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Curr Opin Neurol. 1994 Apr;7(2):107-12.

Epilepsy and sleep.

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Universitätsklinikum Charité, Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, Germany.


This review discusses several aspects of epilepsy and sleep. The level of wakefulness is controlled by transmitters such as acetylcholine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and histamine. These neurotransmitters are involved in modulatory neurotransmission of the ascending brain stem systems, which play an important role in controlling the sleep-wake cycle. Experimental evidence suggests that rapid eye movement sleep atonia is induced by increased endogenous acetylcholine release. Regarding sleep factors, recent data suggest that prolactin may stimulate rapid eye movement sleep and that growth hormone-releasing factor is involved in non-rapid eye movement sleep regulation. The neuropharmacologic features of several animal models of epilepsy have been investigated. Epileptiform discharges of genetic absence seizures in rats have been found to be suppressed by cholinergic drugs. The beta-carboline abecarnil has a strong antiepileptic effect on spike-wave discharges in rats that generate spontaneous spike-wave discharges, and it may be useful as an antiepileptic drug. Sleep epilepsy has been studied in a model of amygdala-kindled kittens. During the postkindling development, multifocal epilepsy with convulsions occurred that were distributed throughout the sleep-wake cycle; this finding agrees with the clinical literature. A typical feature of juvenile myoclonic epilepsy is the occurrence of seizures in a strict relationship to the sleep-wake cycle. There is now some neurophysiologic evidence that this syndrome also causes disturbance of sleep stability with increased arousal reactions. Nocturnal paroxysmal dystonia is not a homogeneous entity. Several clinical reports indicate that the short-lasting variant is most likely a form of frontal lobe epilepsy, but the nature of the longer-lasting variants is still obscure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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