weight reduction. Pharmacological treatment is not particularly effective, although REM suppressants such as protriptyline can be helpful. The mainstays of treatment are surgical and include tonsillectomies, adenoidectomy and procedures to widen the airway, and the use of mechanical devices. Dental appliances to pull the bottom jaw forward can be effective in mild cases, but continuous positive airway pressure administered by a nasal mask has become largely the treatment of choice for moderate/severe obstructive sleep apnoea. In cases associated with neuromuscular weakness intermittent positive pressure ventilation is often necessary.

Restless legs syndrome/periodic limb movements in sleep

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS) can occur in association or separately. Most people with RLS also have PLMS, but the converse is not true and most people with PLMS do not have RLS. RLS is characterised by an unpleasant sensation in the legs, often described as tingling, cramping or crawling, and an associated overwhelming urge to move the legs. These sensations are usually worse in the evening, and movement only provides temporary relief. RLS affects about 5% of the population. Periodic limb movements in sleep are brief, repetitive jerking of usually the legs that occur every 20 – 40 seconds. These occur in non-REM sleep and can cause frequent arousals. PLMS occurs in about 50% of people over 65 years. These conditions can also be associated with daytime jerks. Both RLS and PLMS can be familial, but can be secondary to peripheral neuropathy (especially diabetic, uraemic and alcoholic neuropathies), iron deficiency, pregnancy and rarely spinal cord lesions.

Symptomatic relief can be achieved with benzodiazepines, gabapentin and opioids, but L-DOPA and dopamine agonists are the mainstay of treatment.

Sleep-wake transition disorders

The most common of these are hypnic jerks or myoclonic jerks that occur on going to sleep or on waking. They are entirely benign in nature, and require no treatment. They can occur in association with other sleep disorders. Rhythmic movement disorder is a collection of conditions occurring in infancy and childhood characterised by repetitive movements occurring immediately prior to sleep onset that can continue into light sleep. One of the most dramatic is headbanging or jactatio capitis nocturna. Persistence of these rhythmic movements beyond the age of ten years is often associated with learning difficulties, autism or emotional disturbance. Sleep-talking can occur during non-REM and REM sleep, but is often seen with wake-sleep transition and is a common and entirely benign phenomenon.

Nocturnal enuresis

Nocturnal enuresis is a common disorder that can occur throughout the night. Although diagnosis is straightforward, it can recur in childhood, and also occurs in the elderly, with approximately 3% of women and 1% of men over the age of 65 years having the disorder. Thus, on occasions, it can be misdiagnosed as nocturnal epilepsy.

Non-REM parasomnias

Non-REM parasomnias usually occur in slow-wave (stage III/IV) sleep. These conditions are often termed arousal disorders and indeed can be induced by forced arousal from slow-wave sleep. There are three main non-REM parasomnias – sleepwalking, night terrors and confusional arousal. These disorders often have a familial basis, but can be brought on by sleep deprivation, alcohol and some drugs. They can also be triggered by other sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, medical and psychiatric illness. Patients are invariably confused during the event, and are also amnesic for the event. These conditions are most common in children, but do occur in adults.

Sleepwalking may occur in up to 25% of children, with the peak incidence occurring from age 11 – 12 years. The condition is characterised by wanderings often with associated complex behaviours such as carrying objects, and eating. Although speech does occur, communication is usually impossible. The episode usually lasts a matter of minutes. Aggressive and injurious behaviour is uncommon, and should it occur then polysomnography may be indicated to exclude an REM sleep parasomnia (see below), and to confirm the diagnosis. Night terrors are less common and are characterised by screaming, and prominent sympathetic nervous system activity – tachycardia, mydriasis and excessive sweating. Both these conditions are usually benign and rarely need treatment. If dangerous behaviour occurs, then treatment may be indicated. Benzodiazepines, especially clonazepam, are usually very effective.

REM parasomnias

Nightmares are REM phenomena that can occur following sleep deprivation, with certain drugs (e.g. L-DOPA) and in association with psychological and neurological disease. Sleep paralysis (see narcolepsy) is also an REM parasomnia, and may be familial.

