Epilepsy Talk

12 Sleep Tricks | April 27, 2014

We all know that sleep deprivation can trigger seizures.

Some people’s seizures are tied very closely with their sleep. You may have all of your seizures while sleeping, when falling asleep or waking up.

Lot of things can affect your sleep and make you more likely to have seizures. Here are a few factors to consider:

Not getting enough sleep
Not getting ‘good quality’ sleep
Having seizures at night
Depression and anxiety
Stimulants taken prior to sleep
Medication side-effects
Sleep disorders

It’s definitely a vicious cycle. And so I searched for some sleep tips. Some may be familiar to you and some may be new…

1.) Try changing your sleeping position
Sleep on your side, not your back. It’s the best position for relaxing, and allows all your internal organs to rest properly. This may be due to the effects of gravity, which cause your throat to narrow when you lie on your back and allows more oxygen in when you sleep on your side. Special pillows can help maintain this position.

2.) Squeeze and relax
Lying on your back, breathe slowly and tense your toes tightly as if you are trying to curl them under your foot, then relax them. On another slow breath, curl your foot up toward your knee, then release. Breathe again, contract your calf muscles, then your thighs, buttocks, belly, chest, arms, and neck until you have moved all the way up your body, squeezing and releasing the muscles one by one. When you have gone from head to toe, your breathing should be steady and you should feel ready for sleep.

3.) Pressure points
There are special points in the body which promote sleep when pressed gently but firmly. Put your thumb on the point between your eyebrows at the top of your nose, where there’s a slight indent. Hold for 20 seconds, release briefly and repeat twice more. Next, sit on the edge of the bed and put your right foot across your left knee. Find the slight indent between your big toe and second toe and press in the same way. Finally, while still supporting your right foot, find the point just below the nail on the upper side of your second toe. Using the thumb and forefinger of your right hand, gently squeeze the toe.

4.) Deep breathing
I breath in through my nostrils and hold my breath for ten seconds — although, some people do it for 5 seconds — and then exhale from my mouth to the count of ten, through pursed lips. (Think of blowing out birthday candles!)

5.) Inhale through your left nostril
This yoga method is thought to reduce blood pressure and calm you. Lie on your left side, resting a finger on your right nostril to close it. Start slow, deep breathing in the left nostril.

6.) Visualize
Imagine yourself in a situation where you feel content — a tropical paradise, sailing on calm waters, walking in flower fields. Imagine smelling flowers, feeling grass or sand under your feet and hearing water lap against the boat. You should soon feel relaxed and drift off.

7.) Turn off all electronics
Say no to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Email, Texting, and any other social media outlet you participate in at least an hour before sleeping. Besides the bright light from the screens, social media outlets (like on your phone and computer) can cause stress and raise anxiety levels.

8.) Reduce unwanted noise
Turn on a white noise generator or a recording of sounds from nature. The constant, low-level sound drowns out other noises that may prevent you from falling asleep. You could also listen to soft, relaxing music. (I put a flat Sony Discman under my pillow with earbuds to relax with mellow music. Sometimes when I awake, the music is still playing!)

9.) Keep it dark
Bright lights, not just from electronics, can be an enemy to falling asleep. They trick your body into thinking it’s too early in the day for sleep, and prevent an increase in hormones responsible for sleepiness. Turn off all overhead lights, night lights, and lamps to fall asleep faster. Don’t forget to close your blinds too! Light-blocking curtains can be extra beneficial when combined with closed blinds for improved sleep speed.

10.) Avoid illuminated bedroom clocks
Try to keep your bedroom as dark as possible. An illuminated bedroom clock is a source of light that can be extremely annoying if you’re having a hard time getting to sleep. If you can’t replace the clock, at least block its light with something.

11.) Roll your eyes
Closing your eyes and rolling the balls up three times can do the job. It simulates what you do naturally when you fall asleep and may help trigger the release of your sleepy hormone, melatonin.

