• congestive heart failure;
  • sleep disorders;
  • phenomenography;
  • conception;
  • nursing;
  • coping

Patients with congestive heart failure and their conceptions of their sleep situation

Aim. To describe, from a nursing perspective, how patients with CHF conceived their sleep situation.

Background. Sleep disturbances are very common in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF). Polysomnographic studies have shown that the total duration of sleep is shorter and the sleep structure disturbed, with frequent arousals and sleep stage changes.

Methods. A qualitative descriptive design inspired by a phenomenographic approach was employed. Conceptions were collected through interviews with 20 strategically chosen CHF patients.

Findings. The findings showed that the patients’ sleep was affected by their daily activities, the disease itself and cardiac symptoms. The sleep disturbances gave effects such as fatigue, listlessness, loss of concentration and loss of temper. These effects led to a need for daytime sleep, seclusion, counselling and information. Patients handled their sleep disturbances through coping mechanisms related to developed patterns of daily life and through support from their psychosocial environment.

Conclusions. Through an increased awareness of the causes of sleep disturbances in CHF patients, nurses can more effectively meet their caring needs and reduce the psychological stressors that patients develop. Information and education, both to patients and the next of kin, about the disease and the sleep situation, especially good sleeping habits, can help patients to better cope with sleep disturbances.