Slow waves are a salient feature of the electroencephalogram (EEG) during non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep. The aim of this study was to assess the topography of EEG power and the activation of brain structures during slow wave sleep under normal conditions and after sleep deprivation. Sleep EEG recordings during baseline and recovery sleep after 40 h of sustained wakefulness were analyzed (eight healthy young men, 27 channel EEG). Power maps were computed for the first non-REM sleep episode (where sleep pressure is highest) in baseline and recovery sleep, at frequencies between 0.5 and 2 Hz. Power maps had a frontal predominance at all frequencies between 0.5 and 2 Hz. An additional occipital focus of activity was observed below 1 Hz. Power maps ≤ 1 Hz were not affected by sleep deprivation, whereas an increase in power was observed in the maps ≥ 1.25 Hz. Based on the response to sleep deprivation, low-delta (0.5-1 Hz) and mid-delta activity (1.25-2 Hz) were dissociated. Electrical sources within the cortex of low- and mid-delta activity were estimated using eLORETA. Source localization revealed a predominantly frontal distribution of activity for low-delta and mid-delta activity. Sleep deprivation resulted in an increase in source strength only for mid-delta activity, mainly in parietal and frontal regions. Low-delta activity dominated in occipital and temporal regions and mid-delta activity in limbic and frontal regions independent of the level of sleep pressure. Both, power maps and electrical sources exhibited trait-like aspects.