Temporal characteristics of the sleep EEG power spectrum in critically ill children

Sapna R. Kudchadkar, Myron Yaster, Arjun N. Punjabi, Stuart F. Quan, James L. Goodwin, R. Blaine Easley, Naresh M. Punjabi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: Although empirical evidence is limited, critical illness in children is associated with disruption of the normal sleep-wake rhythm. The objective of the current study was to examine the temporal characteristics of the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) in a sample of children with critical illness. Methods: Limited montage EEG recordings were collected for at least 24 hours from 8 critically ill children on mechanical ventilation for respiratory failure in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) of a tertiary-care hospital. Each PICU patient was age- and gender-matched to a healthy subject from the community. Power spectral analysis with the fast Fourier transform (FFT) was used to characterize EEG spectral power and categorized into 4 frequency bands: δ (0.8 to 4.0 Hz), θ (4.1 to 8.0 Hz), α (8.1 to 13.0 Hz), and β1/β2 (13.1 to 20.0 Hz). Results: PICU patients did not manifest the ultradian variability in EEG power spectra including the typical increase in δ-power during the first third of the night that was observed in healthy children. Differences noted included significantly lower mean nighttime δ and θ power in the PICU patients compared to healthy children (p < 0.001). Moreover, in the PICU patients, mean δ and θ power were higher during daytime hours than nighttime hours (p < 0.001). Conclusions: The results presented herein challenge the assumption that children experience restorative sleep during critical illness, highlighting the need for interventional studies to determine whether sleep promotion improves outcomes in critically ill children undergoing active neurocognitive development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1449-1454
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2015


  • Children
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Critical illness
  • Electroencephalogram
  • Intensive care unit
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Pediatric critical care
  • Sedation
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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