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Lack of Sleep Due to Hospitalization

By Oren Traub, MD, PhD, Departments of Internal Medicine and Adult Hospital Medicine, Pacific Medical Centers

Sleeping in the hospital (see Problems Due to Hospitalization) can be difficult for many reasons, including

  • An uncomfortable hospital bed

  • The illness itself

  • Emotional stress and anxiety about the illness

  • Pain after surgery or due to other conditions

  • Noise in the hospital (such as beeping alarms, staff members talking in the hallways, equipment being moved, or a roommate who snores)

  • Interruptions during the night to measure vital signs (such as temperature and blood pressure), take blood, change intravenous (IV) lines, or give drugs

As a result, many people are discharged from the hospital feeling more tired than when they entered the hospital.


People should tell their doctor or nurse that they are having problems sleeping.

Solutions may include

  • Modifying beeping alarms on equipment

  • Transferring people to another room if their roommate is snoring

  • Giving people drugs to control pain, to promote sleep, or to relieve anxiety

  • Using ear plugs

If people are improving, they can ask their doctor whether waking them at night to measure vital signs is necessary.