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Paediatric Sleep deprived and Melatonin EEG

What is a Sleep EEG with sedation?

EEG is the abbreviation of electroencephalogram, which is the recording of electrical activity produced by the brain.  It can help the doctor to make a diagnosis.   A sleep EEG is done to enable more information to be obtained than would be from a routine EEG, as brainwave patterns change during sleep and tiredness.  Occasionally medication is given to assist your child to fall asleep.  This medication is called Melatonin and will be prescribed to you by the doctor who has referred your child for the test.  This medication must be brought to the department.  Please do not give the medication whilst at home.

How is it performed?

The appointment will take approximately two and a half hours.  The physiologist will measure your child’s head.  A minimum of 23 leads are then attached to the scalp, next to the eyes, on the shoulders and under the chin using a sticky paste.  Once the leads are in place a bandage will be wrapped around your child’s head to secure the discs.  It will take approximately 20-25 minutes to attach all the leads.  Your child will not feel anything whilst the EEG is being recorded.  A digital video recording will be made during the test to enable to the doctor to compare your child’s brainwaves with his/her movements and behaviour at the time.   The recording takes up to 60 minutes.  The lights will be dimmed and your child will be asked to lie down on a bed.  Very young children will be able to stay on the knee of a parent. 

How do I prepare for the test?

Your child needs to be sleepy for the test, so we ask that the night before the test your child only has HALF THE USUAL AMOUNT OF SLEEP.  For example, if he/she normally sleeps for 12 hours, this should be reduced to 6 hours sleep if possible.  This is probably best achieved by keeping to the normal bed time and getting your child up early so he/she has been awake for a number of hours before the appointment.

Please ensure your child’s hair is clean and free from hairspray and oil.

Please ensure your child is wearing loose fitting, comfortable clothes.

It is helpful if your child has a good meal prior to the test.   

If your child is taking medication please continue to give it to them and bring a list of the medication with you.

Your child may eat normally prior to the test.

There are no side effects from the test.

Please do not allow your child to have a drink containing caffeine on the day of the test .  This includes cola, tea and coffee. 

What should you bring to the appointment?

Your doctor will have prescribed a medication for your child called Melatonin.  This is a medication which will help your child to sleep.  Please bring this medication to the departmentPlease DO NOT give the medication whilst you are at home.  The physiologist will arrange for the medication to be given to your child when you arrive. The Melatonin may be in syrup or capsule form. If you have been given a capsule it can be broken and the contents mixed in a small amount of water/juice, or yoghurt to give to your child, so please bring along a drink that your child likes or a small pot of yoghurt.

If your child likes a drink of milk or a dummy when going to sleep, please bring these with you.

It would be helpful to bring along any other items you think might encourage your child to sleep, such as a special blanket, cuddly toy or perhaps a favourite night time story book. We have a CD player, so if your child listens to a particular bedtime CD you can bring that along too.

It is very important that you try to keep your child awake on your way to the hospital.

Are there any risks?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone which is produced inside the brain.  It is produced at night time to prepare the body for sleep.  You have been given a manmade version of this hormone which is generally well tolerated and at such a low dose side effects are extremely unlikely.

The effect of Melatonin usually lasts for about 2-4 hours, but occasionally children can be sleepy for longer, so you need to be prepared for this with respect to childcare after the appointment.

On rare occasions sleep deprivation can make some people’s attacks more frequent. 

If you have any questions regarding Melatonin or sleep deprivation, please speak to the doctor who referred your child for the test.

How long will I have to wait?

You have been given a specific appointment time and patients are usually seen on time.  It is important that you arrive on time.  Please allow plenty of time for parking.

When will I get the results?

The results are sent to the doctor that referred you for the test and are usually available within seven days.

If you have any concerns or questions please speak to a Clinical Physiologist on the number below.


Neurophysiology Department   01422 222976