Promoting nighttime sleep in the intensive care unit: Alternative strategies in nursing

Nicola Pagnucci, Angela Tolotti, Lucia Cadorin, Dario Valcarenghi, Francesco Forfori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To identify if complementary interventions impacted on conscious intensive care patients’ perception of stress factors and quality of sleep. Research methodology: A non-controlled clinical study was undertaken on conscious patients in an intensive care unit in central Italy. Patients perception of stress factors and quality of sleep during the first night with usual medical and nursing treatments was measured using two questionnaires: the Stress Factors in Intensive Care Unit Questionnaire and the Modified Richards-Campbell Sleep Questionnaire. During the second night two specific treatments were administered: (1) receptive musical sounds and (2) a massage using sweet lavender/lemon-scented almond oil. The same variables were measured on the third day using the same questionnaires. Results: The data of 74 patients were analysed. The patients’ main concerns were “hearing unusual noises” (n = 46, 62.2%), “having people continuously working around the bed” (n = 53, 71.6%), “being worried” (n = 60, 81.1%) and “being unable to sleep” (n = 47, 63.5%). Fifty-three patients (71.6%) reported waking up in the middle of the night and 21 (28.3%) of them were unable to fall asleep again. Receptive musical sounds and massage using aromatherapy improved the quality of patients’ sleep (t = 2.01, p = 0.047). Conclusion: Complementary interventions may reduce patients’ perception of stress and improve their sleep. Further research is now needed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIntensive and Critical Care Nursing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Alternative medicine
  • Complementary interventions
  • Complementary medicine
  • Critical care nursing
  • Intensive care
  • Non-pharmacological intervention
  • Nursing intervention
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sleeping
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care


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