Send to

Choose Destination
Scand J Caring Sci. 2019 Mar 13. doi: 10.1111/scs.12672. [Epub ahead of print]

Sleepless nights and sleepy days: a qualitative study exploring the experiences of patients with chronic heart failure and newly verified sleep-disordered breathing.

Author information

Department of Cardiology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.
Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, Norway.
Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway.
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway.
Department of Heart Disease, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden.
Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Linköping University Hospital, Linköping, Sweden.



Sleep-disordered breathing, including obstructive sleep apnoea and central sleep apnoea, is a common disorder among patients with chronic heart failure. Obstructive sleep apnoea is often treated with continuous positive airway pressure, but central sleep apnoea lacks a clear treatment option. Knowledge of how sleep-disordered breathing is experienced (e.g. difficulties and care needs) and handled (e.g. self-care actions) by the patients is limited, but needed, to provide patient-centred care.


To explore how newly verified sleep-disordered breathing is experienced by patients with chronic heart failure.


Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and analysed with qualitative content analysis. Seventeen participants (14 men, three women), mean age 60 years (range 41-80) diagnosed with chronic heart failure and objectively verified sleep-disordered breathing (nine obstructive, seven central and one mixed) were strategically selected from heart failure outpatient clinics at two Norwegian university hospitals.


Patients with chronic heart failure and newly verified sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) described experiences of poor sleep that had consequences for their daily life and their partners. Different self-care strategies were revealed, but they were based on 'common sense' and were not evidence-based. The awareness of having SDB was varied; for some, it gave an explanation to their trouble while others were surprised by the finding.


Patients with chronic heart failure and sleep-disordered breathing experienced reduced sleep quality, influencing their daily life. Possible underlying causes of disrupted sleep, such as sleep-disordered breathing, should be identified to establish proper patient-centred treatment strategies. There is a need for new strategies to approach patients with chronic heart failure (i.e. those with central sleep apnoea) who are not subject to continuous positive airway pressure treatment for their sleep-disordered breathing.


chronic heart failure; patient experience; qualitative content analysis; sleep apnoea; sleep-disordered breathing


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center