A Systematic Review of Sleep Measurement in Critically Ill Patients

Front Neurol. 2020 Nov 6;11:542529. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.542529. eCollection 2020.


Background: Clinical trialists and clinicians have used a number of sleep quality measures to determine the outcomes of interventions to improve sleep and ameliorate the neurobehavioral consequences of sleep deprivation in critically ill patients, but findings have not always been consistent. To elucidate the source of these consistencies, an important consideration is responsiveness of existing sleep measures. The purpose of an evaluative measure is to describe a construct of interest in a specific population, and to measure the extent of change in the construct over time. This systematic literature review identified measures of sleep quality in critically ill adults hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and assessed their measurement properties, strengths and weaknesses, clinical usefulness, and responsiveness. We also recommended modifications, including new technology, that may improve clinical usefulness and responsiveness of the measures in research and practice. Methods: CINAHAL, PubMed/Medline, and Cochrane Library were searched from January 1, 2000 to February 1, 2020 to identify studies that evaluated sleep quality in critically ill patients. Results: Sixty-two studies using polysomnography (PSG) and other electroencephalogram-based methods, actigraphy, clinician observation, or patient perception using questionnaires were identified and evaluated. Key recommendations are: standard criteria are needed for scoring PSG in ICU patients who often have atypical brain waves; studies are too few, samples sizes too small, and study duration too short for recommendations on electroencephalogram-based measures and actigraphy; use the Sleep Observation Tool for clinician observation of sleep; and use the Richards Campbell Sleep Questionnaire to measure patient perception of sleep. Conclusions: Measuring the impact of interventions to prevent sleep deprivation requires reliable and valid sleep measures, and investigators have made good progress developing, testing, and applying these measures in the ICU. We recommend future large, multi-site intervention studies that measure multiple dimensions of sleep, and provide additional evidence on instrument reliability, validity, feasibility and responsiveness. We also encourage testing new technologies to augment existing measures to improve their feasibility and accuracy.

Keywords: ICU—intensive care unit; actigraphy; critically ill patient; polysomnography; sleep measurement; sleep questionnaire.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review