Study: Hospital Noise Disrupts Sleep

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Hospital sounds disrupt patients' sleep, according to a study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers conducted a three-day polysomnographic study in a sound-attenuated sleep laboratory with 12 healthy participants. Researchers introduced 14 common hospital sounds during specific stages of sleep for two nights. Some of the sounds included those from voice, an intravenous alarm, a phone, an ice machine, outside traffic and a helicopter. Encephalographic, or cortical, arousals were measured.


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The researchers found large differences in responses by sound type. For example, electronic sounds were more arousing than other sounds, such as voice. In addition, sounds in non-REM stage two were more likely to cause arousals than sounds in non-REM stage three.

The authors suggested improving hospitals' acoustic environments can improve the quality of care.

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