No data are available in the literature assessing the potential use of waking electroencephalographic (EEG) activity in the detection of excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in patients with sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD). The aim of this study was to evaluate whether waking EEG spectral power reflects the level of EDS in SRBD patients. The study was performed in 48 patients in whom quantitative EEG analysis, including the alpha attenuation coefficient (AAC), was performed. Sleepiness was assessed by the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, the Stanford Sleepiness Scale, the Visual Analogue Scale and the maintenance of wakefulness test. Although AAC and EEG spectral power tended to vary throughout the day, none of these variations correlated with EDS measures. Waking EEG measures were not different between snorers and apnoeic patients. Compared to nonsleepy patients, sleepy patients had greater theta and slow alpha powers, but the differences did not reach statistical significance. The EEG slowing was independent of hypoxaemia, severity of SRBD, or degree of sleep disruption. The authors conclude that waking electroencephalographic measures are not sensitive enough to predict variation in alertness or to differentiate sleepy from nonsleepy sleep-related breathing disorders patients. The degree of electroencephalographic slowing was related neither to sleep disruption nor to severity of sleep-related breathing disorders.