Impact of Sleep Deprivation in the Neurological Intensive Care Unit: A Narrative Review

  • Victoria A. ChangEmail author
  • Robert L. Owens
  • Jamie N. LaBuzetta


Sleep is fundamental for everyday functioning, yet it is often negatively impacted in critically ill patients by the intensive care setting. With a focus on the neurological intensive care unit (NeuroICU), this narrative review summarizes methods of measuring sleep and addresses common causes of sleep disturbance in the hospital including environmental, pharmacological, and patient-related factors. The effects of sleep deprivation on the cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune, endocrine, and neuropsychological systems are discussed, with a focus on short-term deprivation in critically ill populations. Where evidence is lacking in the literature, long-term sleep deprivation studies and the effects of sleep deprivation in healthy individuals are also referenced. Lastly, strategies for the promotion of sleep in the NeuroICU are presented.


Sleep Sleep deprivation Intensive care unit Brain injury Critical illness 


Authors’ Contribution

VA Chang was responsible for primary review of the literature and drafting of the manuscript, as well as providing final approval for submission. RL Owens provided revisions and feedback and was involved in final approval for submission. JN LaBuzetta was responsible for conception of the manuscript, extensive revisions and feedback, and providing final approval for submission.

Source of Support

No financial support was utilized in the preparation of this review article.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval/Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature and Neurocritical Care Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MedicineUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep MedicineUniversity of California San Diego HealthSan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.Division of Neurocritical CareUniversity of California San Diego HealthSan DiegoUSA

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