Sleep is Vital

If you or your loved one has spent a night in a hospital, you know firsthand how challenging it can be to get a good night's sleep.

Whether it is fluorescent lighting, the noise or the constant interruptions due to medication administration, vitals, or blood draws, we often hear about these common disruptors of sleep from our patients. While few studies specifically link sleep and patient outcomes, most physicians agree that the connection is obvious:

"Patients need sleep. If they get more of it, they'll likely recover faster."


In addition, the "quietness of the hospital environment" is a patient experience question in the nationally administered HCAHPS survey, so health systems have a keen interest in tackling this important issue from the perspective of value-based purchasing.

The good news is there are several low-hanging fruit solutions that we are implementing at our institution to promote sleep and an optimal healing environment for our patients. Interventions include:

  • Raising awareness of patients who no longer need vital sign checks at night and can sleep through the night
  • Reviewing all interventions (including lab checks, respiratory treatments, and vital signs) that might awaken a patient at night in order to identify opportunities to adjust orders and promote sleep
  • Developing a bedtime checklist for nurses and patient care assistants to assess patients for sleep readiness in the hospital, including turning off the TV and lights and providing ear plugs if necessary