Of more concern are REM sleep behaviour disorders. These consist of dream enactment. They are often violent, and tend to occur later in sleep when there is more REM sleep. These are rare and tend to occur in the elderly. In over one-third of cases, REM sleep behaviour disorders are symptomatic of an underlying neurological disease such as dementia, multisystem atrophy, Parkinson’s disease, brainstem tumours, multiple sclerosis, subarachnoid haemorrhage and cerebrovascular disease. In view of this, a history of possible REM sleep behaviour disorder needs to be investigated by polysomnography, and if confirmed, then possible aetiologies need to be investigated. REM sleep behaviour disorders respond very well to clonazepam.

Further reading

• BAZIL CW (2002) Sleep and epilepsy. Semin Neurol 22(3) , 321-327.

• FOLDVARY-SCHAEFER NJ (2002) Sleep complaints and epilepsy: the role of seizures,

antiepileptic drugs and sleep disorders. Clin Neurophysiol 19(6) , 514-521.

• MALOW BA (2002) Paroxysmal events in sleep. J Clin Neurophysiol 19(6) , 522-534.

• SCHNEERSON J. Handbook of Sleep Medicine . Blackwell Science, Oxford.

[END]

ABOUT THE THOMAS HAYDN TRUST

The Thomas Haydn Trust is The Paediatric Epilepsy Charity that aims to serve the needs of Young People, Parents, Carers and Medical Professionals. But to know who we are you need to know why we are.

Providing local services and sharing the rewards globally is the core of THT’s work, weather newly diagnosed or not, you will find THT a valuable source of support, knowledge and news for the epilepsies.

The Thomas Haydn Trust was set up in the wake of Thomas Haydn Smith’s diagnosis of Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome – One of the Most severe forms of Childhood Onset Epilepsies, affecting 1 in 1,000,000 epilepsy sufferer’s worldwide.

In setting up THT our aim was to combat many of the hurdles that Thomas and his family come across while living with LGS. THT strives to ‘Give Something Back’ to organisations that help families and children with severe epilepsies.

We work towards our goals in the following manner:

Research

Raising the need profile for both basic and clinical research into Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome and other childhood Epilepsies.

Support

By providing a free and open forum for sufferers, family and carers’, allowing them to share experiences, build relationships and facilitate peer learning. THT also provides details of leading specialist support organisations of specific Epilepsy conditions – Supporting the specific needs of the child.

Education

Developing an ever-expending resource of research findings and educational materials for the public and medical professionals.

Funding

Where possible, fund individuals and organisations involved in support, development and care of families with sick children.

Awareness

Raising awareness of childhood Epilepsies through various mediums including the internet, press, radio and television. Highlighting the effects of LGS and other childhood onset Epilepsies through our live events – Raising awareness is the key principle on which THT works.

Empowerment

Promoting the advancement of individuals with Epilepsy to speak out against ignorance, predjudice and bigotry that still surrounds conditions of Epilepsy.

Networking

Developing links with other national and international organisations to create a coalition of information sharing networks.

via The Relationship Between Epilepsy and Sleep – Wattpad

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[WEB SITE] The Relationship Between Epilepsy and Sleep

The Thomas Haydn Trust in an aid to understanding Epilepsy and Sleep has published this mobile article. This article is not extensive and should not be used as medical advice; it’s intended for information purposes only. This dictionary is also available for download from http://www.thomashaydntrust.com/publications.htm in .pdf format. [Please note that this is version 1 and further updates may be availalbe]

Written by

M C Walker, S M Sisodiya

Institute of Neurology, University College London, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, and National Society for Epilepsy, Chalfont St Peter, Bucks. London, and National Society for Epilepsy, Chalfont St Peter, Bucks. September 2005. This article can be reproduced for educational purposes.

Introduction

Epilepsy has a complex association with sleep. Certain seizures are more common during sleep, and may show prominent diurnal variation. Rarely, nocturnal seizures are the only manifestation of an epileptic disorder and these can be confused with a parasomnia. Conversely, certain sleep disorders are not uncommonly misdiagnosed as epilepsy. Lastly, sleep disorders can exacerbate epilepsy and epilepsy can exacerbate certain sleep disorders. This chapter is thus divided into four sections: normal sleep physiology and the relationship to seizures; the interaction of sleep disorders and epilepsy; and the importance of sleep disorders in diagnosis.

Normal sleep physiology and the relationship to seizures

Adults require on average 7 – 8 hours sleep a night. This sleep is divided into two distinct states – rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. These two sleep states cycle over approximately 90 minutes throughout the night with the REM periods becoming progressively longer as sleep continues. Thus there is a greater proportion of REM sleep late on in the sleep cycles. REM sleep accounts for about a quarter of sleep time. During REM sleep, dreams occur; hypotonia or atonia of major muscles prevents dream enactment. REM sleep is also associated with irregular breathing and increased variability in blood pressure and heart rate. Non-REM sleep is divided into four stages (stages I – IV) defined by specific EEG criteria. Stages I/II represent light sleep, while stages III/IV represent deep, slow-wave sleep.

