What is sleep deprivation?
Studies prove that six to seven hours of sleep in a day is required by an average adult for normal health and daytime functioning. But if due to certain factors, a person is not able to get this minimum amount of sleep, then he or she is suffering from sleep deprivation.
Every one out of three adults, especially women, is suffering from this hazardous condition. Sleep deprivation can be acute or chronic depending upon the time period and severity of the condition.
If a person is having no sleep or sleeping for lesser number of hours for two or three days, then this condition is termed as acute sleep deprivation.
While chronic sleep deprivation, also termed as sleep restriction, occurs when routine sleep in less than optimum.
Insufficient amount of sleep has various adverse effects of both mental and physical activities of an individual. Lack of alertness during daytime, indigestion, weight gain or loss, depression, hypertension, stress etc. are few to name which can further deteriorates normal well being.
Sleep deprivation also hampers the reaction time of a person because of which chances of road accidents might increase. Another aspect of life which is affected by this sleeping disorder is cognition.
Cognition means how we think and make decision, process information and retain memories in our mind and lack of proper and adequate sleep affects it badly.
Noisy and uncomfortable sleeping surroundings, bad and unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity and stress contribute towards sleep deprivation, worsening its effects further.
Brain is a vital organ of our body which controls the functioning of other parts along with our emotions and thoughts.
If you are not sleeping well, then your mind gets tired and loses its pace of working and ultimately leads to disastrous results.
There are a number of measures and remedies that can be taken for getting rid of sleep deprivation.
Over the counter medicines and various stress-reducing measures like yoga, meditation or exercise can help a person bring his body clock to normal.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle and sleeping in a sleep-inducing environment can help a sleep deprived person sleep well.
But before taking any medication, it is necessary to know the root cause of the problem and how it affects the normal activities, both mental and physical.
For the purpose of diagnosing sleep deprivation in a person, EEG test is performed. Your doctor will suggest you this test before writing any medication, so first let us know what is EEG.
What is EEG test?
EEG is a medical acronym for electroencephalogram which is a non invasive test used to record the patterns of electrical activities inside the brain.
Certain conditions like head injuries, brain tumors, epilepsy, seizures, even conforming brain death can be diagnosed with the help of EEG test.
This test is also helpful in sleep deprived study to understand the brain patterns while a person is asleep and diagnose the problem.
For sleep problems, this test is taken for a long period of time which helps in learning more about the brain health.
A certified technician or a neurologist can perform this test in a doctor’s clinic, especially design for this purpose or a hospital.
There are kinds of EEG which can be performed at home about which you will read in the following article.
How EEG works?
There are billions of nerve cells present inside human brain which produce tiny electrical signals in the form of different wave patterns called brain waves.
The EEG records the pattern of these brain waves and any abnormality helps in diagnosis of a problem. Several small electrodes are placed on your head during the EEG, which detect the brain waves from your brain.
An EEG machine then amplifies these electrical signals and records then in the form of graphs or wave patterns on computer screen or paper.
EEG can be conducted in the following three ways:
Standard EEG– It is a simple EEG test done for sleep deprived patients and usually lasts for an hour, though it might take 2-3 hours.
You need to have only 4 hours or less sleep and follow certain food and medication guidelines before this test. Any abnormal brain wave activity which appears due to fatigue or stress will be records for further examination of the problem.
Ambulatory EEG– It is a long EEG process where you need to wear a portable EEG recorder belt around your waist for days. A diary helps you to keep a track of your daily activities and medication.
Once the test is complete and data is recorded, your doctor will study the results and your activities to find the root cause of the problem. For this test you needed not go to hospital, but can be done at home.
Video EEG– It involves the use of a video camera along with EEG in order to monitor your physical behavior while your EEG is taken.
Video EEG is usually taken in specialized centers for sleep disorder patients where a combines set up for EEG and video cameras is done. All the records and test results are kept confidential.
Preparation for the test
Before you go for an EEG, make sure you follow the given guidelines.
For sleep deprived patients, it is necessary that they have sleep for half the normal sleeping hours before the test. This is because during the test sleep is must for gathering the brain waves and detecting any kind of abnormality.
Also do not take a nap otherwise you will have hard time falling asleep during the test. Do not take any medication to induce sleep as this will affect your health and test results.
Clean your hair and let them be loose and natural. Do not tie them or pin them. Also do not use any hair gel, spray or styling. These things can interfere in brain waves and the recording might be faulty.
Have your normal diet but avoid taking any caffeinated drink at least 4 hours prior test. Also eat within 4 hours before the test.
If you are taking any kind of medication for your sleep disorder, then continue to do so unless your doctor asks you to stop.
Avoid taking shower or getting wet as water can damage the equipment.
Do not chew gum or eat crunchy food before the test.
Apart from these, it is important to have meeting with your doctor and discuss about your lack of sleep and conditions that cause it. This way you will understand what exactly is not letting you sleep!
Performing EEG test – What do you expect during EEG test?
For the test, you will be asked to lie down on a reclining chair or a table where an EEG technician or physiologist will clean your head area and mark electrode points with a washable ink pen.
After that around 20 to 27 small electrodes will be places on your head using washable glue. These sensors are attached to a computer with small thin wires.
As the electronic signals are sent to your brain, the EEG person will ask you to deep heavily in and out or open or close your eyes several times during the test.
There will be flashing lights inside the room which will help you relax and sleep so that your mental activity can be recorded.
The different types of brain waves will be displayed and recorded in the computer. Once the test is done, the electrodes are removed.
There is absolutely no pain or discomfort involved in EEG test. Duration of this test is approximately one hour, although some tests might take longer.
Are there any risks involved?
Sleep deprived EEG is a complete risk free process of getting to know the activities of the brain while sleeping. There are no electrical signals sent to the brain during the test.
It just detects, amplifies and records the brain waves. You might feel a little drowsy after the test, because of which you will not be advised to drive, but that does not signify any side effect.
Also if you are on a sleep deprivation treatment then you can continue your normal schedule and medication without any problem.
Get the results
When your test is complete, a details report is sent to a brain and nervous system specialist or a doctor who interprets your EEG report.
Further your report and notes from neurologist is sent to your doctor for discussing the results and remedies with you.
EEG is a simple test for sleep deprivation and a necessary step in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders.
If you or any one in your family is having hard time sleeping or not having sufficient sleep, then must take medical advice and go for EEG.
For more information in this test and sleep deprivation along with its causes and effects, must check the given links.
Sources & Links
This article really piqued my interest because I have been talking to my dad lately about his sleeping problems. For the past twenty years he has been a truck driver. Sometimes being gone from home for weeks at a time and sometimes only sleeping as little as 4 hours at night so he could meet his deadlines. Now that he is retired he is finding difficulties getting sleep at night and an EEG was something referred from a physician so this article I thought would be helpful to refer to him since he is nervous. Thanks for the info