How to Prepare for a Sleep Deprived EEG

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When a person is being assessed for a possible neurological condition, like a seizure disorder, an electroencephalogram (EEG) is often ordered. There are several different types of EEGs including short 30-minute EEGs or hospital-supervised extended-stay EEGs. One common type of outpatient EEG that is administered on children is a sleep deprived EEG. The doctor’s orders may vary from keeping the child up from 2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m. on the day of the EEG to not allowing the child any sleep the night before.

Things You'll Need

  • Child’s favorite snacks
  • Child’s favorite movies
  • Child’s favorite toy
  • Pen and paper
  • Verify with the child’s neurologist exactly how much sleep deprivation is required. Once you know what time to wake your child up (if you are allowed to let them sleep at all), then you can better prepare for the task ahead of you.

  • Explain to the child that tonight is going to be a special night and that they will get to stay up and play with you as well as play their favorite games and partake in special treats.

  • Create a countdown on paper that you and your child can mark off as each hour of the night passes. Start the countdown with the child’s usual bedtime and end it with the time you will be leaving your house to go to the EEG appointment.

  • Start the evening out with your child’s favorite movie. Plan a special snack during this time. The movie time will be relaxing for you and give you a bit of a break to prepare for the long night ahead.

  • Remind your child that even though they may get sleepy, they have a goal of staying up all night long and show them the countdown. If the child starts to get a bit sleepy, encourage them to do some jumping jacks or somersaults. Light physical activity will give them an energy boost to get them through the sleepy patch.

  • Spend time with your child baking a special treat. If you spend 20 minutes making homemade cookies and then another 30 minutes watching them bake, you’ve shaved off nearly an hour of your night.

  • Feed the child a healthy breakfast as dawn starts to break. This is usually when the body gets most tired. By refueling the body, your child will have the energy she needs to get through the early morning hours.

  • Bring your child’s favorite toy with you on the ride to the hospital. Parents often find that the most difficult time of the entire night is the drive to the hospital when the car’s motion lulls the child off to sleep.

  • Reassure your child once you arrive at the hospital that soon they will be able to drift off to sleep. After your child is at the hospital, all of the new activity will likely keep them awake until it is time to sleep during the EEG.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have a spouse or another adult who can stay up with your child during the night, the whole process will be easier. You and the other adult can take sleep shifts to ensure that you’re rested enough to keep the child entertained.

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