How To Sleep With An Ambulatory EEG: Six Tips & Best Sleeping Positions

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by theworldofsleepstaff

Getting an EEG or having one attached to your body isn’t the best of experiences. And it can be uncomfortable and may even hinder you from getting a good night’s rest.

If you have one attached, will soon have one attached, or knows someone who is in such a situation, you should give this article a read as here we will extensively discuss how to sleep with an ambulatory EEG and how to ensure a rejuvenating night’s sleep even with one installed.

However, as always, remember to discuss what’s best with your doctor first.


  1. Back To Basics
  2. Can You Sleep With An Ambulatory EEG?
  3. Tips On How to Sleep With An Ambulatory EEG
  4. Why Is An Ambulatory EEG Performed?

But First: back To Basics

An electroencephalography, also known as an ambulatory EEG, is a procedure in which the subject wears a wearable and portable electroencephalography (EEG) instrument or gadget that accurately measures the brain’s electrical activity for 24 hours or more.

It’s specifically used to look for anomalies in the brain’s electrical activity or waves. But as it’s also worn overnight, it can be a little uncomfortable to wear.

You wear it at night because even while asleep, electrical impulses are continuously exchanged between the brain’s cells, which keeps them in communication. A recording of an EEG will reveal this activity as well as other activities in the brain in the form of wavy lines.

An EEG may also involve video monitoring. Cameras are usually installed in the subjects’ room to monitor and give important visual cues on how the body acts during the procedure.

Are An EEG & MRI The Same?

The EEG test differs from Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or scans in that, while the latter (MRI) shows the physical structures of the brain or spine, the former (EEG) captures the electrical connections in the brain.

Are An Ambulatory EEG & Standard EEG The Same?

An ambulatory EEG is also unique from a standard EEG mainly because it can capture aberrant brain activity that isn’t visible during a standard 20-minute EEG recording.

The ambulatory EEG will be able to capture and record those occurrences that would have been missed with the regular EEG if the aberrant activity only occurs sporadically throughout the day or at specific periods of the day.

Ambulatory EEG is particularly helpful and can aid medical professionals in diagnosing seizures or specific symptoms that are thought to be related to them, as well as recording electrographic seizures that are symptomless. This test can also be performed to determine whether epilepsy is the cause of seizures if they still persist after attempts to treat them with various medications have proved futile.

In addition, unlike standard EEG, ambulatory EEG testing is recommended for a variety of neurological conditions. This kind of testing is most frequently used to identify neurological symptoms such as syncope (fainting), headache, memory problems, stroke, spells, and epileptic seizures.

What Happens During An Ambulatory EEG?

  • A technician applies roughly 23 electrodes on your scalp using adhesive or paste. Next, a cap or gauze dressing is placed over the electrodes on your head.

  • You could alter your breathing pattern or glance at a bright light to see changes in your brain activity during these activation techniques. The technologist will capture any activity related to any seizures you may have in the record.

  • The technician makes an effort to get a lengthier sleep recording during an EEG that lasts for several hours and records the study for at least one hour plus.

  • You typically return home and carry out your routine after an ambulatory EEG. You spend one to three days wearing or carrying a portable EEG recorder.

  • The technologist usually uses a special glue to keep the electrodes in place because they must remain on your head for a more extended period of time than for a standard EEG. After the test, the adhesive is removed using acetone or a comparable solution.

Now that you have an overview of what ambulatory EEG is, let’s discuss helpful tips that will ensure you don’t lose sleep during this process.

crop doctor with stethoscope in hospital

Can You Sleep With an Ambulatory EEG?

People who are about to undergo or currently undergoing this process are usually quick to ask this question along with whether they can use their phones, eat, bathe, or sleep while with an ambulatory EEG.

To answer your question, one can still sleep with an ambulatory EEG. However, just like every other medical procedure, sleeping might prove a bit challenging if you have an ambulatory EEG attached.

However, it is still essential to continue with your regular sleeping schedule as your body needs all the rest it can get during this period.

Furthermore, getting a good amount of sleep will help the technicians observe how your brain functions to sleep while the study is being conducted.

Sleeping with electrodes attached to your head will definitely be an unfamiliar sensation. Still, with the tips we’ll discuss below, you’ll be able to get some measure of comfort even with the EEG attached.

white pillows on a bed

Tips on How to Sleep With an Ambulatory EEG

1. Sleep In A Cool Place

For a few reasons, it is crucial to maintain your cool (literally and figuratively) when wearing an Ambulatory EEG. For one, staying cold will keep you from sweating, help you sleep better, and help keep the electrodes on your skin.

