Paediatric patients lose sleep in noisy wards

Sick children lose more than an hour’s sleep per night on noisy hospital wards, according to new UK research, which suggests it could harm their recovery. It has been found that when children lose sleep in hospital, their pain threshold is lower, they are more emotional and may have lowered immune defences.

The study carried out at Southampton Children’s Hospital found that the noise on paediatric medical wards exceeded the 30-decibel maximum recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and was significantly louder than in their bedrooms at home. They noted that this problem had come to light despite the fact that reducing noise at night in hospitals was a key performance target for NHS trusts.

Ivan Moody says…
“We’re pleased to note that Southampton Children’s Hospital has now implemented various steps to alleviate this problem, including an “8 is late” policy, whereby the lights are dimmed at 8pm and a flag is raised on each ward to remind everyone about bedtime, the end of visiting hours for the day, and the need to switch off electronic entertainment or use headphones. They also use red torches to check on children at night rather than bright white lights. We would encourage other hospitals to implement the changes incorporated”.

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