To assess physical activity and sleep rates in a cohort of children with epilepsy (CWE) and determine if there is a relationship between physical activity and sleep time.
Children aged 8–14 years with a diagnosis of epilepsy and at least one seizure in the past 12 months were monitored via a wrist-worn activity tracker for 16 weeks, to objectively measure daily physical activity, as assessed by step counts, and sleep time. Adherence to physical activity (≥12,000 steps/day) and sleep recommendations (≥9 h for children aged 8–12 years, or ≥8 h for children aged 13–15 years) was determined. To predict daily activity or nightly sleep, a series of multivariable models incorporating age, sex, day-type (all combinations of weekday or weekend and summer holiday or school), participant (as a random effect), daily physical activity (for models predicting sleep), nightly sleep (for models predicting physical activity), and autoregressive terms of previous sleep or physical activity were constructed, and the best-performing models were selected with Akaike information criterion analysis.
Twenty-two children with mild to moderate epilepsy were recruited (54.5% female, median (IQR) age 11 (10, 13) years) and monitored for 16 weeks. They met the recommended level of physical activity only in 38.0% (21.7%, 59.4%), and sleep in 49.1% (30.0%, 68.5%) of days. They met both physical activity and sleep guidelines on the same day in only 17.8% (95% CI 7.1%, 38.0%). There was no association between meeting the recommended levels of daily physical activity and sleep time ( p = 0.86, ρ = 0.03). In the best-performing model, age, sex, day type, and participant explained 28.9% of the variance in daily physical activity, with no additional insight provided by measures of sleep time. Age, sex, day type, participant, and daily physical activity explained 17.3% of the variance in nightly sleep time, with a statistically discernable but small association between physical activity and sleep time (1.79 ± 0.53, p = 0.001).
Our cohort of children with mild to moderate epilepsy showed poor adherence to sleep and physical activity guidelines. There was no clinically relevant association between daily physical activity and sleep among these children who were similarly active to healthy peers. Future studies should assess the effect of increased sleep hygiene and physical activity on overall well-being and seizure control in CWE.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute
Investigator, CHEO Research Institute