Tips for Sleeping in the Hospital
Trouble sleeping is a common issue for people with cancer and it can be even worse if you are in the hospital. Trouble sleeping can be caused by certain medications, having vital signs or lab work done, other tests or procedures, or noise in the hospital. When you are in the hospital, you are also dealing with an irregular sleep schedule, being woken up at night, and spending more time in bed during the day than you normally might. All of these factors can make it hard to get a good nights’ sleep.
Here are some tips to improve your sleep while in the hospital:
- Limit time spent in bed during the day by walking in the hallways, sitting upright in a chair, and limiting naps.
- Avoid caffeine (coffee, soda, chocolate, etc.) intake after 2pm (or earlier if you are sensitive to it).
- At bedtime, turn off lights, TV, and any extra noise or visual stimuli.
- Ask for earplugs or an eye mask if available (or bring them from home).
- Keep your room temperature cool, ask the staff to adjust the thermostat if needed.
- Bring your favorite pillow and blanket from home.
- Bring a sound machine or small fan to block out hospital noise.
- Develop a bedtime ritual that promotes relaxation and allows you to wind down from the day. Activities may include reading, listening to music, drinking decaffeinated tea, deep breathing, and meditation.
- Ask the staff if your care overnight can be clustered when possible to limit the number of times you are woken up.
If problems such as pain or nausea are preventing you from sleeping, speak to your medical team about how you can manage these issues. While in the hospital, do not take any over-the-counter or prescription medications that aren’t given to you by your nurse. Speak with your medical team about medications you can take to improve your sleep.
National Cancer Institute. Sleep Disorders (PDQ®) Patient Version. 2021.
Very Well Health. How To Get Better Sleep in the Hospital. 2020. Found at https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-get-better-sleep-in-the-hospital-3156868
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your Guide to Healthy Sleep.