Awakenings? Patient and Hospital Staff Perceptions of Nighttime Disruptions and Their Effect on Patient Sleep

J Clin Sleep Med. 2017 Feb 15;13(2):301-306. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.6468.


Study objectives: Although important to recovery, sleeping in the hospital is difficult because of disruptions. Understanding how patients, hospital physicians, and nurses perceive sleep disruptions and identifying which disruptions are associated with objective sleep loss can help target improvement initiatives.

Methods: Patients and hospital staff completed the Potential Hospital Sleep Disruptions and Noises Questionnaire (PHSDNQ). Cutoff points were defined based on means, and responses were dichotomized. Perceived percent disrupted for each item was calculated, and responses were compared across groups using chi-square tests. Objective sleep time of patients was measured using wrist actigraphy. The association between patient-reported disruptions and objective sleep time was assessed using a multivariable linear regression model controlling for subject random effects.

Results: Twenty-eight physicians (78%), 37 nurses (88%), and 166 of their patients completed the PHSDNQ. Patients, physicians, and nurses agreed that pain, vital signs and tests were the top three disrupters to patient sleep. Significant differences among the groups' perceptions existed for alarms [24% (patients) vs. 46% (physicians) vs. 27% (nurses), p < 0.040], room temperature (15% vs. 0% vs. 5%, p < 0.031) and anxiety (18% vs. 21% vs. 38%, p < 0.031). Using survey and actigraphy data from 645 nights and 379 patients, the presence of pain was the only disruption associated with lower objective sleep duration (minutes) [-38.1 (95% confidence interval -63.2, -12.9) p < 0.003].

Conclusion: Hospital staff and patients agreed that pain, vital signs and tests were top sleep disrupters. However, pain was associated with the greatest objective sleep loss, highlighting the need for proactive screening and management of patient pain to improve sleep in hospitals.

Keywords: disruptions; noise; pain; quality improvement; sleep.

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology*
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / psychology
  • Personnel, Hospital / psychology*
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / etiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors