Effects of music during daytime rest in the intensive care unit

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Sleep is essential to the recovery of patients in the intensive care unit. Patients in the intensive care unit frequently experience poor sleep, characterized by sleep deprivation, sleep fragmentation and abnormal sleep architecture. Factors affecting sleep are multifactorial.


To investigate the effects of music on self-reported quality of sleep during daytime rest among patients in the intensive care unit.

Study design

A randomized controlled trial.


The study was conducted between February and April 2016 in two Danish multidisciplinary intensive care units. The study sample consisted of 37 patients (19 in the control group and 18 in the intervention group) who complied with the criteria of inclusion for the study. Patients were randomly assigned to either an intervention group or a control group. The intervention group listened to music for 30 min during daytime rest while the control group rested without music. The Richards-Campbell Sleep Questionnaire was used to measure the subjective quality of sleep.


Significant differences in the mean scores of the subjective quality of sleep were found between the intervention group and the control group (p < 0·02). Significant differences were also found between groups in three items of sleep scores: sleep depth (p < 0·02), awakenings (p < 0·00) and the overall perceived quality of sleep (p < 0·01). The perceived noise level score was higher in the intervention group compared with the control group, although not statistically significant (p < 0·67).


Listening to music during daytime rest improves subjective sleep in patients in the intensive care unit. Furthermore, there are indications that listening to music reduces the subjective experience of noise in some patients.

Relevance to clinical practice

The result of this study implies that music can be an effective practice for nurses to improve sleep among patients in the intensive care unit.

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