July 3, 2023

Sleep Problems in Adolescents with Epilepsy and their Caregivers: Associations with Behavioral Difficulties

Abstract found on PubMed

Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the frequency of sleep problems in adolescents with epilepsy and their caregivers. We also examined the behavioural difficulties in adolescents with epilepsy and compared these behaviors with healthy controls.


Methods: This observational case-control study included 37 adolescents with epilepsy and their caregivers, and 43 healthy age-matched adolescents and their caregivers. The Children`s Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ), DSM-5 Level 2 Sleep Disorders Scale for Children, and Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) were used to evaluate sleep habits, sleep problems, and behavioural difficulties in adolescents. The DSM-5 sleep disorder scale for adults was used to evaluate the caregivers` sleep problems.


Results: Adolescents with epilepsy had higher sleep problem scores such as daytime sleepiness and overall sleep problems compared with healthy controls. The psychopathological symptoms such as conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, and total behavior were also more frequent in adolescents with epilepsy. There was a nonsignificant increase in DSM-5 sleep disturbance score in caregivers of adolescents with epilepsy. Sleep onset delay had a significant negative correlation with total behavioral difficulties (r = -0.44, p < 0.01), and emotional problems (r = -0.47, p < 0.05) in adolescents with epilepsy. Sleep duration was negatively correlated with conduct problems (r = -0.33, p < 0.05), but positively correlated with prosocial score (r = 0.46, p < 0.01) in adolescents with epilepsy. Night waking was positively correlated with total behavioral difficulties (r = 0.35, p < 0.05) and hyperactivity score (r = 0.38, p < 0.05) in adolescents with epilepsy.


Conclusions: Adolescents with epilepsy have more frequent sleep disturbances and maladaptive behaviors such as hyperactivity/inattention, and conduct problems compared with healthy controls, and their caregivers are more vulnerable to sleep problems. Moreover, we also demonstrated a strong association between sleep disturbances and behavioral problems in adolescents with epilepsy.