Saturday, March 7, 2020

oxygen & sleep in ICU

Q: Low level of supplemental oxygen in ICU may promote sleep?

A) True
B) False

Answer:  A

Oxygen is known to have anxiolytic and anti-dyspneic effects. This leads some experts to believe that a low level of supplemental oxygen may be beneficial in ICU to promote sleep, particularly sleep-deprived patients. Human sleep is sustained via a drive to breathe in reticular activating system and metabolic control mechanisms. Supplemental oxygen may cause loss of the drive to breathe associated with reticular activating system.

Though in few patients it may also cause clinically significant hypercarbia.



1. Robert L Owens Supplemental Oxygen Needs During Sleep. Who Benefits? Respiratory Care January 2013, 58 (1) 32-47; DOI:

2. Malhotra A, Schwartz DR, Ayas N, et al. Treatment of oxygen-induced hypercapnia. Lancet 2001; 357:884. 

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