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Hospital Sleep Stinks!

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Hospital sleep stinks. That is to say, trying to get a decent night’s sleep is almost impossible in most hospitals. Ironically, sleep is central to the body’s ability to heal. As is nutrition and exercise.

The article linked and excerpted below is near and dear to my own medical history. I spent 21 days in the hospital undergoing an autologous stem cell procedure.

Everything, every reason mentioned in the article about sleep interruptions (hospital sleep stinks!) applied to my own hospital stay in December of 1995. I have added lousy food and lack of even moderate exercise because research documents the importance of each to human healing.

Why is sleep so important to human beings? Why does is matter that hospital sleep stinks anyway?

1. Physical Health

  • Restoration and Healing: Sleep helps the body repair and regenerate tissues, build muscle, and synthesize proteins. It also supports the immune system, allowing it to fight infections and diseases more effectively.
  • Heart Health: Adequate sleep is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and diabetes. During sleep, blood pressure drops, which gives the heart a chance to rest.
  • Hormonal Balance: Sleep regulates the production of various hormones, including those that control appetite (leptin and ghrelin), growth (growth hormone), and stress (cortisol). Disruptions in sleep can lead to hormonal imbalances, affecting overall health.

2. Cognitive Function

  • Memory Consolidation: Sleep plays a critical role in consolidating memories and processing information. During sleep, particularly during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage, the brain processes and organizes information from the day, helping with learning and memory retention.
  • Focus and Productivity: Adequate sleep enhances attention, problem-solving skills, creativity, and decision-making abilities. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, impairs these cognitive functions, leading to decreased productivity and increased errors.

3. Mental Health

  • Emotional Regulation: Sleep helps regulate emotions by processing emotional experiences and reducing stress. Lack of sleep can contribute to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
  • Mental Clarity and Mood: A good night’s sleep promotes a positive mood and mental clarity. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, mood swings, and even severe psychiatric conditions.

4. Performance and Safety

  • Physical Performance: For athletes and physically active individuals, sleep is essential for optimal performance. It enhances motor skills, reaction times, and endurance.
  • Safety: Sleep deprivation increases the risk of accidents and injuries, both at work and while driving. Fatigue can impair judgment and slow reaction times, making it dangerous to operate machinery or drive.

5. Overall Quality of Life

  • Energy Levels: Sufficient sleep boosts energy levels, making it easier to engage in daily activities and enjoy life.
  • Longevity: Studies have shown that consistent, quality sleep is linked to a longer life span. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with various health risks that can shorten life expectancy.

PeopleBeatingCancer’s goal, about blogging anyway, is to document a problem for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers, and then offer possible therapies or fixes in this case. And let’s be honest, if you are about to spend time in a hospital, a good night’s sleep is probably the last thing you are thinking about.

If you are about to enter the hospital, assume that hospital sleep stinks and that you must take steps to get a decent amount of sleep each night. Consider:

  • ear plugs
  • natural sleep aids such as melatonin or CBD oil
  • reading material- anything to tire you out at the end of the day
  • chamomile tea at dinner
  • walking the halls if you are allowed- this will address the exercise issue as well as tire you out

As always, check with your doctor. Who knows? Maybe CBD oil interferes with a medication you are taking?

Are you a newly diagnosed cancer patient? Are you about to spend some time in a hospital? Email me at David.PeopleBeatingCancer@gmail.com

Good luck,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

The Hospital Is an Enemy of Sleep

Studying Hospital Sleep

Sleep in the hospital is poor. A meta-analysis from 2022 that examined 203 studies showed that the average total sleep time for hospitalized patients varies significantly between age groups. Children and adolescents sleep an average of about 7.8 hours per night, while adults and older adults manage to sleep only 5.6 and 5.8 hours, respectively.

A substantial majority of studies, approximately 76% of those examined, reported sleep duration below the average considered healthy. Almost half of the studies indicated that adults slept less than 6 hours per night: A threshold commonly associated with adverse health outcomes. Furthermore, patients frequently experience numerous nocturnal awakenings (up to 42 times per night) and prolonged awakenings after sleep onset of over 105 minutes…

Noise: The Main Problem

The primary reason that patients in the hospital do not sleep is because they are unwell. Pain or medication effects often reduce sleep quality and quantity. Psychological stress resulting from anxiety about health problems, the unfamiliar hospital environment, disruption of routine, or reduced personal autonomy also significantly contributes to sleep degradation…

Not surprisingly, several studies have shown a correlation between the number of sound peaks in a hospital setting and the number of patient awakenings during sleep. One of these studies attributed 20% of sleep awakenings to noise level peaks, while another indicated that environmental noise caused 11.5% of interruptions and 17% of awakenings. The average noise level in hospitals could also play a crucial role…





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