Suffering from epilepsy and sleeping on your stomach should be avoided at any costs, otherwise it can be fatal, study shows.
A study found, that people suffering from epilepsy should avoid sleeping on their stomachs. Sleeping in this position is significantly increasing the risk for sudden death, especially when it comes to younger people with the ages under 40 years old, said leader of study and professor of neurology at University of Chicago, doctor James Tao.
When it comes to epilepsy patients, slight disruptions of the electrical activity in the brain, can cause repeated seizures, stated the Epilepsy Foundation. Scientists haven’t yet been able to perfect why this certain position increases the risk of unexpected death, but experts have made a parallel with the sudden infant death syndrome.
The medical world believes that the sudden infant death syndrome, occurs when babies cannot wake up from their sleep if their breathing is interrupted. Doctor James Tao, assumed that the same thing could happen to epilepsy patients sleeping on their stomachs. People sleeping in this specific position, might have an air blockage and not be able to get up.
In order to arrive to a conclusion, doctor Tao and his team studied 25 previous published studies that were giving details on 253 sudden, unexplained deaths in patients. The information in the notes were also mentioning the position of the body and time of death.
According to those notes, 73% of the patients had died while they were sleeping on their stomachs. Observing a group of 88 cases, showed that the epilepsy patients with ages under 40 years old, had increased chances of dying while sleeping on their stomachs, than the older patients. From a mathematic point of view, 86% of those younger than 40 have been found dead while sleeping on their stomach, compared to the 60% of the patients with ages over 40.
Researchers haven’t been able to establish for sure, what exactly was causing sudden death in younger patients more than the older ones. One theory would lead to the fact, that younger people are more likely to be single and not having a partner who could wake them up during their seizures, stated doctor Tao.
Doctor Tao, whished to stress on the fact that they have only found an association between sleeping on the stomach and sudden death, but this doesn’t prove that this sleep position can be lethal, and that it shouldn’t be considered a cause and effect.
Epilepsy is a very common disease, and affects around 50 million people all around the world. Scientists believe that it is most likely that around 0.3% of them to die suddenly, and 70% out of the ones who die suddenly (0.3%) would die in their sleep.
Experts advise those who suffer from epilepsy to try sleeping on their back and ask their wife/husband/ partner to always remind them this. Devices, like bed alarms, wrist watches specially designed to detect seizures during sleep would also help a lot in preventing sudden death.
A trick given by doctor Tao, was to wear a t-shirt with a small chest pocket and put inside a tennis ball before going to bed. In this case, if you would role on your chest you would wake up.
Image Source: Injury and Trauma Clinic