Once I graduated from nursing school, I started night shift work in a hospital. Hospitals do not facilitate sleep. Ironically, without sleep, most humans struggle to get better.
Patients often require medicines around the clock and on schedule in order to get better. Lights and noise for around-the-clock care make it impossible to get much-needed rest. Over the years, I learned a few tricks to promote rest for patients while making sure that my patients received the treatment they required.
Do Not Disturb
Ask your nurse to place a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door during the day. Hospitals have become very concerned with hospitality and customer service in recent years. Because of this new mentality, patients will likely have visits from food services, facilities and other management throughout the day. The visits are well-meaning to make sure a patient is receiving excellent service, but the visits can be very disruptive to a sick patient.
I gave birth to my second child late at night and neglected to make a “Do Not Disturb” request of my nurse for the following day. I had a supervisor from food services visit my room after every meal, a photographer to schedule pictures of our new baby and janitorial services to check on room cleanliness. In addition, I experienced necessary visits from my physician, pediatrician, nurses and other medical staff. For the rest of my hospital stay, I requested that my nurse stop any visits that were not absolutely necessary. Without constant interruptions, I could focus on my newborn and resting.
It is necessary to note, that there are some room interruptions that cannot be avoided during a hospital stay. Medical tests cannot be postponed for the sake of a nap. Hospitals and insurance companies cannot justify hospital stays if patients refuse a recommended treatment, but there are certainly interruptions that are not necessary to a patient’s care that can be eliminated.
Hospitals are complicated, busy and fast-paced. Hospital personnel, physicians and nurses are accustomed to the confusion, lingo and pace and often forget that patients are not accustomed to the same environment.
As a patient, I am much calmer if I know what to expect of procedures and my stay. If I am left in a quiet room with no explanation of what is to come next, my anxiety rises. I witnessed similar anxiety first hand with my patients over-and-over again. Ask a nurse or physician to stop and explain upcoming procedures and plans for your day. In addition, ask about medications and anything else you do not understand to reduce any anxiety.
Nurses and staff can easily be robotic about how they operate. Nurses may seem to always move in a hurried frantic pace from one patient to another. It is easy for a nurse to forget simple comforts. It is okay for patients and families to request that room lights be dimmed, doors are shut for noise reduction and other comfort measures be provided.
Hospitals often have warmed blankets and hospitality kitchens with ice, coffee, snacks and more. Hospitals have extra pillows and blankets if needed.