Sleeping characteristics of children undergoing outpatient elective surgery.
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BACKGROUND: A significant number of children undergoing anesthesia and surgery exhibit new-onset sleep-related problems postoperatively. The aim of this longitudinal cohort study was to expand previous research in this area by using a new objective technology. METHODS: This study compared children undergoing general anesthesia and outpatient surgery (n = 92) to a community-based control group of children (n = 77). Data regarding coping, temperament, anxiety, surgical procedures, and postoperative pain were collected. Subjects underwent actigraphy sleep monitoring for at least 3 nights before surgery and 5 postoperative days (POD). Sleep assessment was performed with actigraphy sleep monitoring and the Post Hospitalization Behavioral Questionnaire (PHBQ). RESULTS: Forty-three children (47%) in the surgery group experienced postoperative sleeping disturbances as determined by either the actigraphy or the PHBQ. Only 13 children (14.4%), however, experienced a decrease of at least 1 SD in percentage sleep as assessed by actigraphy. Postoperative pain scores on POD 1 and POD 2 were significantly higher among children who exhibited sleep problems as diagnosed by actigraphy (F = 4.283; P= 0.047). Also, children who exhibited actigraph-based sleep problems scored lower sociability-temperament (14.1 +/- 4.3 vs. 17.5 +/- 3.4; P= 0.04) scores compared with the community group and had a higher rate of change in their perioperative anxiety levels (group x time interaction, F = 5.1; P= 0.03). CONCLUSION: A significant number of children undergoing outpatient surgery experience postoperative sleep-related problems. The clinical significance of this finding, however, is unclear.