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ICU patients 'should wear earplugs'

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Earplugs and eye masks should be given to patients in intensive care wards to help them get a better night’s sleep and aid their recovery, researchers have said.

There has been a link between patients spending extra time on ventilators if their sleep has been affected by noise from machines and members of staff, thus affecting their recovery, according to researchers in China.

Patients are less likely to wake in the night if they are wearing earplugs and eye masks, according to a study.

When the items are worn, levels of the sleep hormone melatonin were found to increase.

Furthermore, people report feeling better about their quality of sleep and are less aware of their surroundings than before.

The study on 14 healthy people was carried out at Fujian Medical University in China and published in the journal Critical Care.

Researcher Xiaoying Jiang exposed people to recordings of intensive care noise and equivalent levels of light for four nine-hour periods.

Two noisy nights were analysed for the trial - one without eye masks and earplugs and one with.

She said: “Sleep disruption is common in intensive care unit patients and has been associated with impaired immune function, decreased inspiratory muscle endurance, extended mechanical ventilation, delirium and severe morbidity.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I like your articles based on research however they often lack from referring to the original papers or articles or references seem to be not well exposed. Giving simple DOI (Digital Object Identifier) under your article would be useful for readers and IMHO would increase the value of your articles. I believe readers could even discuss the subject bringing more evidence in favour or against some practices or standards. What do you think?

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  • I think not only for the benefits of sleep deprivation but they say hearing is the last sense to go.
    If ventilated patients hear horror stories of how stretched the staff are it must be greatly disturbing for them when they cant do anything about it. so I think ear plugs are a great idea.
    I remember asking the nurse to dim the lights when my sister was an inpatient cos they were so bright but unfortunatly she didnt make it.

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