12.) Hum to yourself (I’m sure your partner will love it!)
Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes, drop your shoulders, relax your jaw, but keep your mouth gently closed. Breathe in through your nose as deeply as is comfortable, ensuring your stomach, not chest, rises. Breathe gently out of your mouth — lips together — so you hum. Try to hum for the whole out-breath. Notice how it vibrates in your chest. Focus fully on this vibration over six breaths then sit quietly for a moment.

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  1. there was 1 morning, tho, when I had slept on my side. when I woke up I found that I slept on my arm wrong and I had lost practically all use of one hand and much of my arm. I had to do physical therapy to regain use.


    Comment by Alan Bishop — April 27, 2014 @ 7:59 PM

  2. Oh dear Alan, that IS extreme.

    I sleep on my right arm and usually find that when I wake up, it doesn’t. So I have to wake it up myself.

    Shimmy and shake! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 28, 2014 @ 9:24 AM

    • tthat nurse was probably just stabbing in the dark to respond to my condition, so a mini stroke was all she could think of. it’s sad to think she’s working in health care.


      Comment by Alan Bishop — April 28, 2014 @ 10:47 AM

  3. I lived with it for a few days b4 I went to the dr. the nurse asked if I had a history of strokes.


    Comment by Alan Bishop — April 28, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

  4. Well, that’s scary. Did you think you had mini strokes because of your arm and hand?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 28, 2014 @ 10:13 AM

  5. I never even considered it, and the dr. even put it in her records that it was because I’d had seizures when I was asleep. JUST BECAUSE I SLEPT ON MY ARM WRONG! this has made me wonder about how much my doctors REALLY understand my condition.


    Comment by Alan Bishop — April 28, 2014 @ 11:47 AM

  6. Sad but true. Do they know as much as you do? 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 28, 2014 @ 12:07 PM

  7. not as much about the way it has affected ME. they know more about the technicalities of what has happened, but they haven’t had to deal with the after effects.


    Comment by Alan Bishop — April 28, 2014 @ 12:24 PM

  8. I found a great app called Sleep Soundly Hypnosis, it’s free and you can get it on Google Play (i don’t have an iphone so I’m not sure if it’s available there). I plug in my ear buds and it puts me out within 10 minutes.


    Comment by Beth — April 28, 2014 @ 6:46 PM

  9. Wow Beth, that’s a great resource. Especially since most of us have android phones.

    But I did find an app for android phones and iPhones called:

    The 15 Best Sleep iPhone & Android Apps of 2013


    Some are free and some aren’t.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 28, 2014 @ 7:13 PM

  10. Apple admits iPhone 5 manufacturing flaw, launches sleep button replacement program



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 28, 2014 @ 7:59 PM

  11. I just have a dumbphond


    Comment by Alan Bishop — April 29, 2014 @ 9:52 AM

  12. I have to wear a sleep apnea machine cause I tend to stop breathing during the night and when you don’t get enough oxygen that to will make it hard to sleep at night. Cause before I was told I had I would have to take a sleeping pill just so I would get enough sleep. Cause I would wake up every few hours before all this happen.


    Comment by Corina — April 29, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

    • Corina, what type of sleep apnea device do you have? Because there are different models available:

      Although CPAP therapy is extremely effective in reducing apneas and less expensive than other treatments, some people find it extremely uncomfortable.

      In fact, lots of people refuse to continue the therapy or fail to use their CPAP machines on a nightly basis, especially in the long term.

      But more comfortable CPAP face masks are available.

      CPAP masks come in different shapes, sizes and materials to ensure effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.

      It’s more of matter of pursuing the mask that best fits you.



      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 29, 2014 @ 10:24 AM

  13. Alan, these apps may help you:

    “My phone is called the LG Xpression. The coolest thing I can do on my cell is set an alarm clock.”


    GetJar offers non-smartphone owners app ability


    Apps for “Dumbphones


    Run on a large number of cell phones, these days many mobile devices have support for Java ME
    Vibrates and plays the sound of a real kitchen timer.



