Sleep of critically ill children in the pediatric intensive care unit: A systematic review

Sapna R. Kudchadkar, Othman A. Aljohani, Naresh M. Punjabi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Critically ill children in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) are exposed to multiple physical, environmental and pharmacologic factors which increase the propensity for sleep disruption and loss and may, in turn, play a role in short-term recovery from critical illness and long-term neurocognitive outcomes. Mechanically ventilated children receive sedative and analgesic medications, often at high doses and for long durations, to improve comfort and synchrony with mechanical ventilation. Sedatives and analgesics can decrease slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement sleep. Paradoxically, sedative medication doses are often increased in critically ill children to improve the subjective assessment of sedation and sleep, leading to further agitation and deterioration of sleep quality. The heterogeneity in age and critical illness encountered in the PICU pose several challenges to research on sleep in this setting. The present article reviews the available evidence on sleep in critically ill children admitted to the PICU, with an emphasis on subjective and objective methods of sleep assessment used and special populations studied, including mechanically ventilated children and children with severe burns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalSleep Medicine Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Delirium
  • Intensive care
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Neonatal
  • Pediatric
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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