Impaired health-related quality of life after critical illness has been demonstrated in a number of studies. It is not clear exactly how or why critical illness and intensive care lead to impaired health status, but understanding this association is an important step to improving long-term outcomes of the critically ill. There is growing evidence that neuro-psychological symptoms play a significant role in this impairment and that management of patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) may influence these symptoms. This commentary examines a recent study and places this study in the context of previous studies suggesting that both amnesia and persisting nightmares of the ICU experience are associated with impaired quality of life. Further research is needed if we are effectively to understand, prevent and treat the negative sequelae of critical illness.