Alpha-EEG Anomaly

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The alpha-EEG anomaly is an abnormal sleep pattern observed in some people with fibromyalgia.

Physiologically, sleep is a complicated thing. Doctors can learn a lot about how you sleep by measuring certain brain waves. To do this, they'll order a sleep study, during which you'll be hooked up to a machine called an electroencephalograph, or EEG.

The EEG monitors the electrical activity in your brain while you sleep overnight in a sleep lab.

Types of Brain Waves

We have several types of brain waves that are associated with different types of brain activity. The two we're concerned with here are called "alpha" and "delta" waves.

Alpha waves indicate that the brain is awake but relaxed. Typically, a sleeping brain does not display alpha waves. Instead, during deep sleep, it produces delta waves.

In people with fibromyalgia who have the alpha-EEG anomaly, the test reveals that alpha waves -- the "alert" ones -- are showing up during deep sleep. That suggests sudden bursts of wakeful activity, meaning that your brain is not resting like it should be.

Fibromyalgia is often associated with what's called "unrefreshing sleep." That means that sleep doesn't make you feel rested. Even if you sleep for eight hours, for example, you may feel as if you've only slept for a couple of hours or that you haven't slept at all. Some researchers believe our sleep is unrefreshing because the alpha-EEG anomaly disrupts deep sleep, leaving us unable to get quality rest.

The alpha-EEG anomaly is also know as alpha-delta intrusion, alpha intrusion, or alpha-delta sleep.

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