Tips for Sleeping in the Hospital

Autor: Ashley Drake, BSN RN
Fecha de la última revisión: May 15, 2023

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 night of 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.) after 2pm, or 4-6 hours before bedtime (or earlier if you are sensitive to it).
  • Empty your bowel and bladder before going to sleep. Avoid drinking a lot before bed.
  • 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 and wear comfortable clothing when able.
  • Bring a sound machine or small fan to block out hospital noise.
  • Develop a bedtime ritual that helps with 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, ask your care 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. 2023.

Very Well Health. How To Get Better Sleep in the Hospital. 2023. Found at

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your Guide to Healthy Sleep.

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