Sleep disturbance is commonly encountered amongst intensive care patients and has significant psychophysiological effects, which protract recovery and increases mortality. Bio-physiological monitoring of intensive care patients reveal alterations in sleep architecture, with reduced sleep quality and continuity. The etiological causes of sleep disturbance are considered to be multifactorial, although environmental stressors namely, noise, light and clinical care interactions have been frequently cited in both subjective and objective studies. As a result, interventions are targeted towards modifiable factors to ameliorate their impact. This paper reviews normal sleep physiology and the impact that sleep disturbance has on patient psychophysiological recovery, and the contribution that the clinical environment has on intensive care patients’ sleep.