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EEG – Sleep Deprived

Updated 23 February 2021

EEG following sleep deprivation is sometimes used where a routine EEG has not completely answered the clinical question. However, it can lower seizure threshold in patients with certain epilepsy syndromes and for this reason it has largely been replaced by ambulatory EEG in this department. Sometimes sleep deprived EEG may be arranged on an individual basis if a referring clinician feels the investigation would be useful. Due to mildly increased risk of seizure we always obtain prior written consent and the patient must have had an up-to-date routine EEG within the previous 12 months.

Preparation involves staying awake some, or all, of the night before without the aid of stimulants such as caffeine. The patient should allow extra time for a sleep deprived EEG and can expect to be in the department at least an hour and a half. The recording is carried out similarly to a routine EEG but the patient tries to sleep during the test. Activation is only carried out at the physiologist’s discretion.

For children, we ask that the child is kept up as late as possible the night before and woken very early on the morning of the test. The child should be given a busy morning and a good lunch. Daytime naps are best avoided, including in the car on the way to hospital. A comforter is useful if the child likes one. We provide a quiet, comfortable and restful environment for the child to try to relax and sleep. However please do remember that despite our best efforts some children just cannot sleep in a different place and may not be able to fall asleep during the test. It is not really advisable to have little brothers or sisters in the room as we need the room to be quiet and peaceful.

Safety advice

Tiredness and driving should not be combined. If you are driving your child to their test, your sleep may also be disrupted while keeping the child awake so think carefully about the arrangements you make to get to and from the hospital. This caution also applies if you have an escort coming with you, whose sleep might also have been disrupted the night before.