• EEG;
  • sleep;
  • penalized splines;
  • measurement error;
  • spectrogram

We propose nonparametric inference methods on the mean difference between two correlated functional processes. We compare methods that (1) incorporate different levels of smoothing of the mean and covariance; (2) preserve the sampling design; and (3) use parametric and nonparametric estimation of the mean functions. We apply our method to estimating the mean difference between average normalized δ power of sleep electroencephalograms for 51 subjects with severe sleep apnea and 51 matched controls in the first 4 ;h after sleep onset. We obtain data from the Sleep Heart Health Study, the largest community cohort study of sleep. Although methods are applied to a single case study, they can be applied to a large number of studies that have correlated functional data. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.