Hospitals taking simple steps to improve ICU sleep

With research evidence mounting that good sleep is critical to healing, hospitals are beginning to do more to foster sleep for their sickest patients. While technology solves many problems--particularly in the ICU--it's taking old-fashioned, hands-on work to address patient sleep deprivation.

Ordinarily, ICUs are noisy places, and patients are seldom left alone long enough to slip into deep slumber. In fact, according to one study, critical-care patients are seldom left alone for even two hours. This, of course, means that patients are sleep-deprived, as they never get into REM sleep.

Increasingly, critical care nurses are adopting such common-sense approaches as eye masks, dim lights and backrubs to foster the restful sleep very sick patients need. They're also asking patients' families what their sleep routines are in an effort to foster normal sleep. What's more, hospitals are trying harder to schedule several types of care for a single visit to minimize night-time interruptions.

To learn more about this issue:
- read this USA Today piece

Related Articles:
Study: Lack of sleep hurts ICU patients. Report
Hospital opens up ICU rooms to families. Report