'Why I need a good night's sleep' 

Paul Clark, a father of two from Essex, developed epilepsy in his thirties. He was surprised to discover the likely cause.

"Discovering I had epilepsy at the age of 33 was a massive shock to the system and it has changed my life completely. It started when I returned to work after the Christmas break. I began collapsing without warning. I would start to feel really hot and just go down like a sack of potatoes. I would be out for up to a minute and wake up in a cold sweat feeling exhausted and really sick.

"This happened five times in two weeks and, even though I was checked out by ambulance staff, an A&E doctor and my GP, no one could identify what was causing it.

"Then I collapsed in a bar and cut my head quite badly. An ambulance took me to A&E and I had another seizure in front of a doctor. When I came round, she told me I was epileptic. I felt a mixture of relief and shock. It was serious but at least I knew what I was dealing with.

"The following day, I met an epilepsy nurse who explained that I would have to change my lifestyle. I had to surrender my driving licence and stop cycling and swimming. At home I had to avoid baths and stop carrying my new baby daughter, Safia, until the seizures were under control.

"The drugs are now working efficiently and I'm getting used to the fact that I can't do anything without thinking, ‘What if I have a seizure?’ It's impossible to know for sure what's behind it, but my three-year-old son, Sol, has never slept well and the long-term effects of sleep deprivation could be a factor. The doctors say that's the only reason that they can come up with, and apparently lack of sleep is a surprisingly common trigger. My poor partner, Michelle, has been brilliant. She now deals with the children on her own during the night because I need more rest."

Page last reviewed: 25/11/2014

Next review due: 25/07/2017