Nurses' experiences of hospitalised patients' sleep in Sweden: a qualitative study

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Aims and objectives.

The aim was to describe nurses' experiences of patients' sleep at an emergency hospital and their perceptions of sleep-promoting interventions.


Promotion of patients' sleep during hospital care is an important intervention for the nursing profession. To promote sleep and to initiate sleep-promoting interventions, nurses need basic knowledge about sleep and its physiology. Therefore, it is of importance to explore and expand knowledge about how nurses experience patients′ sleep and how they perceive working with it while providing care.


A qualitative descriptive design was used.


Data were collected from four focus groups and seven individual interviews. A total of twenty-two registered nurses participated. Data were analysed using a qualitative content analysis.


Nurses expressed a desire and an ambition to work in ways that promote patients' sleep during hospitalisation. Nurses reported that health care services and emergency hospitals were not organised according to patients' perspective and needs. Furthermore, they did not have opportunities to work effectively to promote sleep according to the patients' wishes. Several nurses stated that they did not have sufficient knowledge about sleep and that they did the best they could under prevailing circumstances. Nurses emphasised the importance of sleep for patients and that it was an area that should be given far greater priority.


The results indicate that nurses currently have insufficient knowledge about sleep and sleep-promoting interventions. These aspects of nursing is based on personal experience and common sense rather than being evidence based. Furthermore, sleep as a nursing topic needs to be developed and given more focus in order for nurses to be able to deliver high quality care at emergency hospitals.

Relevance to clinical practice.

Nurses require more knowledge and education to gain deeper understanding of sleep and to deliver evidence-based, high quality care.

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