Nurses perceptions of sleep in the intensive care unit environment: A literature review

Laura Nesbitt, Deborah Goode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Sleep deprivation within intensive care units (ICU) remains a recurring norm despite the extensive research highlighting a crucial need for sleep promotion. However, the degree to which sleep deprivation can be associated with the nurses’ provision of care remains unclear. Therefore, this critical literature review aims to explore the nurses’ knowledge and prioritisation of sleep whilst examining the nurses’ use of sleep assessment skills and tools. The nurses’ awareness and prioritisation of sleep promoting interventions and complimentary therapies will also be analysed.
The online databases Cochrane, CINAHL and Science Direct were searched for English language articles, published between 2003 and 2013 which were downloadable in full text format. A total of 378 articles were identified and 25 papers met all the inclusion criteria.
It appears that ICU nurses lack a complex understanding of the importance of sleep and the interventions needed to promote it. Indeed, studies suggest that inattention to sufficient training and a lack of structured protocol within practice makes the provision of sleep for the ICU patient impossible. Therefore, whilst further empirical research is required it may be noted that evidence informed education programmes and sleep assessment tools require development within the ICU environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-235
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Issue number4
Early online date30 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Aug 2014


  • Sleep deprivation
  • Intensive care
  • Nurses' perceptions


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