Gowers noted that in some patients, epileptic seizures occurred mainly in sleep. Sleep influences cortical excitability and neuronal synchrony. Surveys have suggested that 10 – 45% of patients have seizures that occur predominantly or exclusively during sleep or occur with sleep deprivation. EEG activation in epilepsy commonly occurs during sleep, so that sleep recordings are much more likely to demonstrate epileptiform abnormalities. These are usually most frequent during non-REM sleep and often have a propensity to spread so that the epileptiform discharges are frequently observed over a wider field than is seen during the wake state. Sleep deprivation (especially in generalised epilepsies) can also ‘activate’ the EEG, but can induce seizures in some patients. Thus many units perform sleep EEGs with only moderate sleep deprivation (late night, early morning), avoidance of stimulants (e.g. caffeine-containing drinks) and EEG recording in the afternoon. Sleep-induced EEGs in which the patient is given a mild sedative (e.g. chloral hydrate) are also useful.

Sleep and generalised seizures

Thalamocortical rhythms are activated during non-REM sleep giving rise to sleep spindles. Since similar circuits are involved in the generation of spike-wave discharges in primary generalised epilepsy, it is perhaps not surprising that non-REM sleep often promotes spike-wave discharges. Epileptiform discharges and seizures in primary generalised epilepsies are both commonly promoted by sleep deprivation. Furthermore, primary generalised seizures often occur within a couple of hours of waking, whether from overnight sleep or daytime naps. This is most notable with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy in which both myoclonus and tonic-clonic seizures occur shortly after waking, and the

Διαφήμιση

syndrome of tonic-clonic seizures on awakening described by Janz. Seizure onset in this syndrome is from 6 – 35 years and the prognosis for eventual remission is good.

Certain epileptic encephalopathies show marked diurnal variation in seizure manifestation and electrographic activity. An example is the generalised repetitive fast discharge during slow-wave sleep occurring in Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Another example is electrical status epilepticus during sleep (ESES). This is characterised by spike and wave discharges in 85 – 100% of non-REM sleep. This phenomenon is associated with certain epilepsy syndromes, including Landau-Kleffner, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, continuous spikes and waves during sleep and benign epilepsy of childhood with rolandic spikes. ESES can thus be a component of a number of different epilepsy syndromes with agedependent onset, many seizure types, and varying degrees of neuropsychological deterioration. Indeed, ESES has been described in the setting of an autistic syndrome alone with no other

manifestation of epilepsy.

Sleep and partial epilepsies

Inter-ictal epileptiform abnormalities on the EEG occur more frequently during sleep, especially stage III/IV sleep (slow-wave sleep). The discharges have a greater propensity to spread during sleep, and thus are often seen over a wider field than discharges occurring during wakefulness. Temporal lobe seizures are relatively uncommon during sleep, while frontal lobe seizures occur often predominantly (sometimes exclusively) during sleep. Nocturnal frontal lobe seizures can be manifest as: brief stereotypical, abrupt arousals; complex stereotypical, nocturnal movements; or episodic nocturnal wanderings with confusion. Inherited frontal lobe epilepsies can manifest with only nocturnal events that can be confused with parasomnias (see below). Autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy is such an epilepsy. This has been associated with mutations in alpha-4 and beta-2 subunits of the neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Onset is usually in adolescence with seizures occurring frequently, sometimes every night. The seizures are provoked by stress, sleep deprivation and menstruation, and often respond well to carbamazepine.

The interaction of sleep disorders and epilepsy

Seizures can disrupt sleep architecture. Complex partial seizures at night disrupt normal sleep patterns, decrease REM sleep and increase daytime drowsiness. Daytime complex partial seizures can also decrease subsequent REM sleep, which may contribute to impaired function. Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) can also disrupt normal sleep patterns, although there are conflicting data (this is partially due to drugs having different short-term and long-term effects). Carbamazepine, for example, given acutely reduces and fragments REM sleep, but these effects are reversed after a month of treatment. The GABAergic drugs can have a profound effect on sleep; phenobarbitone and benzodiazepines prolong non-REM sleep and shorten REM sleep, while tiagabine increases slow-wave sleep and sleep efficiency. Gabapentin and lamotrigine may both increase REM sleep.

