Severe sleep apnea and epileptic seizures?

by Seizure
(USA, New York)

I am a 42 yr old female who has been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. I do not snore, am not overweight, & I do not have high blood pressure but I do have a narrow throat.

I do not suffer from daytime drowsiness, I feel like I get a good night sleep & I exercise regularly. I will not use a CPAP so I am in the process of being fitted for a dental appliance, although I'm not sure if I will be able to sleep with one.

The reason I found out that I have severe sleep apnea is because a few months ago I had an apparent seizure while sleeping & after having every test imaginable & all coming back normal, my doctor suggested a sleep study just to rule it out. He was as surprised as me with the results.

No one can say for certain if the apnea caused the seizure but I always wonder if it did. I haven't had one since. I feel fine during the day but I have constant dreams during the night & remember them vividly all day.

Could this be because of my sleep apnea & can I treat it on my own? I also suffer from a little anxiety, I think just because I worry about having another seizure.


One of the main symptoms of sleep apnea is excessive daytime sleepiness and low quality of sleep. Although you don't have these symptoms, the sleep test results show that you have severe sleep apnea. That's interesting...

It would be helpful if you tell me what type of sleep apnea you have: obstructive apnea - where loud and irregular snoring, breathing stops for 10 seconds or more during sleep, and gasping for air are common symptoms, or central apnea, where you don't snore but you stop breathing in sleep due to brain problems (you just "forget" to breathe).

However, because your doctor recommends a dental device for your treatment, it's obvious that he knows you have obstructive apnea. You can't treat central apnea with dental devices.

The seizure that you've had can be caused by sleep apnea, and is also called epileptic seizure. The term “epilepsy” applies to a disorder of abnormal brain electrical activity, whereas the term “seizure” applies to the clinical manifestation.

Sleep deprivation is a known precipitant of epileptic seizures. Most seizures, if they occur during sleep, occur during the non-REM sleep stages. Rarely do seizures occur during REM sleep.

Have you had a stroke before? Severe sleep apnea can cause stroke, and generalized seizures can occur as a result of central nervous system lesions, such as a stroke.

Bottom line... you could develop sleep-related epileptic seizures but also daytime episodes if your sleep apnea is untreated and severe.

After one year of treatment with dental devices, I recommend to go for another sleep study, to see if there is any improvement in your quality of sleep and your general health. You could try to diagnose if you have sleep related epileptic seizures with polysomnographic monitoring with extensive electroencephalographic recording during sleep.

Oh, and another thing...CPAP is the best way to eliminate the seizures and the other side effects that you may have. So, if your dental device is not effective, you know what you have to do...

I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

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