Patient experiences of sleep in dialysis: systematic review of qualitative studies

Elaine Cheng, Nicole Evangelidis, Chandana Guha, Camilla S. Hanson, Mark Unruh, Martin Wilkie, Jane Schell, Manfred Hecking, Andrea Matus Gonzalez, Angela Ju, Danny J. Eckert, Jonathan C. Craig, Allison Tong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale and objective: Sleep problems affect more than half of patients receiving dialysis and are associated with increased risk of mortality, cardiovascular events, depression and impaired functioning and quality of life. Symptoms such as fatigue and exhaustion may be attributed to sleep problems or sleep disorders, as well as the burden of kidney disease and treatment. This study aims to describe the patient perspectives on the reasons, impact and management of sleep problems in dialysis. Study design: Systematic review and thematic synthesis of qualitative studies that report patient experience and perspectives on sleep in dialysis. Setting and population: Patients receiving dialysis. Search strategy and sources: MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, reference lists and PhD dissertations were searched from inception to August 2019. Data extraction: All text from the results/conclusion of the primary studies. Analytical approach: Thematic synthesis. Results: We included 48 studies involving 1156 participants from 16 countries. We identified six themes: dominating demands of treatment (with subthemes of: demanding and relentless schedule, regret for wasted time); scheduling and control (managing sleep routines, napping and nocturnal sleep disruption, meditative aids); disruptions due to dialysis (unsettled sleep, hypervigilance and worry); symptoms depriving sleep (difficulty falling asleep, constant waking); overwhelmed and without choice (futility of sleep, uncontrollable exhaustion, restlessness is irrepressible); and as a coping mechanism (avoiding anxiety, alleviating symptoms, combating boredom). Limitations: Most studies were conducted in high-income, English-speaking countries. Conclusion: The treatment and symptom burden of dialysis disrupts and deprives patients of sleep, which leads to overwhelming and uncontrollable exhaustion. Better management of symptoms and effective strategies to manage sleep routines may improve sleep quality for better overall health in patients receiving dialysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-76
Number of pages11
JournalSleep Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Dialysis
  • Outcomes
  • Patient-centered care
  • Qualitative research
  • Sleep


Dive into the research topics of 'Patient experiences of sleep in dialysis: systematic review of qualitative studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this