Certain sleep disorders are more common in patients with epilepsy. This is particularly so with obstructive sleep apnoea which is more common in patients with epilepsy and can also exacerbate seizures. Indeed, sleep apnoea is approximately twice as common in those with refractory epilepsy than in the general population. The reasons why this is so are unknown, but may relate to increased body weight, use of AEDs, underlying seizure aetiology or the epilepsy syndrome itself.

Patients with obstructive sleep apnoea often find that seizure control improves with treatment of the sleep apnoea. Topiramate may also be a particularly useful drug in these cases.

The importance of sleep disorders in differential diagnosis

On occasions nocturnal seizures can be misdiagnosed as a primary sleep disorder (see above). Conversely, certain sleep disorders can be misdiagnosed as epilepsy and the more common of these will be discussed below. Sleep disorders tend to occur during specific sleep phases and thus usually occur at specific times during the night, while seizures usually occur at any time during the night. There may also be other clues in the history, including age of onset, association with other symptoms (see below) and the stereotypy of the episodes (seizures are usually stereotypical).

In cases where there is some uncertainty, video-EEG polysomnography is the investigation of choice. There are, however, instances in which the diagnosis can be difficult even after overnight video-EEG telemetry as frontal lobe seizures can be brief with any EEG change obscured by movement artefact, and it is often the stereotypy of the episodes that confirms the diagnosis.

Abnormalities of sleep are divided into three main categories: 1) dysomnias or disorders of the sleepwake cycle; 2) parasomnias or disordered behaviour that intrudes into sleep, and 3) sleep disorders associated with medical or psychiatric conditions. Although there is an extensive list of conditions within each of these categories, we will confine ourselves to the clinical features of the more common conditions that can be confused with epilepsy.

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a specific, well-defined disorder with a prevalence of approximately one in 2000. It is a life-long condition usually presenting in late teens or early 20s. Narcolepsy is a disorder of REM sleep and has as its main symptom excessive daytime sleepiness. This is manifest as uncontrollable urges to sleep, not only at times of relaxation (e.g. reading a book, watching television), but also at inappropriate times (e.g. eating a meal or while talking). The sleep is itself usually refreshing. The other typical symptoms are cataplexy, sleep paralysis and hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations. These represent REM sleep phenomena such as hypotonia/atonia, and dreams occurring at inappropriate times. Cataplexy is a sudden decrease in voluntary muscle tone (especially jaw, neck and limbs) that occurs with sudden emotion like laughter, elation, surprise or anger. This can manifest as jaw dropping, head nods or a feeling of weakness or, in more extreme cases, as falls with ‘paralysis’ lasting sometimes minutes. Consciousness is preserved. Cataplexy is a specific symptom of narcolepsy, although narcolepsy can occur without cataplexy. Sleep paralysis and hypnagogic hallucinations are not particularly specific and can occur in other sleep disorders and with sleep deprivation (especially in the young). Both these phenomena occur shortly after going to sleep or on waking.

Sleep paralysis is a feeling of being awake, but unable to move. This can last minutes and is often very frightening, so can be associated with a feeling of panic. Hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations are visual or auditory hallucinations occurring while dozing/falling asleep or on waking; often the hallucinations are frightening, especially if associated with sleep paralysis.

Narcolepsy is associated with HLA type. Approximately 90% of all narcoleptic patients with definite cataplexy have the HLA allele HLA DQB1*0602 (often in combination with HLA DR2), compared with approximately 25% of the general population. The sensitivity of this test is decreased to 70% if cataplexy is not present. The strong association with HLA type has raised the possibility that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disorder. Recently loss of hypocretin-containing neurons in the hypothalamus has been associated with narcolepsy, and it is likely that narcolepsy is due to deficiency in hypocretin (orexin).

Since narcolepsy is a life-long condition with possibly addictive treatment, the diagnosis should always be confirmed with multiple sleep latency tests (MSLT). During this test five episodes of sleep are permitted during a day; rapid onset of sleep and REM sleep within 15 minutes in the absence of sleep deprivation are indicative of narcolepsy.

The excessive sleepiness of narcolepsy can be treated with modafinil, methylphenidate or dexamphetamine and regulated daytime naps. The cataplexy, sleep paralysis and hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations respond to antidepressants (fluoxetine or clomipramine are the most frequently prescribed). People with narcolepsy often have fragmented, poor sleep at night, and good sleep hygiene can be helpful.

