The desire for families to be physically present to support their loved ones in the intensive care unit, and guidelines in favor of this open visitation approach, require that clinicians consider both patient and family sleep. This article reviews the causes of poor sleep for patients and their family members in the intensive care unit as well as the expected changes in cognition and emotion that can result from sleep deprivation. Measures are proposed to improve the intensive care unit environment to promote family sleep. A framework to educate family members and engage them in preservation of their and their loved one’s circadian rhythm is also presented. Although further research is needed, the proposed framework has the potential to improve outcomes for patients and their families in the intensive care unit.

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