The impact of sleep disruption on neurocognitive functioning in children with epilepsy

Kelly Coulehan, Fordham University


Background: Disruptions in sleep patterns, sleep hygiene, and sleep architecture can trigger seizures and in turn, seizure activity can disrupt sleep. Despite this, little is known regarding how this relationship impacts neurocognitive functioning in childhood epilepsy. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the association between reported sleep disruption behaviors and neurocognitive performance in a sample of children with epilepsy. Methods: This study included an archival sample of 70 children and adolescents with epilepsy, consecutively referred for clinical neurocognitive evaluation at the Comprehensive Epilepsy and Neurology Center (CENC) at New York University Langone Medical Center. Children underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation and parents completed the Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire (CSHQ) along with mood and behavioral inventories. Results: CSHQ Sleep Anxiety (r = .25, p = .04) was significantly associated with behavioral ratings of executive functioning. CSHQ Parasomnias and Sleep Disordered Breathing was significantly negatively associated with Digit Span Backwards (r = -.27, p = .03; r = -.30, p = .01, respectively). CSHQ Sleep Disordered Breathing was also significantly associated with TOL-DX Total Time (r = -.30, p = .01). CSHQ Total served as a significant predictor for Trails B (β = -.78, z = -2.13, p = .03) and behavioral ratings of executive functioning. Conclusion: Regarding seizure severity characteristics, it was found that seizure type and seizure frequency were not significantly related to neurocognitive or behavioral outcomes. However, age of seizure onset was predictive of sustained attentional abilities. There emerged a clear pattern of frontally-mediated deficits associated with sleep disruption and seizure severity. Age of onset and sleep disruptions independently contributed to poorer neurocognitive outcomes.

Subject Area

Neurosciences|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Coulehan, Kelly, "The impact of sleep disruption on neurocognitive functioning in children with epilepsy" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10182721.