Children with epilepsy are more likely to experience sleep problems, resulting in a poorer quality of life, according to a study published in the scientific journal Seizure.The authors, based at the Mersin University School of Medicine, in Turkey, suggest that the sleeping habits of children with epilepsy should be assessed during clinic visits, because efficient sleep is associated with an overall better quality of life and improved psychosocial functioning.They also advise that screening children with epilepsy for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) should be considered, since sleep problems can be associated this condition.Study designA total of 53 children with epilepsy and 28 controls with minor medical problems, aged 7 to 18 years, were included in the study. The children’s parents were asked to complete both the ‘Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire‘(CSHQ) and a children’s quality of life questionnaire. The children’s mothers were also asked to complete depression and anxiety inventories for themselves.The researchers used the responses to compare sleep problems between children and adolescents with and without epilepsy. They also examined whether or not there were associations between sleep problems and a) quality of life, b) the presence of ADHD and c) the mothers’ mental health.ResultsThe team found that children with epilepsy had a higher total score in the CSHQ compared to those without epilepsy, indicating that they experienced more sleep problems.The data also showed that children with moderate to severe sleep problems tended to have lower quality of life scores, and higher disruptive behaviour and hyperactivity–impulsivity scores. In addition, the mothers of children with moderate to severe sleep difficulties generally reported higher levels of depression and anxiety.Background and future workSleep problems are often under-diagnosed and under-treated in children with epilepsy. However, due to the close link between efficient sleep and higher quality of life, tackling sleep problems in children with epilepsy can dramatically improve quality of life.According to the authors, larger studies are now needed to clarify the complex relationship between sleep problems, ADHD and epilepsy.Author: Dr Özge ÖzkayaEpilepsy Research UK is currently funding a pilot study at University College London, into the link between sleep problems and social and cognitive development in infants. Click here for more information.Click here for more news articles about epilepsy in children.