Electroencephalography (EEG) in the Diagnosis of Sleep Disorders

Last updated: April 19, 2019

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

An Electroencephalography (EEG) is a test that can detect abnormalities in the brain waves or the electrical activity of the brain. This test uses electrodes made of small metal discs that get pasted on the scalp of the patient. These electrodes have wires connected to a computer. The electrodes then detect tiny electrical charges produced from the activity of the brain cells. These charges appear as a graph viewed on a computer screen. They are also printable so a patient can bring it to a healthcare provider for interpretation.

An EEG is useful in evaluating several types of brain disorders. For example, rapid spiking waves on an EEG may indicate the presence of epilepsy. On the other hand, a person with lesions on the brain may show unusually slow EEG waves.

EEG and sleep disorders

An EEG is also useful in diagnosing narcolepsy and insomnia. Doctors use EEG as part of a sleep study or polysomnography. During the said test, a patient stays overnight in a medical facility. While connected to an EEG, the sleep specialist monitors the stages of sleep of a patient. This is a non-invasive test and is safe even for children.

The EEG readings can give a doctor a clearer picture of a patient’s sleep patterns. Different brain activities correspond to different stages of sleep. In fact, the stages of sleep were first discovered via the use of EEG. This is why doctors also call Stage 3 of sleep as Delta Wave Sleep. Delta waves indicate the deepest levels of relaxation and restorative sleep. By monitoring a rise or decline in Delta waves and cross-checking it with other factors that occur at the same time, a doctor can pinpoint an external factor that is preventing a patient from getting deep sleep. A sleep specialist can then isolate the source of the sleep disorder and formulate a treatment plan.

The brain is an amazing organ. Through the use of an EEG, it is possible to record brain waves that indicate whether a person is sleeping well or not. This is why an EEG is a helpful tool not just in diagnosing a sleep disorder but in pinpointing the cause of the disorder. With the help of an EEG, a doctor can help a patient effectively deal with a sleep disorder through a well-thought-out treatment plan.

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

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