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You'll Be Able to Rest in the Hospital ... Really?

By Jody Smith HERWriter
 
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You'll Be Able to Rest in the Hospital ... Really? 0 5
sleep in the hospital ... oh really?
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Ever heard the fairy tale when you've been in the hospital that being there will help you to rest and recover? Did you ever find that to be true?

I remember being told this after having a baby, and I wondered at the time why someone would say that. I was eager to get back home to a household of small children, knowing I would get more and better rest there than in the hospital.

A study from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and Cambridge Health Alliance, struck a chord with me for this reason.

Research indicated that the usual noises in a hospital could be disruptive to sleep, possibly having a less than restful effect on cardiovascular and brain activity.

Orfeu Buxton, PhD, BWH Division of Sleep Medicine, co-lead study author, used the term "noise-polluted" in describing a hospital setting.

Twelve healthy participants took part in a three-day study in a sleep laboratory. Everyone slept well the first night.

During the other two nights, 14 recorded sounds -- an intravenous alarm, a helicopter, an ice machine, a telephone, outside traffic and voices in the hallway-- were allowed to infiltrate their sleep. These sounds got progressively louder throughout particular stages of sleep.

Loud noises were disruptive. No surprise there. However, it was also found that some sounds were even more disruptive even when they were very quiet. This was the case with electronic sounds.

It was seen that the stage of sleep played a part in determining which aspects of sound made an impression on the sleeper as well.

For instance, the type of sound made the most impact on those in non-rapid eye movement or NREM sleep. Volume of sound had the greatest effect during rapid eye movement or REM sleep.

Heart rate was affected by noise, even sounds that are so low as to be below conscious awareness. Heart rate was only mildly affected, but researchers speculate that disruptions that happen repeatedly as is the case in a hospital, can be a risk factor for people who are already at less than optimal health.

Add a Comment1 Comments

Lynda F

Good article. However, based on my own personal experience with a couple of surgeries, I find the most sleep disruptive thing (and it isn't even mentioned) is nurses coming into the room all night long, to take blood pressure, temperature, check IV bags, etc. I understand they need to do that, but that does not give the patient a good restful sleep, and I feel is the number 1 cause of nighttime disruptions. Most of the general noises I could adapt to and sleep through, but the constantly being awakened every 2 hours to check on something was very disruptive, as most times I couldn't drop right back off to sleep. I was so grateful to get home so I could get some real rest....LOL

February 26, 2013 - 10:35am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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