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About epilepsy and sleep disorders

Doctors talking

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a common, chronic disease involving seizures, or sudden bursts of electrical activity in the brain. Sometimes people have seizures for no obvious reason. Other times, things like stress, alcohol or drug use, flashing lights, or not getting enough sleep can cause seizures. What seizures feels like, what they looks like from the outside, and how often they occur vary from person to person.

How is epilepsy treated?

There is no cure for epilepsy, but medicines and other treatments can prevent seizures from occurring and reduce their impact on your life. A variety of medicines are available--the type(s) that work best for you may depend on your age, gender, overall health, and other factors. Treatment can also include changes to your work schedule, diet, and sleep habits to make seizures less likely. For some people surgery, or implanted devices to control seizures may be an option.

To read more about treatment options at Duke, or to schedule an appointment, click here.

What are sleep disorders, and how are they treated?

A variety of conditions can interfere with the body's ability to sleep in a healthy way. These conditions include:

  • narcolepsy, a condition which causes a person to become too sleepy, or have "sleep attacks" where they fall asleep at inappropriate times
  • insomnia, or the inability to sleep. While most people will experience short-term insomnia at one point or another, some people experience persistent insomnia that lasts for weeks or months.
  • sleep apnea, a condition caused when breathing is interrupted during sleep
  • restless legs syndrome, a condition where a person feels the need to constantly move his or her legsĀ  at night.

Experts at our nationally recognized sleep disorders center can treat adults or children with these or other sleep disorders. Click here to read more or make an appointment.