Sleep Deprived EEG
If you or your doctor thinks you might have a seizure disorder like epilepsy, you might need a specific test called Sleep Deprived EEG Test to determine whether or not this is the case. In some situations, an ordinary EEG test might be enough. An EEG stands for electroencephalogram.
What is an EEG Test
An EEG test is a test in which electrodes are placed on your scalp in a painless fashion. The electrodes record the tiny electrical signals given out by the brain on a continuous. The electrical signals are analyzed by a computer to see if there are specific abnormal spikes in the brain waves that show the presence of a source of seizure activity within your brain.
Sometimes, you will be lucky enough to have a seizure while you are hooked up to an EEG machine. A seizure shows up as a burst of erratic electrical activity within a portion of the brain.
How long does an EEG test take?
An EEG Test takes only about an hour and a half, it is not always possible to find abnormal signals during that time and different types of EEG testing may be warranted.
Types of EEG Test
One type of an EEG test is called a Sleep EEG Test. In this type of test, the electrodes are again placed on the scalp but you have the actual test only while you sleep. Some people only show abnormalities in the EEG patterns during sleep and a sleep EEG test will pick this up. During the test, you sleep at a sleep laboratory or hospital. You might be allowed to fall asleep on your own or the doctor may order a sleeping pill for you. It takes up to two hours to do this test and you can go home right after the test or when you awaken on your own the next morning.
Sleep deprived EEG Test
Perhaps one of the best tests is called a sleep deprived EEG test. It is similar to a standard EEG test in that you are hooked up to scalp electrodes that record your brain’s wave patterns. The difference between a standard EEG and a sleep-deprived EEG is that you will be asked not to sleep for a period of time before you have the test so that you are sleep-deprived. You can’t sleep before a sleep-deprived EEG test because when a person is sleep-deprived, it is more likely that they will show abnormal spikes indicating the presence of epilepsy.
The sleep deprived EEG brings about a state of sleepiness that can show whether or not there is epileptic activity in your brain. It may also precipitate seizure activity that can be picked up on a computer monitor showing you have epilepsy. Even if you don’t have a seizure during this test, it may reveal abnormal patterns of brain wave activity common in people who have a seizure disorder even when an actual seizure is not present.
What does a sleep deprived EEG show?
The sleep deprived EEG shows which areas of the brain are involved in seizure activity and may also be able to tell what type of seizure you have. There are different types of seizures, including absence seizures, generalized tonic-clonic seizures, and myoclonic seizures which have distinctive brain wave patterns. The test is limited in that it shows only brain wave activity and cannot tell you if you have suffered from any brain damage or injury in the past.
During the test, the doctors may ask you to breathe deeply for several minutes or to look at a strobe light, both of which can increase the odds that you will have seizure activity during the test. When you are sleep-deprived, you are more likely to have a seizure or show up areas of the brain that have abnormal brain waves indicating epilepsy.
Preparing for a Sleep-deprived EEG
There are some things you can do to prepare for a better EEG test. These include the following:
- Don’t wash your hair within 24 hours of the test as the electrodes stay on better when your scalp is oilier or dirtier.
- Eat something within four hours of having the test. It does not have to be a big meal; a snack will suffice in most cases.
- For adults, you should stay awake for an entire 24 hours before taking the test. This means getting up one morning and staying awake the whole next night, having the EEG test the following morning.
- You should not drink alcohol or consume caffeine after midnight in the hours prior to the test. This can adversely affect the results of the test.
- You should continue the taking of most or all of your medications as previously scheduled before taking the test. One exception is any medications you are taking for presumed seizures. These may have to be discontinued or taken at a lower dose so the medication doesn’t block seizure activity.
- You shouldn’t use any type of hair gel or hair spray prior to having the test as this can affect how the electrodes connect to the scalp.
- Children less than age 12 do not have to stay awake for a full twenty-four hours. Instead, they can sleep until midnight on the night just prior to the test but must be awakened at midnight in order to stay awake until a morning sleep deprived EEG can be done.
Other than the fact that you are very tired when you have a sleep deprived EEG, it is exactly a standard EEG that lasts between 1 ½ to 2 hours. Hopefully the sleep deprivation will provide the most accurate results as to whether or not you have been suffering from a seizure disorder.