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Pediatric Intensive Care Unit related Sleep and Circadian Dysregulation: a focused review.

The pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) is bright, loud, and disruptive to children. Strategies to improve the sleep of adults in the ICU have improved delirium and mortality rates. Children need more sleep than adults for active growth, healing, and development when well; this is likely true when they are critically ill. This review was performed to describe what we know in this area to date with the intent to identify future directions for research in this field. Since the 1990s, 16 articles on 14 observational trials have been published investigating the sleep on a total of 312 critically ill children and the melatonin levels of an additional 144. Sleep measurements occurred in 9 studies through bedside observation (n = 2), actigraphy (n = 2), electroencephalogram (n = 1) and polysomnography (n = 4), of which polysomnography is the most reliable. Children in the PICU sleep more during the day, have fragmented sleep and disturbed sleep architecture. Melatonin levels may be elevated and peak later in critically ill children. Early data suggest there are at-risk subgroups for sleep and circadian disruption in the PICU including those with sepsis, burns, traumatic brain injury and after cardiothoracic surgery. The available literature describing the sleep of critically ill children is limited to small single-center observational studies with varying measurements of sleep and inconsistent findings. Future studies should use validated measurements and standardized definitions to begin to harmonize this area of medicine to build toward pragmatic interventional trials that may shift the paradigm of care in the pediatric intensive care unit.

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