, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 314-320
Date: 18 Sep 2008

Chronic sleep disorders in survivors of the acute respiratory distress syndrome

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Sleep disruption is well recognized in the Intensive Care Unit. Poor sleep quality likely continues following discharge from hospital in several patients and becomes a chronic disorder in some. The aim of this study was to describe the etiology of chronic sleep complaints in survivors of ARDS.


Seven ARDS survivors with no previous sleep complaints who reported difficulty sleeping 6 months or more following discharge from hospital were evaluated. Sleep quality was assessed subjectively with a sleep history and the Insomnia Severity Index and objectively with polysomnography. Daytime sleepiness was assessed with the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.


A chronic sleep disorder was identified in each patient who reported difficulty sleeping. The primary sleep disorder was chronic conditioned insomnia (5 patients), parasomnia (1 patient) and obstructive sleep apnea (1 patient). In addition, 4 patients had periodic leg movements, which was of uncertain clinical significance.


Chronic sleep disorders, which originate during the acute illness, are present in some ARDS survivors several months after discharge from hospital. If unrecognized, lack of treatment may contribute to impaired quality of life and incomplete rehabilitation from their critical illness.