Barriers to sleep in acute hospital settings

Chuan T. Foo, Denise M. O’Driscoll, Rowan P. Ogeil, Dan Lubman, Alan C. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study aimed to examine the environmental and operational factors that disrupt sleep in the acute, non-ICU hospital setting. Design, setting and participants: This was a prospective study of adult patients admitted to an acute tertiary hospital ward (shared versus single room) and sleep laboratory (single room conducive to sleep). Main outcome measures: This study measured ambient light (lux) and sound (dB), number of operational interruptions, and questionnaires assessing sleep and mental health. Results: Sixty patients were enrolled, 20 in a double bedroom located close to the nursing station (‘shared ward’), 20 in a single bedroom located distant to the nursing station (‘single ward’) and 20 attending the sleep laboratory for overnight polysomnography (‘sleep laboratory’). Sleep was disturbed in 45% of patients in the shared and single ward groups (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index > 5). Light levels were appropriately low across all 3 locations. Sound levels (significant effect of room F(1.38) = 6.452, p = 0.015) and operational interruptions (shared ward 5.6 ± 2.5, single ward 6.2 ± 2.9, sleep laboratory 2.7 ± 2.1 per night, p < 0.05 wards compared to sleep laboratory) were higher in the shared and single ward group compared to the sleep laboratory but not compared to each other. Noise was rated as the greatest environmental disturbance by 70% of ward patients compared to 10% in the sleep laboratory. Conclusion: Higher noise levels and frequent operational interruptions are potential barriers to sleep and recovery on an acute medical ward which are not ameliorated by being in a single bedroom located distant to the nursing station

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855–863
Number of pages9
JournalSleep and Breathing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • Hospitals
  • Light
  • Noise
  • Operational interruptions
  • Sleep quality

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