Resource type: Article

Problems sleeping

It’s very common to have problems sleeping after being transferred to the general wards, even though you may feel very tired. You may be surprised at how tired you feel, even though you may not have done much during the day. Some patients may feel tired after doing simple things like taking a shower or having gentle physiotherapy.

You might struggle to get to sleep, have broken sleep, sleep for much longer than usual or sleep at different times than you normally would (including napping during the day). Some patients may wake several times during the night, either due to general noise levels on the ward, feeling anxious about what's happened to them or feeling afraid to sleep because of the frightening dreams and memories that many patients have during their time on Intensive Care.

Sleeping a lot more than normal

"One thing I notice is that I'm sleeping a lot, about 12 to 13 hours a night. It’s not a perfect sleep…I'm waking up a few times during the night."

Sleeping at different times of the day

"I've not been sleeping…well, I’ve been sleeping at all the wrong times.   I'm dozing when it's time to wake up. I have to be woken for breakfast, because I've not been sleeping all night."

Being scared to go to sleep

It is very common to have strange (and sometimes very frightening) dreams, nightmares and memories of Intensive Care.

" I was scared to go to sleep because I had these recurring dreams. They were horrible.I'd wake up, shake it off,but when I fell back asleep, I'd get straight back into it (the horrible dream)"

Having been so ill and having become ill very quickly can, understandably, also leave patients feeling anxious and afraid to sleep.

"And still I couldn’t sleep, because my mind…it’s still like that now…it’s like it’s on alert, there’s something else going to happen."

 "I was frightened to go to sleep, because I thought I'd never wake up again...but that didn't last long."