Sleep disturbance: the patient care activities applied at the night shift in the intensive care unit


  • Sevim Çelik MSc,

  • Deniz Öztekin PhD, RN,

  • Neriman Akyolcu PhD, RN,

  • Halim İşsever PhD

Sevim Çelik
Istanbul University
Florence Nightingale College of Nursing
Abide-i Hürriyet Cad. 80270
Istanbul Turkey
Telephone: 0 212 224 49 87


Aims and objectives.  The aim of the study was to determine the frequency and types of nursing activities on sedated and non-sedated patients in the intensive care unit at night shift.

Background.  The complex intensive care unit and nursing activities has been described as an environment in which patients enter in a physiological crisis. This is even more so when the patient is unable to communicate or heavily sedated or unable to move. Nursing activities, fear and apprehension cause low morale and sleep disturbance.

Method.  The study was carried out on a descriptive basis in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. Thirty sedated and 30 non-sedated patients to whom the nursing care was applied during 19.00–07.00 hours for three consecutive nights were chosen with simple random sampling. Data were gathered by means of retrospective examination of the standard nursing chart notes about the 60 patients for three consecutive nights. Data were analysed using percentage calculations and chi-square test.

Results.  The results demonstrate that patient records indicated a mean of 51 interactions per patient per night. Nursing activities were more frequent between 02.00 and 05.00 hours. It was detected that nursing activities such as mouth and eye care, decubitus ulcer care, change of dressing, bed bath, catheter change for three night shifts were more frequently between 24.00 and 05.00 hours. Mechanical ventilation control and endotracheal suctioning were more frequently performed on sedated patients than on non-sedated patients (P < 0.05).

Conclusion.  These findings of this study indicate that the nursing activities in the intensive care unit were focused on the activities, which will maximize what is seen to be physiological stability.

Relevance to clinical practice.  This study has provided further data that identify the activities of nurses working in the intensive care unit at night shift. We hope to contribute to the development of the sleep protocol in surgical intensive care units.