Noise in hospital rooms and sleep disturbance in hospitalized medical patients

Environ Health Toxicol. 2014 Aug 18;29:e2014006. doi: 10.5620/eht.2014.29.e2014006. eCollection 2014.


Objectives: Hospitalized patients are vulnerable to sleep disturbances because of environmental stresses including noise. While most previous studies on hospital noise and sleep have been performed for medical machines in intensive care units, there is a limited data for patients hospitalized in medical wardrooms. The purpose of present study was to measure noise level of medical wardrooms, identify patient-perceived sources of noise, and to examine the association between noise levels and sleep disturbances in hospitalized patients.

Methods: Noise dosimeters were used to measure noise level in 29 inpatient wardrooms at a university hospital. Sleep pattern and disturbance were assessed in 103 hospitalized patients, using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Leeds Sleep Evaluation Questionnaire.

Results: The mean equivalent continuous noise level for 24 hours was 63.5 decibel A (dBA), which was far higher than 30 dBA recommended by the World Health Organization for hospital wardrooms. Other patients sharing a room were perceived as the most common source of noise by the patients, which was usually preventable. Of the patients in the study, 86% had bad sleep as assessed by the PSQI. The sleep disturbance was significantly correlated with increasing noise levels in a dose response manner.

Conclusions: Systemic organizational interventions are needed to keep wardrooms private and quiet to reduce sleep disturbance.

Keywords: Hospital noise; Medical wardrooms; Perceived noise; Quality assurance; Sleep disturbance.