Dire Health Reasons Why Hospitals Must Do Better at Letting Patients Sleep

Constant disruptions are more than just frustrating for tired patients.

Hospitals need to weigh the pros and cons of constantly waking patients in recovery.
Getty Images

Part of the point of hospitals is to be a place where the sick can go to heal — so why, then, is it so hard to get some rest?

That was the question posed by The New York Times in a recent look at what happens to a sick or injured and sleep-deprived body.

Hospitals have too much noise, lights and constant check-ins for most people to get any decent sleep. Sure, the Times acknowledges, patients in intensive care need to have their vitals monitored regularly, but little to no distinction is made between those who need consistent attention and those who can be left alone.

“Not an hour went by without some kind of disruption,” a Duke University doctor who also experienced being a patient recovering from surgery told the news paper. “It’s a terrible way to start recovery.”

But it’s much more than annoying, sleep deprived people can suffer from hampered immune systems, delirium, hypertension and mood disorders, which can all contribute to “posthospital syndrome” — a vulnerable period when many health problems can arise.

“In addressing a patient’s acute illness, we may inadvertently be causing harm by ignoring the important restorative powers of a healing environment,” Yale University physician Harlan Krumholz said. “The key to a successful recovery after illness may be a less stressful, more supportive, more humane experience during the hospitalization.”

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.