Epilepsy and Night Shifts – How They Can Impact Seizures

12th October 2021

Many people work on shifts which involve them doing night shifts, working through the night when they would normally be sleeping. Whilst this may be acceptable for most of the population of night shift workers, this can be a problem for people with epilepsy as a major disruption to sleeping patterns can be responsible for an increase in seizure activity. 

Night shift work can majorly disrupt circadian rhythms and can lead to people with epilepsy experiencing more frequent seizures. It’s not advised that people with epilepsy undertake roles which will require them to work night shifts for this reason. 

“What if I’m already employed in a job that requires night shift work before being diagnosed?”

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are required by law to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so that a person with a disability, such as epilepsy, is not at a disadvantage. What this means is that, if possible, your employer should make adjustments to allow you to continue working without the need to do night shifts. 

Of course, there are some job roles where this might not be possible and therefore not considered “reasonable”, such as in cases where a job has to take place at night by necessity and can not be done during the day instead. 

“Can I apply for a job that requires night shift work?”

You can apply for jobs that require night shift work. This is also covered under the Equality Act 2010 and ensures that people with disabilities are not at a disadvantage when applying for jobs. Again, the success of your application may depend on how crucial night shift work is to the role you’re applying for. Potential employers are expected to make the same ‘reasonable adjustments’ for new employees as they are for existing employees. 

Of course, this is assessed on a case-by-case basis and your own particular situation may not be the same as someone else’s. If the night shift work is deemed crucial to the advertised role you may, unfortunately, be turned down on the basis of your epilepsy and the increased risk of seizures in an unsafe environment. 

“What is classed as a ‘reasonable adjustment’?”

There is no straight answer to this question, unfortunately. Reasonable adjustments depend entirely on the situation and is based on some guidelines which include: 

  • How practical the adjustment is to make 
  • How effective the adjustment would in helping the employee
  • How it could affect the company 
  • How it could affect other employees
  • How much it would cost to implement the adjustment 

It’s worth remembering that a person’s epilepsy can change over time so reasonable adjustments may need to be re-assessed as time goes on.

Want To Know More?

  • From time-to-time we would like to send you information about new training courses and our specialist professional services on email. We'll alway treat your details with the utmost care and in-line with our privacy policy. Please indicate your preferences below: