Childhood sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is characterized by an increased work of breathing, restless night sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness and has been associated with cognitive impairment, behavioral disturbances and early cardiovascular changes. Compared to normal controls, children with SDB have elevated arousal thresholds and their sleep EEG may elicit cortical activation associated with arousals but often too subtle to be visually scored. The aim of this study was to assess EEG complexity throughout the respiratory cycle based on symbolic dynamics in children with SDB (n=40) and matched healthy controls. EEG amplitude values were symbolized based on the quartiles of their distribution and words of length 3 were formed and classed into 4 types based on their patterns. Children with SDB showed less complex EEG dynamics in non-REM sleep that was unrelated to the respiratory phase. In REM sleep normal children showed a respiratory phase-related reduction in EEG variability during the expiratory phase compared to inspiration, which was not apparent in children with SDB. In conclusion, respiratory cycle related EEG dynamics are altered in children with SDB during REM sleep and indicate changes in cortical activity.