Sweating can cause the electrode to come off or lose contact with your skin, so you’ll want to do everything possible to prevent that from happening.

Therefore, ensure that your bedroom is cool is important. You can keep some sheets and blankets close to you in case you start feeling cold in the middle of the night.

white bed linen

2. Ensure The Device & Wires Are Kept Above Your Head

This is yet another recommendation for a peaceful night’s rest when you have an ambulatory EEG attached to you.

Doctors and EEG technicians are responsible for advising patients to exercise particular caution when undergoing ambulatory EEG. They must advise patients to keep wires neatly wrapped and, if feasible, above their heads when sleeping.

For the convenience and safety of the patients when sleeping, it is recommended that patients with ambulatory EEG maintain the devices and cables above the head.

For instance, if a patient is sleeping with a bundle of wires going up and over the pillow, the likelihood that the patient will become tangled in their own wires diminishes if they turn over in the middle of the night, allowing them to sleep soundly without becoming uncomfortable or restless.

3. Make An Effort To Become Accustomed To It

It is important for you to become comfortable with your ambulatory EEG in order to try to obtain a decent night’s sleep while wearing one. You should also figure out a posture that works for you, one that will allow you to fall asleep quickly without feeling uncomfortable or restless.

You could elevate your head with soft pillows or towels, which would, in turn, prevent the electrodes from moving while you sleep.

4. Use A Recliner

You might also consider utilizing a cozy reclining chair if you have trouble sleeping in your bed. Since mobility would be constrained on the chair, this may also be a helpful suggestion for those who frequently wiggle or toss around when they sleep.

However even if you move to a recliner, it’s crucial to adhere to your usual sleep rituals. There is a chance that important information that could help with an accurate diagnosis could be lost if you are not getting as much sleep as you typically would.

5. Tie The Head Wrap In A Convenient Way

An EEG means you’ll have tons of wires glued to your head. Usually, these wires will come with a head wrap.

It is important that you find the perfect balance in tying the head wrap containing the wires around your head.

If you tie it too tightly, you’ll become uncomfortable and may be unable to get proper sleep. On the other hand, if it is tied too loosely,  the wires may get disconnected, and the technician may not get accurate readings.

You can ask your technician for other helpful tips for tying the head wrap.

6. Sleep On Your Side

To avoid the wires tangling around your body, it is preferable to sleep on your side and arrange the wires in a way that they won’t tangle around you.

If you sleep on your back, the pillow or bed may dislocate the wires, and if you sleep on your front, you’ll be at a higher risk of tangling the wires around you.

Apart from making you less susceptible to getting tangled up with the wire, sleeping on your side is actually one of the best ways to sleep. It takes off pressure from your spine and back.

Why is an Ambulatory EEG Performed?

An ambulatory EEG is usually performed in order to assess for seizure activity linked to epilepsy or other seizure disorders.

EEGs can also be used to monitor medical disorders or determine the cause of specific symptoms.

Medical professionals may also use an EEG to monitor a patient’s brain activity after surgery or while in a coma. When a patient is in a protracted coma, an EEG may also be performed to confirm brain death. When someone is placed in a medically induced coma, a continuous EEG is utilized to determine the appropriate anaesthetic level.

EEG May Also Be Beneficial In The Diagnosis Or Treatment Of:

  • Encephalopathy (various conditions affecting the brain)
  • Sleep disorders
  • Stroke
  • Brain damage from head injury
  • Brain inflammation
  • Brain tumours
  • Alzheimer’s disease

EEGs Assist In Identifying The Root Causes Of Symptoms Like:

  • Amnesia (loss of memory)
  • Syncope (unconsciousness)
  • Seizures
  • Confusion

How Does An Ambulatory EEG Actually Work?

An ambulatory EEG is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure in which small, flat metal discs (electrodes) are placed on your head to capture the electrical activity in your brain.

The electrical signals (impulses) and nerve signals that go between brain cells are monitored by electrodes on your head. The electrodes then transmit data about the impulses to an EEG device.

photograph of a brain on a blue surface

How to Sleep With an Ambulatory EEG: Wrapping Up

Being on an EEG is not exactly a comfortable experience. However, with the tips we’ve listed above, you will find it easy to get a good night’s rest – which we might add – is vital to the whole process.