Sleep and sedative medicine

At the intensive care unit you will be constantly exposed to frequent stimuli. Depending on the nature of your illness and how seriously ill you it may be necessary to administer medication that will help you to sleep


Occasionally it may be necessary for you to sleep all 24 hours of the day. The depth of sleep necessary in order to achieve peace and quiet varies. The depth of the sleep you have had affects what you subsequently remember following your stay at the intensive care unit. It can also affect how you feel following discharge from hospital.

Optimal sedation

The staff's task is to achieve an acceptable level of well-being for you with optimal sedation, as well as to reduce pain, anxiety and worry. It is also to allow you to be able to communicate with your surroundings in spite of receiving sedative medication. In connection with convalescence and as required the supply of sleeping pills will be reduced.

Sleep rhythm

It is normal for one’s sleep rhythm to be disturbed during a period of stay at hospital. The surroundings in the room are important in order to create conditions conducive to peace and quiet. There should be the facility to vary the lighting between day and night. Noise from the surroundings, appliances and the tone of conversations should be adjusted to minimize distractions. An effort should be made to maintain good contact with staff, who will regularly inform you what is happening and give you information about the time, place and why you are hospitalized.


It is normal to suffer from a state of confusion, known as intensive Care Unit Delirium - hypoactive delirium, hyperactive delirium or a mix of the two. Signs of this include psychomotor restlessness, hyperactivity such as anxiety, being disorganised and occasionally act out. One’s dreams may be different and more intense. You may also experience unnatural sensations such as nightmares and hallucinations. It can be difficult to distinguish between dream and reality, and you can lose become ungrounded and lose touch with reality. Factors influencing whether this happens may include the severity of your illness, the length of your stay in the ICU on a ventilator, treatment with medicine whose side effects may have affect you adversely.


In an intensive care unit there is constantly something happening. Loss of daily rhythm combined with lack of rest and sleep can lead to deteriorating health. For this reason it is important to schedule rest periods even during the daytime. Sleep disorders can continue for a some time following intensive care. It is important to work with and talk to the intensive care staff about this following your stay.