Hospital Lighting Could Affect Patients’ Sleep

by Rachel Baker on November 1, 2013

If you’ve ever spent any time in a hospital, you know this study isn’t proving anything you didn’t already know, and that the sample size, while small, probably proves the same things with a larger sample size.

Changing hospital lighting so that it follows a natural light-dark cycle could help patients sleep better and experience less pain, a small new study suggests.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that the lack of fluctuation between low light and bright light — like a typical sleep-wake cycle, where it’s bright during the day and dark in the night — in hospitals is linked with poor sleep, more fatigue and more pain among patients.

For the study, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, researchers examined the light exposure and sleeping patterns of 23 women and 17 men who were admitted to a hospital between May 2011 and April 2012. Researchers followed the light exposure, mood and pain levels of the patients for 72 hours each.

Patients in general got fragmented sleep, and just 236.35 minutes (about four hours) of shuteye, on average, each night. An association was found between fatigue and bad mood and low light exposure, while pain levels were linked with fatigue.

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