The effects of handling on the sleep of preterm infants
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Objective: Identify the types of handling procedures performed on preterm infants and assess their influence on total sleep time, wake time and the objective sleep variables. Methods: Observational and correlational study conducted in the neonatal unit of a teaching hospital. The sample was made up of 12 preterm infants who met the inclusion and exclusion criteria established for the study. Data were collected from March 2013 to April 2014, by means of polysomnography, filming and observation for 24 uninterrupted hours. Descriptive statistics, the Friedman test, Pearson's correlation and linear regression, with significant values of p <= 0.05, were used. Results: The preterm infants studied were predominantly late preterm, female, with low birth weight, and a mean chronological age of 14 days. The newborns were handled an average of 176.4 (+/- 37.9) times during a 24-hour period; 58% of the handling procedures were for monitoring. The proportion of total sleep time was 57.2% in 24 hours. There was no statistically significant correlation between frequency and duration of direct and ambient handling and the sleep of preterm infants in a 24-hour period. Single handling procedures had a strong positive correlation with wake time. Conclusion: Handling was related to monitoring, therapeutic/diagnostic and hygiene/comfort, with a prevalence of direct, single handling procedures. No statistically significant influence on the objective sleep variables was identified, except for single handling procedures where there was a correlation with wake time.