Dexmedetomidine can help reduce duration of mechanical ventilation and number of days in the intensive care unit.

Promotion of rest and sleep in critically ill patients facilitates healing. Multisystem adverse effects of sleep deprivation have been reported.1 Physical activity also plays a pivotal role in recovery and long-term outcomes.2 Use of sedation is important to help achieve the right balance between sleep and wakefulness; the correct balance is essential for incorporating physical activity and patients’ cooperation in the plan of care. Other goals of adequate sedation include optimizing safety for patients and caregivers, facilitating mechanical ventilation, reducing anxiety and delirium, inducing sleep, and, ultimately, providing comfort and safety.3 

Continuous chemical sedation in the intensive care unit (ICU) is commonly used to control respiratory rate and anxiety and thus promote sleep and ultimately optimize care. The sedatives used most often include propofol, midazolam, and lorazepam.4 All 3...

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