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea can be divided into the relatively common obstructive sleep apnoea and the rarer central sleep apnoea. Obstructive sleep apnoea is more common in men than women and is associated with obesity, micrognathia and large neck size. The prevalence may be as high as 4% in men, and 2% in women. The symptoms suggestive of obstructive sleep apnoea are loud snoring, observed nocturnal apnoeic spells, waking at night fighting for breath or with a feeling of choking, morning headache, daytime somnolence, personality change and decreased libido. Although the daytime somnolence can be as severe as narcolepsy, the naps are not usually refreshing and are longer. Obstructive sleep apnoea and central sleep apnoea can be associated with neurological disease, but central sleep apnoea can also occur as an idiopathic syndrome. The correct diagnosis requires polysomnography with measures of oxygen saturations and nasal airflow or chest movements. To be pathological a sleep apnoea or hypopnoea (a 50% reduction in airflow) has to last ten seconds and there need to be more than five apnoeas/hypopnoeas per hour (the precise number to make a diagnosis varies from sleep laboratory to sleep laboratory).

Uncontrolled sleep apnoea can lead to hypertension, cardiac failure, pulmonary hypertension and stroke. In addition, sleep apnoea has been reported to worsen other sleep conditions, such as narcolepsy, and to worsen seizure control.

Treatment of sleep apnoea should include avoidance of alcohol and sedatives and weight reduction. Pharmacological treatment is not particularly effective, although REM suppressants such as protriptyline can be helpful. The mainstays of treatment are surgical and include tonsillectomies, adenoidectomy and procedures to widen the airway, and the use of mechanical devices. Dental appliances to pull the bottom jaw forward can be effective in mild cases, but continuous positive airway pressure administered by a nasal mask has become largely the treatment of choice for moderate/severe obstructive sleep apnoea. In cases associated with neuromuscular weakness intermittent positive pressure ventilation is often necessary.

Restless legs syndrome/periodic limb movements in sleep

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movements in sleep (PLMS) can occur in association or separately. Most people with RLS also have PLMS, but the converse is not true and most people with PLMS do not have RLS. RLS is characterised by an unpleasant sensation in the legs, often described as tingling, cramping or crawling, and an associated overwhelming urge to move the legs. These sensations are usually worse in the evening, and movement only provides temporary relief. RLS affects about 5% of the population. Periodic limb movements in sleep are brief, repetitive jerking of usually the legs that occur every 20 – 40 seconds. These occur in non-REM sleep and can cause frequent arousals. PLMS occurs in about 50% of people over 65 years. These conditions can also be associated with daytime jerks. Both RLS and PLMS can be familial, but can be secondary to peripheral neuropathy (especially diabetic, uraemic and alcoholic neuropathies), iron deficiency, pregnancy and rarely spinal cord lesions.

Symptomatic relief can be achieved with benzodiazepines, gabapentin and opioids, but L-DOPA and dopamine agonists are the mainstay of treatment.

Sleep-wake transition disorders

The most common of these are hypnic jerks or myoclonic jerks that occur on going to sleep or on waking. They are entirely benign in nature, and require no treatment. They can occur in association with other sleep disorders. Rhythmic movement disorder is a collection of conditions occurring in infancy and childhood characterised by repetitive movements occurring immediately prior to sleep onset that can continue into light sleep. One of the most dramatic is headbanging or jactatio capitis nocturna. Persistence of these rhythmic movements beyond the age of ten years is often associated with learning difficulties, autism or emotional disturbance. Sleep-talking can occur during non-REM and REM sleep, but is often seen with wake-sleep transition and is a common and entirely benign phenomenon.

Nocturnal enuresis

Nocturnal enuresis is a common disorder that can occur throughout the night. Although diagnosis is straightforward, it can recur in childhood, and also occurs in the elderly, with approximately 3% of women and 1% of men over the age of 65 years having the disorder. Thus, on occasions, it can be misdiagnosed as nocturnal epilepsy.

Non-REM parasomnias

Non-REM parasomnias usually occur in slow-wave (stage III/IV) sleep. These conditions are often termed arousal disorders and indeed can be induced by forced arousal from slow-wave sleep. There are three main non-REM parasomnias – sleepwalking, night terrors and confusional arousal. These disorders often have a familial basis, but can be brought on by sleep deprivation, alcohol and some drugs. They can also be triggered by other sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, medical and psychiatric illness. Patients are invariably confused during the event, and are also amnesic for the event. These conditions are most common in children, but do occur in adults.

