Document Type

DNP Project


School of Nursing

Date of Degree

Spring 2020


Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Primary Advisor

Qiuping (Pearl) Zhou, PhD, RN; Joanne Jarboe-Costello DNP, RN-BC, CPN


Background: Intensive Care Units (ICU) are noisy environments that hinder sleep. Sleep disruption may have negative affects in ICU patients’ recovery.

Aims/Objectives The aim was to determine the feasibility, patient’s comfort level, and the effects of ear plugs, eye masks, and limiting nursing interventions on self-reported sleep quality during ICU stay.

Methods: This quality improvement project was conducted in a community hospital using a quasi-experimental design. Patients in the intervention group wore earplugs and eye masks with limited nursing interventions during nighttime hours compared to patients in the control group who received routine care. Patients subjective sleep quality was measured using a validated sleep scale and open-ended questions were used to assess factors that effected sleep.

Results: 38 patients (21 in the control group, and 17 in the intervention group) participated in the project. No statistically significant differences were found between groups. However, the effect sizes were moderate for several sleep items, showing that patients in the intervention group reported higher quality of sleep than those in the control group. Patients reported that ear plugs, and eye masks were comfortable and improved their sleep. Both groups reported that noise, equipment, and nursing intervention were factors that hindered their sleep.

Conclusion: Our study demonstrated that non-pharmacological interventions had a clinically meaningful, moderate effects in improving ICU patients’ sleep in the first 24-48 hours. Using ear plugs and eye masks, and controlling environmental noise are low-cost strategies that can improve sleep in ICU patients

Open Access


Available for download on Friday, October 15, 2021