Most patients have sleep issues in hospital, but most don't tell staff, study finds

More than two-thirds of hospitalized patients said their sleep was disturbed by external causes, but only 36 percent of them alerted hospital staff, a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

Five things to know:

1. Researchers analyzed data from about 2,000 adults who spent a night at one of 39 hospitals in the Netherlands. The majority of patients were at least 68 years old, and most of them had been in the hospital for more than the one night of the study.

2. Patients slept an average of 83 minutes less during their night in the hospital than they typically did at home. They also woke up an average of 44 minutes earlier in the morning. 

3. "The most reported sleep-disturbing factors were noise of other patients, medical devices, pain and toilet visits," the researchers wrote. 

4. However, physicians, nurses and noises were not the only things patients blamed for their lack of sleep.

"Patients could not sleep because they were, for example, worried about their spouse who is demented and who is home alone, or about their dog or other pets, or they were worried about whether they could attend the upcoming wedding of their daughter," senior study author Dr. Prabath Nanayakkara told Reuters. "Most of the time they had not spoken to the hospital staff about this." 

5. The findings demonstrate a number of hospital-related factors that could be changed to improve sleep for hospitalized patients, the researchers said. "Raising awareness about the importance of adequate sleep in the vulnerable hospital population and introducing interventions to target sleep-disturbing factors may improve healing," the researchers concluded.

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