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INTRODUCTION: Insomnia frequently occurs in patients admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). Sleep-promoting agents may reduce rapid eye movement sleep and have deliriogenic effects. Suvorexant (Belsomra) is an orexin receptor antagonist with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the treatment of adult insomnia, which improves sleep onset and maintenance as well as subjective measures of quality of sleep. This trial will evaluate the efficacy of postoperative oral suvorexant treatment on night-time wakefulness after persistent sleep onset as well as the incidence and duration of delirium among adult cardiac surgical patients. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: In this single-centre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we will enrol 120 patients, aged 60 years or older, undergoing elective cardiac surgery with planned postoperative admission to the ICU. Participants will be randomised to receive oral suvorexant (20 mg) or placebo one time a day starting the night after extubation. The primary outcome will be wakefulness after persistent sleep onset. The secondary outcome will be total sleep time. Exploratory outcomes will include time to sleep onset, incidence of postoperative in-hospital delirium, number of delirium-free days and subjective sleep quality. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethics approval was obtained through the 'Committee on Clinical Investigations' at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (protocol number 2019P000759). The findings will be published in peer-reviewed journals. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: This trial has been registered at on 17 September 2019 (NCT04092894).

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





anaesthetics, cardiac surgery, clinical trials, delirium & cognitive disorders, sleep medicine