Sleep attacks due to excessive daytime sleepiness may result from a variety of causes. Intrinsic causes include narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia. Sleep disruption and chronic sleep deprivation from disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome also may produce sleep attacks. These sleep attacks may mimic epileptic seizures or the pseudoseizures characteristic of conversion disorders.59
A cardinal diagnostic feature of these sleep attacks is that they tend to occur in sedentary situations. Long-term video-EEG monitoring is sometimes necessary to exclude seizures. It typically documents drowsiness at the onset of the attack.
Reviewed and revised April 2004 by Steven C. Schachter, MD, epilepsy.com Editorial Board.
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