Epilepsy Center

What do epilepsy and sleep have in common? Quite a bit, and knowledge of this relationship dates to ancient times. Dr. Vimala Sravanthi Vajjala is a quadruple board-certified neurologist based at The Insomnia and Sleep Institute of Arizona who specializes in headaches, epilepsy, seizures, and sleep medicine. She evaluates and aids in managing patients suffering from epilepsy and seizures as well as headaches and migraines. Dr. Vajjala undertook her Neurology residency at Rutgers University and then went on to a fellowship in Clinical Neurophysiology/Epilepsy at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. Special interests of Dr. Vajjala includes epilepsy in women and autoimmune epilepsy. Epilepsy presents as a type of seizure, and around five million people around the globe are diagnosed with epilepsy every year.

There are billions of neurons in the brain that make and receive electrical impulses that keep them connected to one another. When a seizure occurs, there is a surge of abnormal electrical brain activity that causes various manifestations. Usually, such activity lasts just a few seconds or minutes.

Different presentations of seizures are informed by which part of the brain is affected. Epilepsy is an ailment where a person tends to have recurring seizures that are seemingly unprovoked. It is a chronic brain disease that can affect men and women of all ages, and it is estimated that around 50 million people worldwide struggle with this disorder—it is one of the most common neurological diseases. However, it is most common in young children and older adults. Typically, epilepsy is defined as having 2+ unprovoked seizures that are 24 hours apart. Those who have had one seizure experience a 60 percent increased risk of more seizures in the future.

Seizure Triggers

Everyone has unique seizure triggers. Some of the most common triggers include stress, strong emotions, fever, menstrual periods, flashing lights—and lack of sleep (insomnia). The connection between sleep and seizures is complex and therefore it is critical to treat both seizures and sleep disorders. However, in the case of epilepsy, the cause(s) are not always clear. In fact, 60 percent of people diagnosed with epilepsy have normal test results and no obvious recurring triggers. Thus, epilepsy is diagnosed via history and testing is usually recommended in order to rule out other causes of seizures. These tests may include blood work to check liver function, drug levels and glucose, a lumbar puncture and spinal fluid testing, an EEG to check the brain’s electrical activity, and brain imaging such as an MRI to look for underlying issues.

Even though epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder, circa 70 percent of those with epilepsy could be seizure-free with the right diagnosis and treatment. Considering that those with epilepsy are three times more likely to experience premature death, it is critical to get both the right diagnosis and treatment for epilepsy and seizures. How epilepsy informs sleep quality, and vice versa, is one critical component of this disease.

By Anonymous -

“Working with the team at the institute and especially working with Dr. Krietsch has been an absolutely amazing life-changing experience. If someone had told me I’d be sleeping through the night AND getting up at 5:30 am every morning a few months ago… I would have told them they were crazy. My life is 100% better, I am keeping the institutes cards on hand and have handed them out to people who say they have insomnia.”

By Dena Deal -

“Professional and efficient from my first call to schedule and all the way to the end of my first appointment. Each office member you come in contact with will be courteous and kind. It didn’t take long to go back and see the doctor. Dr. Ramalingam was so thorough and calming. I highly recommend this caring office.”

By Angela Zavala -

“I had the best experience at The Insomnia and Sleep and Sleep Institute. The technicians are very friendly. I was very nervous and the technician was very patient and explained everything to me. She communicated to me every step of the way. Made feel at ease. I recommend this place.”

By Gail Wiens -

“I had the best experience at The Insomnia and Sleep and Sleep Institute. The technicians are very friendly. I was very nervous and the technician was vI love the people at this office! Everyone from Dr. Patel, the sleep study technician, the respiratory therapist, the lady from billing, and the office staff were all nice, helpful and pleasant. They took time to explain the results from the sleep study, which was very helpful.”

By William Riley -

“The staff is friendly and patient oriented. They seem interested in helping to overcome obstacles when they come up. There is a patient portal and all questions of mine have been answered quickly. The doctor is friendly, attentive, on time, and seems both up to date and knowledgeable in his field. This is, frankly, one of the few places I often contact about which I have no complaints. I’m happy to recommend this facility enthusiastically.”

By Anonymous -

“I have too much experience with sleep clinics so it’s easy for me to rate the clinic. Dr. Gunn is an excellent sleep doctor. The facility is clean, the rooms are spartan with a comfortable bed which it conducive for sleeping. My tech was Brandon and he was professional and a pleasure to work with. I strongly recommend this sleep clinic.”

By Anonymous -

“A great doctor. My long-term doctor had retired. I was referred to Dr. Patel. I was exceptionally pleased. He gave me a couple of pointers and even though I was doing well things got better. I will see him annually for sure.”

Epilepsy and Seizure Treatment Options

There are various treatments available for epilepsy and seizures, including anti-seizure, anti-epileptic, and anti-convulsant medications. These are typically the first line of therapy and are often prescribed following a second unprovoked seizure. However, in some cases medications may be prescribed after the first episode in order to decrease the likelihood of future, recurring seizures. Such medications work for many people, but in some cases these medications fail or are ineffective. The Epilepsy Center will also be performing routine in-office EEG testing as well as extended EEG testing in our new outpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) where we will be able to monitor patients for up to 4 days continuously. Other options are available, particularly if the patient also presents with sleep disorders.

Seizures and sleep disorders are common co-morbidities. If a patient is being triggered into seizures by a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea, managing the sleep disorder may in turn help manage the seizures. This is why The Insomnia and Sleep Institute specializes in various common co-morbidities including sleep disorders, headaches/migraines, and neurological disorders like seizures. Taking a holistic approach to your health is always the best, safest, and quickest means of improving your quality of life. Seizures are life-threatening conditions and are especially dangerous in environments such as driving and cooking. Getting control over your seizures with the help of a board-certified professional is paramount to your safety.

To learn more about the association between epilepsy/seizures and sleep, get in touch with The Insomnia and Sleep Institute today. Here, neurologist Dr. Vimala Sravanthi Vajjala works specifically with patients struggling with seizures (as well as headaches and migraines) in order to help them manage the disease while improving their safety and quality of life. Contact the clinic today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Vajjala.