Seizure or dreaming?

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Hi. Apologies if this has been asked before I'm new to this group & to epilepsy.

How can you tell if your little one is having a seizure in their sleep or if they're dreaming?

I've noticed that my 3 year old will act strangely not long after she's been to sleep & sometimes in the middle of the night if I've gone into her but I don't know if it's a seizure or if she's acting out a dream.

A couple of times a week she will sort of (with the palm of her hand) repeatedly & in quick succession tap the bed or me when I'm next to her. It will last about 30 seconds to a minute.

Another time she jerked her head from side or side repeatedly. Like she was shaking her head but more pronounced. Like if you swing your head around quick when someone calls your name but then go left to right & back several times. Hard to explain in words but hope that makes sense

I don't know what a sleep seizure would look like so don't know if this is just dreaming or something to note. Anyone able to help me figure it out?
 

Kgartner

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I remember when my daughter was first diagnosed with epilepsy I worried that she was having seizures in her sleep. It turned out that she wasn't - a lot of "normal" sleep behavior can look a lot like seizures - but I worried about it a lot!

There are some kinds of epilepsy in which people have lots of different types of seizures, but for most people the seizures are "stereotypical" - i.e. they follow the same pattern each time. Once I had seen a number of my daughter's seizures I began to recognize the pattern - in her case it was literally the same sequence on repeat. I realized that her behavior at night did not fit those patterns so it was very unlikely that they were seizures. One caveat is that seizures can change over time, but generally you are looking for repetitive patterns.

So do these episodes look like the seizures you have observed, or like the beginning of those seizures? If so, they are probably seizures. If not, they MIGHT still be seizures, but it is less likely.

Looking at your profile it appears that you will be getting EEGs etc. done soon. I would definitely mention these episodes to your neurologist to see what they think. It is probably a good idea to make sure you get a longer-term EEG that includes readings while she is sleeping so that you can check this out.

Best of luck to you!
 
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Thank you Kgartner. She has had 2 types of seizure in the day. Her sleep actions have some similarities to her standard seizures but not exactly the same.

In one of her seizures she had this jerking movement in her arms, in the other she thinks she is falling but isn't & stares into space with her leg shaking

With the sleep symptoms the jerking movement would match up. One thing I forgot to mention, after she has first gone off to sleep she will sometimes jump with her whole body as though she actually is falling. She will briefly open her eyes but she is still asleep as there isn't anyone there behind her eyes so to speak. This could correlate to the falling episodes possibly but may be unconnected as her 'falling' seizures don't actually involved any actual falling

The paediatrician said that after a standard eeg they were likely to do a sleep eeg so that'll be useful. I shall definitely mention my concerns to him. He did say that I could call and leave him a note anytime. I might give his secretary a call tomorrow to drop this on file, why didn't I think of this sooner
He knows the details of both of her standard seizures so it might help to either eliminate or add to her investigations
It'll be a good idea to make him aware ahead of our eeg appointment?

Thanks for your reply & your help. This is all so hard to get my head around!
 

Kgartner

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With the sleep symptoms the jerking movement would match up. One thing I forgot to mention, after she has first gone off to sleep she will sometimes jump with her whole body as though she actually is falling. She will briefly open her eyes but she is still asleep as there isn't anyone there behind her eyes so to speak. This could correlate to the falling episodes possibly but may be unconnected as her 'falling' seizures don't actually involved any actual falling
. . .

It'll be a good idea to make him aware ahead of our eeg appointment?

Thanks for your reply & your help. This is all so hard to get my head around!
What you are describing above is most likely a "hypnic jerk" - a totally normal experience that most of us have from time to time when falling asleep. But the other things you described do sound like they could be seizure activity. I'm glad that you are already scheduled to get them checked out.

If you have the chance I would definitely go over any of your observations before your EEG appointment! It will give your neuro a chance to discuss them with you and help you understand what the EEG is looking for.

And yes, it is very hard to adjust to an epilepsy diagnosis! Give yourself time and space. My daughter had her first seizures at 15 - it's been 2 1/2 years and I still feel dislocated from time to time.
 
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