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How can patients at a hospital practice good sleep hygiene?

An elderly patient using an oxygen mask and sleeping in a hospital bed

The significance of sleep hygiene for patients in hospitals in the UK

One of the frequent complaints that a patient may have after being admitted to a hospital in the UK is how difficult it is to sleep there. In addition to noise and disease, hospitals often have a variety of activities going on that can interfere with patient's ability to sleep. While some hospitals in the UK take steps to guarantee that every patient has a full night of sleep, this is not always the case. Uninterrupted sleep is important for every patient, as it helps in speedy recovery. 

In this article, we will be looking into the various significances of sleep hygiene among patients who are hospitalised in the UK. 

What is sleep hygiene? 

Sleep hygiene is a set of guidelines you adhere to every night to make sure you receive a restful night's sleep. Sleep hygiene practices help a person get to sleep earlier, longer, and get a full night of uninterrupted rest. Good sleep is important, as night-time is when the body is busy repairing itself as well as restoring the energy needed for an individual to function properly. Your tissues are being repaired, your energy is being recovered, and your cells are being replaced. A patient's circadian clock could become out of whack if they don't get enough sleep. Thus, practising good sleep hygiene is important. 

Sleep hygiene is especially important for patients admitted to the hospital in the UK so that they can recover from their illness quickly. However, there are some unavoidable reasons that might require a person admitted to the hospital to be awake at night. 

Why is sleep difficult in a hospital in the UK? 

The very nature of the hospital can make sleep especially challenging. You are attempting to fall asleep on a pillow and bed that isn't your own, which will effect sleep hygiene. Certain sleeping patterns, such as sleeping on the stomach, are not recommended, as beds are designed for a patient to sleep on their back. Moving or turning is more challenging when tethered to an IV pump or tangled in wires. 

Certain drugs and care may need to be given during the night, depending on when the patient's initial dose was given. Blood samples must be taken in the middle of the night to assess the levels of specific antibiotics and dosage. If a person is admitted to be checked for a heart attack, it is conceivable that timed blood tests, which may entail having your blood drawn late at night, will be required. Vital indicators like pulse and blood pressure need to be checked every four hours for some conditions, which also makes the patient awake. 

According to a study, vital signs and tests, noise, and medications are the main reasons patients stay awake. Hospitals are open 24*7 with hospital routines being carried out. Studies have also shown that hospital routines can disrupt patient sleep and have a designated quiet time where nonessential tasks such as lights and noise are minimised. The IV pumps, monitors, and other equipment beep and chirp. There are beds rolling down the hallways and elevators chiming, which can interrupt the sleep of patients. 

In the UK, a hospitalised patient on steroids, for example, may experience insomnia and irritability despite being weary. Other drugs may also contribute to sleeplessness. 

11 Tips for better sleep hygiene for the patient in the UK 

Here are some of the tips to improve sleep hygiene for a patient in a hospital in the UK: 

1. Bring a pillow and blanket:  

If a patient is very particular about their bedding or pillow, they can always bring their own, which will dramatically improve their quality of sleep. Packing for a comfortable hospital stay can make a huge difference in a patient's comfort and recovery. 

2. Avoid sleeping during the daytime: 

Avoid taking long hours of sleep during the daytime; instead, encourage a patient to take short naps in case they are exhausted so that they can sleep through the night. This will improve sleep hygiene and ensure uninterrupted sleep at night. 

3. Close the door to a patient's room: 

Unless a patient is in the ICU, closing a door is usually not an issue and can significantly lessen noise from the hallways and adjacent rooms, improving sleep hygiene. 

4. Use earplugs: 

In cases where a patient is a light sleeper and closing a door is not enough, wearing earplugs may be just as useful to tune out the ambient hospital noise and get some well-deserved rest. 

5. Use white noise: 

If a patient is still struggling with noise, many smartphones offer free white noise applications that can help mask the sounds of the hospital. Others prefer to use the television, music, or even a fan to drown out outside sounds. For this purpose, most hospitals will gladly offer you a fan, especially if it helps you feel more relaxed and recover more quickly. 

6. Request no visitors in the late evening or early morning: 

If a patient is having trouble sleeping when they have company, make sure to not have visitors when they are trying to take a rest. Some people find it comforting to be with family and friends, while others find it difficult to take a rest when in company. 

7. Use a sleeping mask: 

Sometimes using an eye mask to block all the lights from the hallway or outside the window can help a patient get proper rest without interrupting their sleep. This will help to improve their sleep pattern and build sleep hygiene. 

8. Adjust the temperature: 

Most healthcare facilities in the UK provide temperature control in individual rooms so that patients can control the temperature to their liking. For patients, this is beneficial because it is simpler to add a blanket or two than it is to become overheated and wait for the room to cool down. 

9. Avoid caffeine: 

Nurses and other healthcare professionals in the UK should advise every patient to abstain from caffeine four to six hours before bedtime. This is another important piece of sleep hygiene that every patient should follow. 

10. Ask for medications that keep you awake to be rescheduled: 

Some medications won’t be able to be given at a different time, but some will. If a patient is given a daily dose of steroids that keep them awake at night, your GP reschedules it for the morning so that the energising effects will be worn off largely by bedtime. This is another important aspect to consider for sleep hygiene. 

11. Pain relievers at night: 

Pain is easy to control before it gets worse, and a patient can ask their healthcare professional to give pain relievers at bedtime even if their pain is not yet severe. This will enable a patient to develop good sleep hygiene. 

These are just some of the tips a patient can follow to develop good sleep hygiene while staying in a hospital in the UK. 

Leading nursing staffing company Nurses Group has highly skilled and knowledgeable employees in Yeovil, UK. Our staff is aware of the value of excellent sleep hygiene and assists and motivates patients to do the same. Patients who receive proper rest will heal more quickly if sleep hygiene is encouraged.

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