30 March 2015

Healthcare professionals crucial in supporting restful sleep for patients

Restful sleep is crucial to an individual’s wellbeing and their recovery when sick, but can in-patient environments support a good night’s sleep on a regular basis?

Good quality sleep is so crucial for individual wellbeing. Short term impacts of a lack of sleep can include impaired cognitive ability while longer term sleep deprivation has been linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even a reduced life expectancy.

We were joined in this chat by the Sleep Council, who shared the 3Rs of good sleep - regular hours, routine and a restful environment.

The nature of a ward is one of bustling activity, regular observations, medication rounds and frequent admissions and discharges. While this is often minimised at night, the constant movement of both patients and staff can disturb those around them.

@MegBetts Pts often disturbed by other pts that req. medical interventions at night, often they state in morning that they didn't sleep well #nurchat

@Taz2be @NurChat being on itu, we try to keep noise to a minimum at night, but with alarms etc it drives the patients mad and also me #nurchat

Many #NurChat participants, including both student and qualified nurses, reported their first-hand experience of being in a ward environment, which highlighted how difficult it was to sleep in an unfamiliar place. Noise, temperature and light levels all caused issues with sleeping.

@punc14anna as a patient I couldn't sleep. Dimmer lighting might of helped. That awful noise of curtains being pulled back isn't great!#nurchat

@sophienurse Me too! As a patient I didn't sleep for days whilst in hospital!

@PUNC14MMills Own experience of being woken for BP, temp and having the ward heating on all night #NurChat

Anxiety and stress can also be an underlying cause of not being able to sleep, and for patients who are in hospital it can be a frightening time. They may be worried about the outcome of their treatment or their ongoing health when they leave hospital. Regular communication and joint decisions are a key aspect of person-centred care, but ensuring patients have the opportunity to discuss their fears and concerns as they arise is also important.

@TheSleepCouncil @NurChat Getting them to talk through any concerns, worries, feelings they have is the 1st step in alleviating stress and worry #NurChat

@PUNC14Rach @NurChat communicating to the patients and allowing them to speak freely about their worries in confidence #nurchat

So, what are the practical steps we can take as healthcare professionals to promote a restful sleeping environments for patients?

  1. Try to maintain a low level of lighting at night. Turn off ceiling lights where possible and dim any other lights without making it too dark to see and work.
  2. If you’re in a ward environment, try to pull curtains only when necessary and as quietly as possible.
  3. Try and reduce any jangling items in your pockets such as keys to keep background noise down.
  4. Talk to patients throughout the day to try and alleviate any stress and worries they have in order to promote relaxation.
  5. Try and promote a bed time routine that mimics their home life so they feel relaxed and able to sleep.
  6. Consider if interventions are absolutely necessary when the patient is sleeping. Can it safely wait?

For patients with dementia, family and friends may be helpful in promoting a calm state of mind so they can be valuable in the evening routine of the individual. One #NurChatter also suggested that the focus should be on promoting sleep rather than getting the person into bed to sleep. If their usual routing is that they sleep in a chair, should they be forced to get into bed?

Join us again on the next #NurChat on 31 Mar when we’ll be looking at the enhance recovery programme for surgical patients and their recovery in the home following their procedure. See you there from 8pm.