Key messages

• There should be a rational approach to the treatment of sleep disruption in the intensive care unit and this should be directed towards the underlying cause.

• Measures include treatment of underlying and coexisting disease, treatment of pain and anxiety, and sensible modification of the intensive care unit environment.

• If the above measures prove ineffective, a rational choice of drug therapy should be instituted. Introduction

Although sleep disturbances and their sequelae are becoming increasingly recognized in the critically ill patient, studies of the effectiveness of treatment rarely appear. However, it is possible to propose a number of strategies that will restore a normal sleep architecture in this group of patients.

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