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Researchers from the University of Birmingham have discovered a possible connection between sleep patterns, stress hormones, and seizures in individuals with epilepsy. Their study employed mathematical analysis to explore how physiological processes like sleep and cortisol fluctuations influence epileptiform discharges, a key aspect of epilepsy.

Epileptiform discharge fluctuations cause seizures 

Epilepsy, a serious neurological disorder, involves recurring spontaneous seizures. Conventionally, seizures were considered random events, but the identification of ED activity with different timescales ranging from hours to months has raised questions about this belief.

Scientists conducted an investigation involving 107 individuals with idiopathic generalized epilepsy, using 24-hour EEG recordings. The analysis revealed two distinct subgroups within the population: one group had a higher occurrence of epileptiform discharges during sleep, while the other experienced them more frequently during the daytime.

The study found that cortisol dynamics, sleep stage transitions, or a combination of both factors were the main explanations for the observed variations in ED (likely referring to some specific variable or condition).

Around 65 million people worldwide have epilepsy, with common seizure triggers such as stress, sleep deprivation, and fatigue. Research led by Dr. Isabella Marinelli from the University of Birmingham’s Center for Systems Modeling & Quantitative Biomedicine suggests that sleep patterns and cortisol concentration changes are key physiological factors driving epileptic discharges. The researchers’ mathematical approach offers insights into factors contributing to epileptic activity and seizures in epilepsy patients.

Epileptic individuals experience more seizures at night 

Researchers created a mathematical model to explain brain region interactions and how their excitability can be influenced by different factors like sleep stage transitions and cortisol levels. They found that epilepsy patients experience increased seizure frequency at night, especially in the early morning and during stress. The study highlighted that sleep had a major impact in one group (90% variation), while cortisol played a significant role in another group (about 60% variation).

Dr. Marinelli’s study found that sleep alone cannot explain the likelihood of ED changes observed during wakefulness in a subgroup. ED likelihood increases initially during sleep but decreases later, attributed to deep sleep in the first third of the sleep period.