Sleep problems in emergency department patients with injuries

Acad Emerg Med. 1999 Nov;6(11):1134-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1999.tb00116.x.


Objectives: To assess trauma patients' frequency of sleep problems, to evaluate their injuries in the context of their sleep habits, and to determine how often ED health care workers (HCWs) inquire about sleep complaints.

Methods: This was a prospective observational study of patients evaluated in the ED for unintentional trauma. Patients answered a "sleep survey" that was reviewed for the amount and timing of sleep in the preinjury period and for indications of a sleep problem. Preinjury sleep characteristics were compared with the individual's usual habits, and the group's sleep features were compared with "normal" sleep and the prevalence of sleep problems in historical controls.

Results: Seventy patients were surveyed. Mechanisms and types of injury included motor vehicle collisions (MVCs), falls, lacerations, bruises, sprains, and fractures. The mean total sleep time in the preinjury period (6.9 hours) was significantly shorter than that obtained during usual weekday and weekend sleep. Twenty-four patients (34.3%) were at high risk for a sleep problem. Few patients thought a sleep problem contributed to the injury. No other ED HCW asked about the patient's sleep habits.

Conclusions: Acute sleep deprivation in the preinjury period, and chronic sleep deprivation with a variety of other sleep problems are found in this patient population. Despite the association of sleep problems and certain types of injury (e.g., MVC), ED HCWs do not inquire about sleep in their initial ED evaluations. This important issue may be overlooked in trauma risk assessment and prevention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comorbidity
  • Data Collection
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Philadelphia
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Trauma Centers
  • Urban Population
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy