Original Research

Factors contributing to sleep deprivation in a multidisciplinary intensive care unit in South Africa

Valerie J. Ehlers, Heather Watson, Mary M. Moleki
Curationis | Vol 36, No 1 | a72 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v36i1.72 | © 2013 Valerie J. Ehlers, Heather Watson, Mary M. Moleki | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 October 2011 | Published: 11 February 2013

About the author(s)

Valerie J. Ehlers, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa
Heather Watson, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa
Mary M. Moleki, Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

Patients in intensive care units require rest and sleep to recuperate, but might suffer from sleep deprivation due to ongoing unit activities. The study aimed to identify and describe the factors contributing to sleep deprivation in one multi-disciplinary intensive care unit (MDICU) in a private hospital in South Africa. Quantitative, descriptive research was conducted to identify factors contributing to sleep deprivation in the research setting, and to make recommendations to enhance these patients’ abilities to sleep. Structured interviews were conducted with 34 adult non-ventilated patients who had spent at least one night in the MDICU and who gave informed consent. Out of the 34 interviewed patients 70.6% (n = 24) indicated that they suffered from sleep deprivation in the MDICU. The five major factors contributing to sleep deprivation in a MDICU were, (1) not knowing nurses’ names, noise caused by alarms, (2) stress, (3) inability to understand medical terms, and (3) blood pressure cuffs that restricted patients’ movements and smelled badly. Patients’ abilities to sleep were enhanced by reassuring nurses whose names they knew and with whom they could communicate. By attending to the identified five major factors, patients’ abilities to sleep in a MDICU could be enhanced enabling patients to recuperate faster. The implementation of such measures need not incur financial costs for the MDICU concerned.

Keywords

intensive care nursing; Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; multi-disciplinary intensive care units; sleep deprivation

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