If you have an epilepsy diagnosis, it’s likely you’ve been told about the importance of quality sleep to reduce seizures. Yet there doesn’t seem to be a huge emphasis on sleep to reduce seizures in my personal experience. The focus usually seems to land on the medication you’re taking. I completely understand this, but we can’t forget all of the different lifestyle changes that can help too.
Sleep is incredible for all aspects of our health, not just for helping to control epileptic seizures. Sleep is a time for your body and mind to rest and work its magic repairing itself.
Getting extra sleep to reduce seizures can also help us to manage unwanted side effects of anti-epileptic drugs. For example, some drugs have a negative impact on your mental health and bring fatigue along with them too. Although fatigue isn’t always as simple as getting some extra sleep, quality sleep can do wonders for your mental health.
Sleep deprivation has a big impact on epilepsy and is one of the most common seizure triggers. Some of us with epilepsy even suffer sleep seizures and, sadly, SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death because of Epilepsy). Both of these are big topics in their own rights. So for today, we’re going to focus on setting ourselves up for an absolutely life-changing night’s sleep to reduce seizures.
Why we need to prepare for sleep to reduce our seizures
The NHS recommends that the average adult gets between 6-9 hours of sleep per night. Of course, the optimal amount of sleep varies from person to person.
When we first decide to change our sleep pattern, it might not be as simple as heading to bed earlier. Unless you’re particularly sleep-deprived of course. Sometimes you have to make an effort to be able to sleep earlier. It might feel annoying at first, but your new bedtime routine might soon turn into something you look forward to.
How to set yourself up for a life-changing nights sleep to reduce seizures
Add some mood lighting to your room
I absolutely love using mood lighting, it’s so relaxing! I find being able to switch the big light off as soon as the sun starts to set, allows me to start winding down hours before I need to go to bed. Plus it creates a nice, calm atmosphere for even just watching TV.
You can add mood lighting to any room very easily and cheaply. Just pick up some fairy lights and hang them around your room. Or you can pick up a small lamp or some candles which will do the job too!
Minimise electronics before bed
Try and put away your phone, tablet or laptop before bed and switch off the tv instead. All the electronics we use are highly stimulating so we don’t want to be using them before bed when we’re trying to wind down.
If time tends to get away with you and before you know it you’re still scrolling on Instagram at 2am, why not try some of the bedtime features your phone likely offers. On my phone, I found a “wind-down” setting which I have scheduled to turn on at 10pm. The screen becomes black and white, and notifications are muted which results in me naturally spending less time on my phone before bed. Plus that change on my phone reminds me of the time and that I should be heading to bed soon.
Indulge in some self care
There are many different forms of self-care and sometimes it’s as easy as saying “no” to an event because you know it’ll lead to sleep deprivation for you. If it isn’t a once in a lifetime event that you’ll cherish, is it really worth the risk of a seizure?
Instead you could take a luxurious bubble bath with some candles, relaxing music and your favourite book. You could jump into bed earlier and get lost in said favourite book as you drift off. Or how about an adult colouring book so you can gently focus on creating something beautiful.
One stress releasing way to clear your mind is to journal the day away. If your mind is full you likely have plenty in your mind to get down on paper. If you feel stressed but don’t know what to write about, quickly Google some journal prompts. You wouldn’t believe the difference getting your thoughts on paper makes – it’s honestly like magic.
Cut out caffeine
If you’re constantly drinking coffee, tea and energy drinks throughout the day, it’s no surprise that they’ll be keeping you up. Trying cutting down on them, starting from the drink that’s closest to bed, slowly cutting down until you’ve cut out caffeine completely!
Once you cut our caffeine you might, like me, find that you don’t even need it anymore. If you eliminate what’s disrupting your night’s sleep then you’re at the very least one step closer to your life changing night’s sleep to reduce seizures.
Try a guided meditation
Over the past month I have been using a Headspace guided meditation to drift off to sleep. I don’t have any trouble falling asleep, but because when I follow a guided meditation, my quality of sleep is amazing. I highly recommend it if you’re striving for life changing sleep to reduce seizures – we do need a high quality sleep just as much as we need enough hours.
Unlock the power of using sleep to help reduce seizures
Developing habits for life-changing sleeping to reduce sleeping might take some work, but it’s worth it. Once we make the effort to actively reduce any sleep deprivation then it’s likely we’ll see a positive difference in all areas of our lives, including in our epilepsy. Putting in the extra work, which before long won’t feel like work, will help us to develop a more regular sleep pattern to help reduce seizures. Even if sleep isn’t a big seizure trigger for you and it doesn’t reduce your seizures, what can you lose from some relaxation and a good night’s sleep?
Until next time,