One night you can manage but after a few nights short of sleep you feel jaded and don’t think and respond as well as you would like.
Sleep is important and even more so when you are ill. A recent study found that patients with heart failure who had a history of sleeping badly had a doubled risk of being admitted to hospital compared to those with a normal sleep pattern.
This Swedish study presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting earlier this month concluded that we should be asking patients more about how they sleep as it is an important part of their recovery. Those identified as bad sleepers need to have the reasons explored and help with sleep hygiene including how they prepare to sleep. Otherwise poor sleeping may be linked to stress or worry or to medication, issues which can be addressed
As well as asking patients about their sleep history, nurses can help patients in hospital to sleep as well as they can with many small but effective measures. Making sure that wards are kept quiet, that staff talk and walk softly, that visitors to the ward are respectful of patients’ rest, and that patients are left to sleep in if they can and want to. Most people would not get up at 6am every morning so why would they want to do it in hospital? This study confirms that poor sleep hampers recovery. We all know the importance of sleep – let’s make sure we act on it.