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How To Sleep Well in a Hospital

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Updated April 24, 2008

We know that sleep is important to healing and that the sleep patients get in hospitals is usually poor. If you're going to be admitted, plan ahead so you can get the rest you need. Use these simple tips to improve your sleep while recovering from an illness or medical procedure -- you may find that you heal faster and even get out of the hospital a bit early.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: N/A

Here's How:

  1. Make it Dark
    A dark room will encourage your body to go into a deep sleep. The monitors and other lights in a typical hospital room give off too much light for you to rest easily. Find a good sleep mask to wear during the night. This will increase your chances of achieving deep, restorative sleep that can help speed your healing time.
  2. Mask Noise
    Hospital rooms are noisy, especially if you have a roommate. Get an MP3 player and download some white noise (a type of noise that sounds like static and muffles other noise), or purchase a soft pair of earplugs. Use them as needed, especially during the day when the halls are buzzing and you'd like to take a nap.
  3. Get Some Light
    During the day, especially in the morning, try to get some exposure to light. If you can walk or use a wheelchair, go outside or to the window, if possible. Ask that the curtains be opened. Getting daylight exposure will help your body know what time of day it is. This will allow you to sleep better at night.
  4. Talk to the Staff
    Tell you nurses and doctors that you really want to make sleep a priority. Ask them to disturb you as few times as possible during the night. They will do what they can to help you get your sleep.
  5. Be Calm
    Your brain won’t go into a deep sleep if you are stressed. Just being in the hospital and away from home is stressful enough to interfere with sleep. Counter that stress by staying calm, trying not to worry and reminding yourself that you are in a very safe place.

    More About Sleep in Hospitals and the ICU

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