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 29, 2014 @ 10:20 AM

  14. I have some tips for some of this. I have a large LED alarm clock. Because the color was green, I applied a red and blue gel (the plastic that colors stage lights use) over the display. You use the OPPOSITE color of the display to dim/filter it. So if it’s red first try aqua, if not enough then go to blue. I had to block the light from a new heat control display (about 3×4 inch!) the night I arrived in TX this winter. I quickly cut a chunk of red and made sure it covered the entire display and used scotch tape to hold it. Worked great until we dug out the manual to figure out how to turn off the display the next day. I do the same trick for my modem and wireless router lights. As well I cut small bits for lights on outlets or the CO detector.

    For light coming in my window I originally put up blackout venetian blinds. After housing ripped them down I hung hooks and mounted grommets/rings to a thick weave cloth and hung it to block light from the sun/security light that will shine in.

    I don’t close the bedroom door, but I will shut the bathroom door because of light sources and the toilet deciding to turn on every 20 minutes.

    The latter tip we all know from high school/college times is NO LATE CAFFEINE.


    Comment by Travis — April 30, 2014 @ 8:15 PM

  15. That’s BRILLIANT Travis.

    Especially, the part about the alarm clock. I can’t turn mine around because I’m blind without my glasses, so that’s a great strategy for me.

    We have black-out curtains. (Arthur is also real sensitive to light and has trouble sleeping, but unlike you, we don’t drink caffeine at night. (If you want to play, you’ve got to pay!!!)

    Thanks for ALL of your suggestions…


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 1, 2014 @ 10:01 AM

  16. This is more than advice! I have early morning seizures but since I started doing at least nine of these I have not had a seizure in more than nine months! if I am stressed or anxious, major Seizure trigger for me. I will get quite do some breathing exercises and it settles me right down! Law of attraction meditation app has shown me how to do this! SHARING IS CARING!


    Comment by Anita — May 1, 2014 @ 9:45 PM

  17. Anita, you couldn’t be more right.

    Sharing IS caring!

    As for the deep breathing, that’s my #1 answer. You can do it any place, any time and it truly calms me down.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 2, 2014 @ 10:36 AM

  18. Well, I do take sleep meds but I take one brand one month and another the next month and a third the third month and on and on. Never got hooked on one kind. As Norco for pain makes me a “Fast Eddie” type, I just have to take something. My doc first gave me Codeine—well, he gave it to my hub to give to me—then he changed it to Norco. Or really to my husband blah blah blah. Now listen up, we have hand guns in this house, IF I WANTED TO KILL MYSELF I WOULD HAVE USED THE GUN(s) LONG AGO!!!! Oh, the pain is from discs I scruntched (is that a word?) while seizing. It’s just a mad world.


    Comment by meesher — May 15, 2014 @ 11:08 AM

    • Hey you’re cheating on your sleep meds. Or not being faithful.

      I don’t need a handgun in this house. A bottle of CODEINE will do ME in!

      As for the discs, what kind of therapy are you doing?

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 15, 2014 @ 2:37 PM

  19. I’m not sure how to start this but I will start when I joined the army in 1977. When I joined I had my choice of infantry or supply, I decided on supply. After basic training and AIT I went airborne but I hurt my leg and decided instead of waiting around for the next rotation I would put in to be stationed overseas.

    I was in the Army for 16 ½ years. My first station was in a place called Mokiminoto, in Okinawa, Japan. I was stationed there for 2 years and I loved it. The unit I was with was so small that they changed it to a detachment. Snorkeling, Scuba diving, gambling, typhoons and women helped out the boredom.

    I will only talk about my overseas duty stations or I would have to write a book. The second tour was Korea, I lucked out and got put in 2nd Div on a hardship tour for a year. After going back to the states I was sent back to Korea on a command sponsored tour for 2 years with 19th Support.

