The nighttime environment, incontinence care, and sleep disruption in nursing homes

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1993 Sep;41(9):910-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1993.tb06754.x.


Objective: To evaluate the association between noise, light, nursing care practices, and nighttime awakenings in incontinent nursing home residents.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Four long-term care nursing facilities.

Participants: One hundred eighteen incontinent nursing home residents.

Measurements: Over two nights, bedside monitoring equipment recorded wrist activity, resident bed movements, and environmental noise and light changes in consecutive 2-minute intervals. Changes in sleep and bed movement were compared with changes in noise and light that occurred within the same or proximal 2-minute intervals. Noise and light changes in combination with large resident movement at the hip and shoulder were interpreted as related to incontinence care based on observational measures. Specific outcome measures were: (1) the number of noise and light changes as well as staff care practices that did not wake the resident during periods of consecutive sleep, ie, sleep lasting a minimum of 10 minutes; (2) the number of noise and light changes as well as staff care practices that occurred immediately before or during the 2-minute intervals during which a resident woke from a period of consecutive sleep; and (3) the number of such staff care practices that were related to incontinence care.

Results: Noise and light changes associated with both general environmental events and more specific nurse care practices were associated with 50% of all waking episodes of 4 minutes or longer and 35% of all waking episodes of 2 minutes or shorter. The major sources of all noise were traced to nursing staff. Eighty-seven percent of all incontinence care practices were associated with episodes of waking.

Conclusion: The data reported in this paper document that general environmental noise and incidents of nursing care practices, particularly those related to incontinence care, are responsible for a substantial amount of the sleep fragmentation that is common among nursing home residents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Facility Environment*
  • Hip / physiology
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Lighting / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Night Care* / methods
  • Noise / adverse effects
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Nursing Staff
  • Polysomnography
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Shoulder / physiology
  • Sleep Deprivation* / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Urinary Incontinence / nursing*
  • Wakefulness* / physiology
  • Wrist / physiology