by Dr. David Lyness & Mark Dornan
Lack of sleep is a major problem in hospitals across the world. Hospitals are NOT quiet places; we all know this. Working together we can help patients get better sleep in order that they might have better outcomes, better hospital experiences, more energy and less complications during their stay.
I would have to say, I am a massive advocate of the eye masks and ear plugs. They are cheap, simple interventions that can be supplied by the ward or bought by patients for a nominal fee. Wholesale, these can be bough for pence and likely reduce vastly more costly complications associated with sleep deprivation. The caveat being, they can really only be used by patients who are well enough to take them off (this is common sense).
It's also a strange practice to give patients caffeinated drinks before bed-time. Coffee & Tea are both caffeinated and stimulate an awake state. Decaf options should be available for the patients who 'cannot cope' without a bed-time cuppa! Fruit-like 'herbal' teas should also be brought in by patients or supplied by the ward. It is furthermore an even stranger practice to give people caffeinated drinks along with their insomnia medications like zopiclone etc. Red Bull and other highly caffeinated drinks such as coke, lucozade and sports drinks really should be limited too.
Mark also raises the excellent point of caffeinated drinks and continence in the elderly. Caffeine drinks further disturb sleep by increasing the production of urine and therefore frequency of micturition - waking patients up to urinate further deteriorates sleep quality.
Considerate nursing and medical practice is key to helping patients sleep well.
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