Delirium is considered a severe complication. It increases morbidity and mortality and represents a major financial burden for healthcare systems. Thus, prevention becomes a focal point of research. Sleep disturbances have been linked to the occurrence of delirium. Consequently, several interventions that target a possible connection have been studied in recent years.
This narrative literature review explores the published data for an association between delirium and different types of sleep disturbances, the pathophysiological interactions and prevention methods.
Material and methods
A literature search was carried out utilizing PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Livivo and Google Scholar.
Although an association between several types of sleep disturbances and delirium has been shown, no causality has been proven so far. Nevertheless, several pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions for delirium prevention have been attempted; however, the level of evidence is insufficient at this point.
Further research is required to prove causality between sleep disturbances and delirium. Nonpharmacological interventions should be used in construction and maintenance of intensive care units and hospitals. Pharmacological interventions could be effective for prevention but further research is needed. Screening patients at risk of delirium for sleep disturbances and antihistaminergic/anticholinergic medication seems beneficial.