    For my 4th tour I was stationed in Ayers Kaserne – Kirchgoens Germany with Bravo Battery 2d Battalion, 3d Field Artillery (2/3 FA) that was part of the 3rd Armored Division. Are battery fired from 155mm self-propelled Howitzers, I also went to Iraq with them.

    I don’t want to get to far into it because I have a problem with PTSD and talking about it, but are orders were to destroy enemy forces. They put my battery up front to support 3/5 Cav. There was nothing in front of use but are fisters or spotters. What made me mad was that I was in a hemmet and before we went into combat are Battalion gave us orders to take out all the wind shields so that there would be no reflections off of them. My driver even took off the roof of the Hemmet so that he could stand up and fire. That time of the year saw a lot of rain.

    On are first attack all I say was A10 tank killers and Apache Helicopters directly over are heads and in front of us. They saved our lives. We received mortars and incoming. For a time we were so close to the enemy that we had to have other firing batteries fire over are heads. Maybe that is why I go into flash backs and freak out when I’m around fireworks.

    I also think that we were one of the first to reach the highway of death as it was called. I have had a lot more stressers as the VA would call them but I don’t like to get into them. I still believe that they put us up front is because we were nuclear capable special weapons and all.

    We were in Iraq for 6 months. Well as it goes after I got back from Iraq I became a alcoholic. My next duty station I got into trouble and was shipped off to El Paso, TX for alcohol treatment. I kept getting into trouble because I did not care about anything. I did receive a Bronze Star Medal for Iraq though.

    When the army started to down size I figured that I would be the first to go and I was right. Instead of kicking me out they let me out by what they called Force Reduction and gave me separation pay and an honorable discharge that made it my 5th one.

    In 2003, I received my first DUI after hitting 3 cars and going down a 40 foot embankment. Luck was going my way and no one was hurt. I then came up with a great idea and quit drinking and started ordering codeine online from overseas and at the same time going to school to become a Pharmacy Technician which as I look back was not such a great idea. I was getting most of my drugs from Spain and Romania, it would be delivered to my mail box. I was taking around 800mg a day.

    This had to stop or I was going to die so I called the VA after going through the worst withdrawals of all times at home. I made an appointment with the VA in Menlo Park, CA. The women I talked to said I had PTSD, so after going through two inpatient thirty day drug and alcohol programs they sent me to the National Center for PTSD as an inpatient.

    I was there for 72 days. It was very hard going through the trauma groups some people could not do it. I still have a lot of problems with depression, nightmares and most of the other things that go with PTSD. I got out of being an inpatient on 11/19/2004, and put in for PTSD disability on 11/30/2004.

    I had my compensation and pension meeting and came up with a 36 gaff score. I am now 100% service connected and receiving 100% disability and considered nonemployable, I am also receiving disability through Social Security after being denied it 2 times. On the 3rd time about 2 weeks before I went to court, I received my paper work through the VA approving my 100% disability. I mailed this to the Social Security Office. When the day came to go to court I did not get a lawyer and they granted me full disability. I stay home all the time on the computer or watching TV. I have a very hard time trusting people.


    Comment by Sunviper — December 25, 2017 @ 11:48 PM

  20. Sleeping cycles change were similar for me. No electronic media is used. During studies sleeping cycles change at normal time no change, early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy and wise.


    Comment by Syed yusuf — March 15, 2018 @ 9:16 AM

  21. The morning light came through my window at 7:15, give or take a minute. My alarm was set for 8:00. So I began going to bed 45 minutes earlier. Since the circadian cycles are about 90 minute cycles I have been trying to sleep 9 hours instead of 71/2 hours. Sleep preparation takes about 30 minutes. I turn off all electronics an soak my feet in warm water before bedtime. Somehow that starts my natural melatonin going. It was difficult from going to bed at 1:00 to 10:00, but worth it.


    Comment by Pat — March 21, 2018 @ 3:17 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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