Child PAU Sleep Electroencephalogram (EEG)

  • Reference Number: HEY-794/2017
  • Departments: Neurophysiology


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your child’s procedure.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your child’s doctor, but may act as a starting point for discussion.  If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for your child.

What is a Sleep EEG and why does my child need one?

EEG is the abbreviation of electroencephalogram, which is the recording of electrical activity produced by the brain.  It can help to explain fits or seizures and is a tool to help your doctor in making a diagnosis.  The activity is recorded on a computer and a video recording is made at the same time.  Your child will be given a dose of mild sedative to help them fall asleep.  A sleep study is usually performed for one of three reasons:

  • Following a routine EEG, your child’s consultant may wish to have a longer recording, including a period of sleep which may be helpful in making/confirming your child’s diagnosis.
  • Your child may be too young to co-operate for a routine EEG recording and doing this during sleep will be less distressing for your child.
  • Occasionally, particularly if your child’s seizures only occur in sleep, this may be the first EEG recording your child has.

Can there be any complications or risks?

Very occasionally children may experience a slight local reaction at the electrode site. This may cause reddening and soreness. These symptoms resolve quickly on removal of the electrodes. If your child experiences these symptoms please inform the staff attending to your child.

How do I prepare my child for the PAU sleep EEG?

Please read the information leaflet and share with your child if you feel this is appropriate.  Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support.  There may be information they need to know, especially if they are taking care of your child during/following this examination.

If your child suffers from any allergies please let us know as soon as possible.

The night before the test please try to reduce your child’s sleep by keeping them up later and waking them earlier than usual. For 24 hours prior to the test please prevent your child drinking tea, coffee or any beverages containing caffeine (eg fizzy drinks).  Apart from this please let them eat and drink as normal, until the morning of the appointment.

On the morning of your child’s appointment they must not have anything to eat after 4am, or anything to drink after 6am. Please wash your child’s hair before you come to the hospital and do not use any hair products (gel, hairspray etc). Give your child their medication as normal unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Please bring a list of any current medication your child is taking with you. Please bring any favorite toy or comforter that may help your child sleep.

What will happen?

On your arrival in the Paediatric Assessment Unit (as per the time on your appointment letter) the nurse that is looking after your child will introduce themselves and show you and your child to your room.  Some personal details will be taken and recorded on the admission sheet. The nurse will then record some observations on your child including temperature, pulse, respirations, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels.  These are all painless to your child.  Your child will need to be weighed in order that the correct dosage of medication can be given. A name bracelet will be placed on your child’s wrist or ankle.

Shortly after arriving on the ward your child’s nurse will bring the medicine that your child needs to take to help them to sleep.  This may not taste very nice but the child can be offered a small sip of juice if needed to take away the taste. Depending on your child’s age they may be given a second dose of a different medication about half an hour afterwards. Once your child is asleep the EEG can be performed.  This involves the physiologists from the Neurophysiology Department applying several small electrodes to your child’s head with some sticky paste.  Following this your child’s EEG will be recorded for about 30 minutes, after which if your child is still asleep an attempt will be made to wake them up before the test is finished. Once your child is asleep the whole procedure may take up to an hour.

What happens afterwards?

  • The electrodes will be removed and your child’s head will be cleaned with warm water. You may wish to bring a brush or comb with you to tidy their hair. Any residue of paste can be removed by shampooing the hair at home.
  • Your child may still feel tired or drowsy following the test due to a combination of lack of sleep and the effects of sedation. They will be offered a piece of toast (if appropriate) and a drink and the nurse will check that your child is ok to go home before they are or can be discharged from the ward.
  • Once your child has left the ward the recording will be reviewed by the Clinical Physiologist and then by a member of the medical team who will send a report to the doctor who referred your child for the sleep EEG. This usually takes up to two weeks.

Should you require further advice on the issues contained in this leaflet, please do not hesitate to contact the Neurophysiology Department on: Tel: (01482) 675339/675388

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats your child, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to your child. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your child’s condition, the alternatives available for your child, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about your child

We collect and use your child’s information to provide your child with care and treatment. As part of your child’s care, information about your child will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your child’s information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide your child with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your child’s doctor, or the person caring for your child.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about your child. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you need information about your child’s (or a child you care for) health and wellbeing and their care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.