BACKGROUND: Up to 50% of patients who undergo cardiac surgery report problems with sleep after cardiac surgery. Knowledge about which individual factors are associated with sleep problems after cardiac surgery would help nurses identify patients who are at greater risk for sleep problems during hospitalization. OBJECTIVE: To compare patients perceptions of sleep before and during hospitalization for cardiac surgery and identify and analyze individual factors in relation to patients perceptions of sleep. METHOD: A sample of 102 patients who underwent elective or emergent cardiac surgery were studied at a 300-bed teaching hospital in the northwestern United States. A few days before their anticipated discharge from the hospital, consenting patients completed questions about their sleep before hospitalization and the night before their interview. RESULTS: Patients reported that they slept fewer hours in the hospital than at home. No differences were found in patients perceived depth and sufficiency of sleep, or refreshment before and after surgery. Patients who slept poorly at home did not report any worse sleep after surgery than patients who slept well at home. Women's perceptions about the sufficiency, refreshment, and quality of sleep were consistent before and after surgery, but no relationships were found among men's ratings. The length of sleep at home was positively related to the length of sleep after surgery in older patients. CONCLUSIONS: Sleep length is related to patients perceptions of sleep after cardiac surgery. Gender and age are also related to qualitative aspects of sleep before and after surgery and can be instrumental in an individualized assessment of sleep patterns anticipated after cardiac surgery.

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