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My wife has episodes where she is awake...but not awake
Anon_60665 posted:
Once or twice a year, my wife will have episodes in the middle of the night that can best be described as being awake, but not awake. Her eyes will be fully wide open. She usually starts by repeating "hmm" and smacking her lips. Then she may go into an episode of repeating a phrase over and over for a few minutes. All the wile she will not respond to anything I say. This last time, towards the end of her episode, I somewhat got her to respond. I would ask her her name, and she made a funny face (almost like she was a little girl) but still not responding vocally. If I offer my hand, she will hold it tightly, like there is some part of her trying to hold onto reality. When my wife finally comes to, she only has a recollection of feeling funny, and usually has a splitting headache. Fortunately, during these nighttime episodes she never tries to get up out of bed, so she has not proven to be a danger to herself or others.

This all started about three years ago, when she had one of these episodes in the car, resulting in running into a tree. It was certainly frightening for me, as she was not responding to anything I was saying as she headed straight for the tree. Since then, this only happens in the middle of the night, and all but one time, around the anniversary of the very first episode. She is under the care of a neurologist, who has her on two anti-seizure meds. This last time, I had the presence of mind to video part of the "episode" because I don't think he has ever fully understood what she goes through.

My wife and I are completely confounded, and desperately looking for answers. Is this some form of sleep paralysis? Would it be considered a form of a seizure?
jordy2 responded:
At first I was thinking hypnagogic jerks (the feeling of an involuntary myoclonic twitch that happens just as we're beginning to fall asleep) but I don't think that would explain all the behavior. If it is sleep paralysis it is a form that I have never even read about before — here is hoping that someone else has the answer.
atti_editor responded:

While I don't really have any insight on what could be causing your wife's sleep episodes, I do agree with jordy2 in that if it is sleep paralysis it does not follow the normal pattern of symptoms -- usually people experiencing sleep paralysis have a feeling of being conscious, they are just unable to move, whereas you said that your wife doesn't really have a recollection of the event.

I think that it was a great idea to video one of her episodes to show to her neurologist. It will give him/her a visual reference and may help in diagnosis. There are some seizures classified as 'nocturnal seizures' that happen primarily during sleep. Have you talked with the neurologist about seizures?

Best wishes,

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