Sleep is almost as important as medical care when it comes to recovering from an illness or medical procedure. Unfortunately, patients often find it challenging to get a restful night’s sleep at a hospital that operates around the clock.
“You take someone who isn’t feeling well and put them in a foreign environment with strange sounds and interruptions. It’s no surprise that sleep is elusive,” says Karen Grimley, PhD, chief nursing executive for UCLA Health.
To improve patients’ slumber, all UCLA hospitals implemented a new sleep initiative in May called U Sleep. “Our goal is to improve the patient experience by providing a more restful environment,” says Myke Federman, MD, medical director of the cardiothoracic pediatric intensive care unit at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.
U Sleep builds on informal hospital practices already in place. A committee comprising clinicians and nurses compiled best practices from various units to develop a formalized system-wide sleep protocol. “One of the first steps we took was promoting quiet hours from 10 pm to 6 am in all units,” says Dr. Federman. Following an announcement that quiet hours are starting, lights are dimmed throughout the hospital to serve as a visual reminder that patients are resting.
Staff and visitors are asked to speak softly, limit conversations outside of patients’ rooms and silence phones.
Additional sleep-promoting practices will be implemented throughout the year. “We’re working with nutrition and pharmacy to make sure medical carts are as quiet as possible,” says Dr. Federman. Some units may receive devices to prevent doors from closing loudly and white-noise machines.
“We would like healthcare teams to make ‘How did you sleep?’ a standard patient question,” says Dr. Federman. “When we know what is disturbing a patient’s sleep, we can take corrective action.” Staff can share this information with a supervisor.
U Sleep is part of a new UCLA Way to Wellness initiative launching in July. This initiative seeks to enhance the patient experience through improvements in sleep, nutrition, activity, comfort and hygiene. “We’re creating a better environment for patients that helps them heal and get stronger and allows them to be at their best while receiving hospital care,” says Dr. Grimley, who is spearheading the wellness initiative. “When patients are well rested, well fed and comfortable, they’re better able to partner with their healthcare teams and engage in their care.”
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