Sleepwalking may occur in up to 25% of children, with the peak incidence occurring from age 11 – 12 years. The condition is characterised by wanderings often with associated complex behaviours such as carrying objects, and eating. Although speech does occur, communication is usually impossible. The episode usually lasts a matter of minutes. Aggressive and injurious behaviour is uncommon, and should it occur then polysomnography may be indicated to exclude an REM sleep parasomnia (see below), and to confirm the diagnosis. Night terrors are less common and are characterised by screaming, and prominent sympathetic nervous system activity – tachycardia, mydriasis and excessive sweating. Both these conditions are usually benign and rarely need treatment. If dangerous behaviour occurs, then treatment may be indicated. Benzodiazepines, especially clonazepam, are usually very effective.

REM parasomnias

Nightmares are REM phenomena that can occur following sleep deprivation, with certain drugs (e.g. L-DOPA) and in association with psychological and neurological disease. Sleep paralysis (see narcolepsy) is also an REM parasomnia, and may be familial.

Of more concern are REM sleep behaviour disorders. These consist of dream enactment. They are often violent, and tend to occur later in sleep when there is more REM sleep. These are rare and tend to occur in the elderly. In over one-third of cases, REM sleep behaviour disorders are symptomatic of an underlying neurological disease such as dementia, multisystem atrophy, Parkinson’s disease, brainstem tumours, multiple sclerosis, subarachnoid haemorrhage and cerebrovascular disease. In view of this, a history of possible REM sleep behaviour disorder needs to be investigated by polysomnography, and if confirmed, then possible aetiologies need to be investigated. REM sleep behaviour disorders respond very well to clonazepam.

Further reading

• BAZIL CW (2002) Sleep and epilepsy. Semin Neurol 22(3) , 321-327.

• FOLDVARY-SCHAEFER NJ (2002) Sleep complaints and epilepsy: the role of seizures,

antiepileptic drugs and sleep disorders. Clin Neurophysiol 19(6) , 514-521.

• MALOW BA (2002) Paroxysmal events in sleep. J Clin Neurophysiol 19(6) , 522-534.

• SCHNEERSON J. Handbook of Sleep Medicine . Blackwell Science, Oxford.

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Source: The Relationship Between Epilepsy and Sleep – Wattpad

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[WEB SITE] Sleep And Traumatic Brain Injury – BrainLine

Research Update: Sleep Medications May Have Unwanted Side EffectsHow common are sleep problems following a TBI?

Many people who have brain injuries suffer from sleep disturbances. Not sleeping well can increase or worsen depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and one’s sense of well-being. It can also lead to poor work performance and traffic or workplace accidents. A review of sleep disorder studies and surveys suggest that sleep disorders are three times more common in TBI patients than in the general population and that nearly 60% of people with TBI experience long-term difficulties with sleep. Women were more likely to be affected than men. Sleep problems are more likely to develop as the person ages.

What are types of sleep problems?

Sleep disturbances have been found in people with all severities of brain injuries from mild to severe. Sleep is a complex process that involves many parts of the brain. For this reason, and depending on the location and extent of injury, many different kinds of sleep disturbances can occur after brain injury.

Common sleep disorders include:

  • Insomnia: Difficulty with falling asleep or staying asleep; or sleep that does not make you feel rested. Insomnia can worsen other problems resulting from brain injury, including behavioral and cognitive (thinking) difficulties. Insomnia makes it harder to learn new things. Insomnia is typically worse directly after injury and often improves as time passes.
  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness: Extreme drowsiness.
  • Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome: Mixed-up sleep patterns.
  • Narcolepsy: Falling asleep suddenly and uncontrollably during the day.

Common sleep syndromes include:

  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): Urge to move the legs because they feel uncomfortable, especially at night or when lying down.
  • Bruxism: Grinding or clenching teeth.
  • Sleep Apnea: Brief pauses in breathing during sleep, resulting in reduced oxygen flow to the brain and causing loud snoring and frequent awakening.
  • Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD): Involuntary movement of legs and arms during sleep.
  • Sleepwalking: Walking or performing other activities while sleeping and not being aware of it.

Continue –> Sleep And Traumatic Brain Injury.

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