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Could Staying Up Late Induce Epilepsy? A Dangerous Habit Revealed

By Skye Sherman  •   September 13, 2021

Photo Credit: by Christopher Jolly, Unsplash.com
Photo Credit: by Christopher Jolly, Unsplash.com

Some bad habits are more obvious than others. We all know that smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating junk food causes harm to our health. But did you hear the recent news story about the 20-year-old girl who stayed up late too many days in a row? You might not believe what this unhealthy choice led to.

An article in CAC News shared, “Recently, a 20-year-old girl was admitted to a hospital in Xi’an, Shaanxi. The patient had epilepsy induced by staying up late for a long time. … The doctor said that the girl’s symptoms were generally unconsciousness, falling to the ground, and twitching of her limbs. The doctor learned that this young girl likes to stay up late and suffers from severe lack of sleep. She only goes to bed after one or two o’clock every day.”

It might be hard to believe, but it seems that staying up late can possibly induce epilepsy. In this article, we’ll explore what can happen from a habit of staying up too late.

Irregular sleep: a risk factor that can lead to epilepsy

Did you know that sleep deprivation can trigger a seizure? According to the Epilepsy Foundation, “Seizures are very sensitive to sleep patterns. Some people have their first and only seizures after an ‘all-nighter’ at college or after not sleeping well for long periods. If you have epilepsy, lack of ‘good sleep’ makes most people more likely to have seizures. It can even increase the intensity and length of seizures. Some forms of epilepsy are especially prone to sleep problems.”

This is likely why the girl in the article experienced an epileptic seizure after staying up too late for a long time. The Epilepsy Foundation also explains that changes in the brain’s electrical and hormonal activity occur during normal sleep-wake cycles. For some people, their sleep patterns are very tied to their seizure patterns, and that’s why poor or inadequate sleep can be a trigger.

The CAC News article explains, “Epilepsy is a common disease in neurology. It can be seen in any age group, and it is more common in adolescents. From the current epidemiological survey data, we can see that 50 to 60% of patients are teenagers. The doctor said that the cause of epilepsy in young people is mainly related to irregular living habits, e.g.:

1. Stay up late for a long time and deprive you of sleep time;

2. Too much eating at night;

3. Long-term skipping of breakfast leads to excessive hunger;

4. Like (excessive use) of electronic products, playing games and watching horror movies for a long time, putting the spirit in a state of high tension, etc.”

In other words, not getting enough sleep can cause serious health issues, including epilepsy. Sleep is an important function of our body and that’s why it can have such a major impact on our health. If you have epilepsy or are not sure if you have it, pulling an all-nighter to find out probably isn’t worth it.

Dangers of staying up too late

Of course, not everyone will experience an epileptic seizure by pulling an all-nighter or staying up too late. Only those with epilepsy will experience an epileptic seizure.

That doesn’t mean staying up too late isn’t dangerous for everyone, though. Even the healthiest people with no underlying conditions or diseases will experience some degree of harm as a result of staying up too late and not sleeping enough. That’s because staying up too late and not getting enough sleep is simply bad for you.

According to the NHS, “Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, coronary heart disease and diabetes – and it shortens your life expectancy.”

That’s right: not getting enough sleep can actually shorten your life. If you want to become a centenarian or live a long life, you’re going to have to get plenty of sleep!

The Sleep Doctor also reports other dangers of sleep deprivation, which can be just as bad for you as being drunk. While short-term effects can include mood issues (such as irritability, anxiety, lack of motivation, and even depression), lack of energy and concentration, forgetfulness, slow reactions, poor decision-making abilities, and even the impulse to overeat, the long-term effects are even more dangerous.

“Long-term sleep deprivation puts you at increased risk of:

● High blood pressure

● Heart attacks

● Obesity

● Type 2 Diabetes

● Infertility

● Psychosis

● Memory Loss

● Suppressed Immune Response

● Brain damage

● Death, indirectly

Wait, hold on–does that mean that not sleeping enough can actually kill you? The short answer is yes–in very, very severe situations.”

The article also explains that sleep deprivation has also been found to increase mortality in general. “A group of 3 studies conducted in 2002-2004 with large populations of people found that people who slept 5 or fewer hours per day (versus a baseline of seven) faced a 15% higher mortality rate from all causes.”

In addition, keep in mind that long-term sleep deprivation also puts you at increased risk of imbalanced hormones, which may lower sexual performance or cause ED (erectile dysfunction), or even lead to baldness.

For all these reasons and more, don’t skip out on your sleep. It might induce epilepsy in some, but in all people, it will cause damage to your health. It’s not worth it to pull an all-nighter. If you have trouble sleeping for other reasons, seek medical attention from a healthcare professional. A doctor might recommend prescription medication for a sleep disorder if applicable. Some people also choose to self-medicate with over-the-counter (OTC) sleep supplements such as melatonin. However, it is always best to consult your physician or a trusted pharmacist before taking melatonin.

Of course, it’s important to remember that one occasional sleepless night isn’t the end of the world. You might feel tired and grumpy the next day, but your body is resilient and it can recover. However, if you regularly get insufficient sleep or experience several sleepless nights in a row, that’s when the problems arise.

The NHS explains, “After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. Your risk of injury and accidents at home, work and on the road also increases.”

Sleep is vital for so many of our body’s functions, including cell regeneration and repair, immune system strength, our mental and emotional wellbeing, and our physical abilities and endurance. Humans cannot live without sleep, so make sure you get ample hours of sleep every night. Stay on a regular sleep schedule for best results.

Sleep hygiene: How to implement good sleep habits

Looking for a healthier approach to sleep? One of the best things for you to do for your body is to stay on a regular sleep routine. Going to bed at generally the same time every night (and also getting up around the same time every day) helps your body best prepare for and expect when to sleep.

The CDC also recommends a few tips for sleeping better. “Good sleep habits (sometimes referred to as ‘sleep hygiene’) can help you get a good night’s sleep. Some habits that can improve your sleep health:

● Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends

● Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature

● Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom

● Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime

● Get some exercise. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.”

Some other tips for better sleep are to avoid screen time for a few hours before bedtime, don’t eat a big meal just before bedtime, and create a comfortable and cozy sleep environment. Being in a dark room at a comfortable temperature with minimal sound pollution is the best scenario for sleep.

Make sure to prioritize your sleep like you would prioritize the other aspects of your physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s a key ingredient.



The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.