What is sleep-deprived EEG?

Sleep-deprived EEG testing is a specialised diagnostic procedure that evaluates the electrical activity of the brain after a period of sleep deprivation. This test can capture abnormal brain wave patterns that aid in the diagnosis and management of neurological conditions such as epilepsy.

By inducing sleep deprivation prior to the test, the chance of detecting abnormal electrical activity is increased. This means that it can identify changes that may have not been detected in routine EEG tests.


When will a sleep-deprived EEG be performed

Sleep-deprived EEG testing is typically performed in the following situations:

  • When there is a high suspicion of a seizure or epilepsy
  • When routine EEG testing conducted during wakeful periods have failed to reveal significant abnormalities
  • When routine EEG testing showed minor changes that were not diagnostic, or were inconclusive
sleep deprived eeg
A sleep-deprived EEG may be advised for patients with suspected seizures, including with atypical symptoms.

Risks of sleep-deprived EEG

While sleep-deprived EEG testing is generally considered safe, there are a few potential risks and considerations associated with the procedure:

  • Effects of sleep deprivation
  • Increased seizure risk
  • Discomfort or skin irritation
  • Potential for false-negative results

How is sleep-deprived EEG testing performed?

Before the test, patients are advised to restrict their sleep, ensuring they receive minimal sleep for a predetermined period. Typically patients should stay awake for 24 hours prior to their test. This usually means staying awake for one night, and having the EEG performed in the morning after being awake for 24 hours.

During the sleep-deprived EEG test, electrodes are attached to the patient’s scalp using a mild adhesive. These electrodes measure the electrical activity in different regions of the brain and transmit the information to a computer, which records and analyzes the data.

The test lasts approximately one hour and will be conducted while the person is in a drowsy or sleeping state.

How to prepare

To prepare for the testing, patients are advised to follow certain guidelines:

  • Consultation: Prior to the test, patients have a consultation with their healthcare provider to discuss the purpose and procedure of the test, as well as any specific instructions.
  • Sleep schedule: Patients are instructed to maintain a regular sleep schedule leading up to the test and to avoid excessive caffeine, alcohol or stimulant consumption.
  • Medications: Patients should inform their healthcare provider about any medications they are taking, as certain drugs may interfere with the test results.
  • On the day: Patients will be sleep deprived on the day of the testing. Therefore, it is recommended that they are accompanied to the appointment and do not drive themselves.

After the test

After the test, patients can resume their regular sleep patterns. The doctors will review the recorded brain wave patterns and interpret the results.


Sleep deprivation EEG interpretation

Interpreting a sleep deprivation EEG involves analyzing the recorded brain wave patterns during a state of sleep deprivation.

Neurologists and trained healthcare professionals review the EEG recordings, carefully observing normal patterns, and the specific characteristics and abnormalities in the brain wave activity.

They compare the findings to normal sleep patterns and known patterns associated with various neurological conditions.

During interpretation, the focus is on identifying any abnormal brain wave patterns, such as epileptic discharges, slow waves, or other anomalies that may indicate underlying neurological disorders.

The data is analysed by a specialist neurologist to look for normal and abnormal brain wave patterns. This analysis can take several days. To obtain the results of the test, you will need to make an appointment with the doctor who referred you.


Cost of Sleep-Deprived EEG Test

The cost of a sleep deprivation EEG test can vary depending on several factors, including the cause and severity of the sleep issue, and treatment.

It is recommended to contact CURA Medical Specialists directly to inquire about the cost of a sleep deprivation EEG test.

We can provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding pricing and any potential additional fees or insurance coverage considerations.

Contact us to book a consultation.

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Why Choose Us

Why choose CURA Medical Specialist

At CURA Medical Specialists, our team specialise in diagnosing and treating neurological disorders.

With a team of highly skilled healthcare professionals, we provide specialised care in fields such as neurology and sleep medicine. Their comprehensive range of services ensures that you can receive thorough diagnostic evaluations and tailored treatment plans all in one place.

Meet our friendly and professional team

Dr Hugh Stephen Winters

Dr. Hugh Stephen Winters

MBChB (Auckland) FRACP (Neurology) CCINR (Neurology)

Dr Hugh Stephen Winters stands out as an exceptionally skilled interventional neurologist, specializing in the use of minimally invasive techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke, idiopathic intracranial hypertension, and aneurysms.

Dr. Timothy Ang

MBBS, FRACP (Neurology), Head of Committee for CCINR

Dr Timothy Ang is a highly skilled interventional neurologist specializing in cutting-edge medical imaging for diagnosing and treating neurovascular and neurological diseases, including stroke, intracranial hypertension, headache, migraine and aneurysms.

Dr Timothy Ang


For more information please read our most frequently asked questions:

Many patients can fall asleep during the sleep deprived EEG recording. However, this can be helpful as it allows capturing information on brain wave patterns while you are awake, drowsy and asleep.

The amount of sleep deprivation required for an EEG can vary. It is typically recommended to restrict sleep for 24 hours or as instructed by the healthcare provider prior to the test, but this may vary based on individual circumstances.

A sleep-deprived EEG is not always required to diagnose epileptic seizures. While it can provide valuable insights, routine EEGs conducted during wakeful periods or other diagnostic methods can also contribute to the diagnosis of epileptic seizures based on the individual’s clinical presentation and history.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment. It is aimed at presenting a perspective only and is not a substitute for a prescription or clinical assessment. Anyone experiencing a medical condition should consult their doctor.

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