• levetiracetam;
  • partial epilepsy;
  • sleep


Levetiracetam is a novel antiepileptic drug which has recently been released as an adjunctive treatment for partial epilepsy. In the two studies reported here we examined the objective and subjective effects of levetiracetam on sleep in 12 healthy volunteers and 17 patients [16 who could be evaluated for electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings] with a history of partial epilepsy on stable carbamazepine monotherapy. The studies were of a similar double-blind crossover placebo-controlled design with subjects' sleep being recorded in their own homes. The results from the two studies showed considerable similarities. In both, levetiracetam produced an increase in the time spent in stage 2 sleep, which in the patient study was accompanied by a decrease in the time spent in stage 4 sleep and in the volunteer study an increase in rapid eye movement (REM) latency. The subjective changes included reports that sleep was of a better quality with fewer awakenings and patients also reported that their sleep was more restful. Volunteers and patients did, however, feel less alert on waking in the morning. Therefore, both groups reported a decrease in awakenings after levetiracetam despite the finding from the EEG of no change in the actual number of awakenings. It may be concluded from both studies that levetiracetam does affect some indicators of subjective sleep perception, but does not influence objective sleep measures of sleep continuity. The results from the patient study during placebo add-on treatment also showed that patients on carbamazepine had a marked increase in SWS, an increase in stage 2 sleep and an increase in REM latency compared with healthy volunteers. Interestingly, levetiracetam also reduced bilateral epileptiform EEG activity, particularly in patients with more discharges.