— Not actual patients

Lifestyle and Epilepsy

If you’re living with epilepsy, you may not realize how your daily habits can impact your symptoms. See how sleep, diet, and stress may be impacting you. 

If you’re living with epilepsy, you may not realize how much your daily habits can impact your symptoms. In fact, numerous studies have shown that epilepsy can be triggered by lack of sleep, poor diet, alcohol consumption, or high stress levels.1 However, this also means that you can work on managing your seizures by improving these areas. Keep in mind that each person’s epilepsy is different and may not be triggered by any of these factors. Tracking your seizures is a great way to determine what activities may be triggers for you.2


Sleep is an important way that your body and mind rest and recover, especially if you suffer from epilepsy. Aiming for 8 hours of sleep each night is a great goal. If you struggle to fall, or stay, asleep at night, here are a few tips you can use to help get a better night’s sleep:3,4

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. This routine helps your body know when it should be getting ready for sleep.
  • Avoid screens for at least an hour before bed. The blue light from a screen can mimic light from the sun, making our brains think that it’s still daytime, not bedtime.
  • Regular exercise can help you fall, and stay, asleep.
  • Reducing stress and winding down before bed may help you fall asleep. Try creating a bed-time routine to help yourself wind down, or work on reducing your stress in other ways. 

Some anti-seizure medications may also disrupt your sleep patterns. If you’re struggling to get good-quality sleep after implementing these changes, talk to your neurologist or epileptologist about other options.3

Diet and alcohol

Eating a well-balanced diet can impact your health dramatically. A healthy diet can lead to better sleep, lower levels of stress, and overall a general feeling of well-being. The Epilepsy Foundation suggests eliminating or limiting refined sugars and eating whole foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains that have little to no processing.5 For some people, very specific diets, such as the ketogenic diet, have been successful in treating their epilepsy.

Drinking alcohol in limited quantities – 1 or 2 drinks now and then – has not been shown to cause seizures in most people. However, some people may be more likely to experience a seizure in the day or two after heavy drinking.6


Stress is our body’s response to a change in our environment that may be seen as threatening or problematic. When we experience stress, our brains release certain chemicals that are meant to help us deal with the source of our stress. However, these chemicals can also trigger seizures in certain people.7

There are many different ways you can work on reducing your stress. A few examples may include:7

  • Regular exercise can help our bodies release stress and tension. Try to find an exercise habit that you enjoy, whether it be a team sport, walking, or an exercise class, and exercise regularly.
  • Spending time outdoors has also been shown to reduce stress levels and help calm our bodies.8
  • Practicing mindfulness, such as meditation or yoga, or doing breathing exercises can help lower stress.9
  • Give yourself time to take breaks and relax. Humans are not robots, and we are not meant to always be productive.
  • Get help from a doctor or therapist if you feel it will benefit you. 
Please let us know how useful this article was to you

Thank you for rating this article.

  1. Shafer, P. (2017, Aug 29). Diet & Exercise. Epilepsy Foundation. https://www.epilepsy.com/living-epilepsy/healthy-living
  2. Shafer, P., et al. (2013, Aug 11). Using Seizure Diaries. Epilepsy Foundation. https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/managing-your-epilepsy/tracking-my-seizures/using-seizure-diaries
  3. Hollingsworth, P. and Vosburgh, S. (2018, Jan 5). Sleep and Epilepsy. Epilepsy Foundation. https://www.epilepsy.com/living-epilepsy/healthy-living/sleep-and-wellness
  4. (2022, May 7). Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379
  5. (2022, Feb 4). Nutrition and Seizure Control. Epilepsy Foundation. https://www.epilepsy.com/living-epilepsy/healthy-living/healthy-eating/nutrition-and-seizure-control
  6. Schachter, S. (2022). Alcohol as a Seizure Trigger. Epilepsy Foundaton. https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/triggers-seizures/alcohol
  7. Privitera, M. (2022). Stress and Epilepsy. Epilepsy Foundation. https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/triggers-seizures/stress-and-epilepsy
  8. (2020, Feb 27). How Being Outdoors and Getting Active Impacts Stress Management. The  American Institute of Stress. https://www.stress.org/how-being-outdoors-and-getting-active-impacts-stress-management
  9. (2020, Sep 15). Mindfulness exercises. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356

Content reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Jiyeoun Yoo, MD, FAES, FACNS 

Here's more you can do

Share Your Story

People like you need to hear that they're not alone. Your story can make a difference in their life.
I Want to Share My Story

Be Informed. Be Prepared!

Sign up for personalized article recommendations in your email.
Get Updates

About Us

Learn more about who we are and our mission of helping patients find balance in their lives.
About Us

Find a Doctor

Search by speciality, location and more. Find the right provider for you.
Find a Doctor