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How using 'sleep as medicine' can help hospitalized patients recover quickly

Original Article By: Advisory Board

Summarized By: Neurobit

Hospitals are often challenging environments for patients to get a good night's sleep due to various factors such as frequent blood draws, loud conversations, and the beeping of electronic monitors. According to a report by the Washington Post's Katherine Ellison, some health experts have emphasized the importance of "sleep as medicine" to aid the healing and recovery of hospitalized patients.

Research has shown that sleep deprivation can increase the risk of several health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, obesity, and dementia, according to the National Institutes of Health. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale University, explained that the hospital environment can be toxic and may cause harm to patients' health. Furthermore, sleep deprivation can contribute to "post-hospital syndrome," a condition in which a patient's health declines following hospitalization. Patients may experience a weakened immune system, loss of body mass, and other issues that may necessitate readmission to the hospital.

Donald Edmondson, an associate professor of behavioral medicine at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, has studied how various factors, including a lack of sleep, may contribute to a "PTSD-like response" to hospitalization. Many hospitals' "almost military mentality" contributes to sleep deprivation, according to Krumholz. He argued that hospitals must recognize that patients' sleep is essential to their recovery and take measures to improve their sleep quality.

A study published in August revealed that less than half of hospitals implement sleep-friendly practices such as adjusting lab and medication schedules, reducing overnight vitals monitoring, or implementing "quiet hours." Researchers and some professional organizations, such as the Society of Hospital Medicine and the American Academy of Nursing, have recommended that hospitalized patients not be woken up unnecessarily. Vineet Arora, the dean for medical education at the University of Chicago Biological Sciences Division, and Nicola Orlov, have also proposed the introduction of a "sleep-friendly" designation to encourage hospitals to change their policies.

Krumholz has emphasized that "sleep as medicine" is critical to recovery from acute illness. He has suggested changes to hospital policies, such as prolonging blood draws and scheduling them at later times to allow patients to get more sleep. Overall, health experts and professional organizations have urged hospitals to prioritize patients' sleep and to implement changes to improve their sleep quality while hospitalized.


Advisory Board. (2023, February 22). How using 'sleep as medicine' can help hospitalized patients recover more quickly. Advisory Board. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from

Ellison, K., von Oehsen, E., & Orlov, N. M. (2023, February 19). Sleep is hard to get in hospitals, but there are ways to change that. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_health

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