Educating Patients about Sleep Tools


One of the biggest complaints of hospital patients today is poor sleep, which is not conducive to healing or good health in general.

“The reason I’m interested, as a cardiologist, is that sleep disorders are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality,” says Peter M. Farrehi, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan and lead author of a recent sleep study published in The American Journal of Medicine.

Most information about sleeping in the hospital comes from ICU studies, he says.

Dr. Farrehi wanted to actually test an intervention rather than simply survey patients. All patients received an eye mask, ear plugs, and a white-noise machine, then were randomized to receive an education-based script on the importance of using these sleep-enhancing tools or a discussion about the general benefits of sleep.

“To avoid bias in the study both from the research staff and also hospital staff, I didn't want only the intervention to have the tools,” he says. “This was a double-blind, randomized control trial in the hospital, which is really unusual.”

Patients in the group that was taught about the sleep-enhancing tools had a statistically significant difference in their perceptions of fatigue and a trend toward improving their sleep and wake disturbances.

Dr. Farrehi suggests hospitalists talk to their patients complaining of poor sleep about these sleep tools. If they are not available in their hospital, hospitalists might refer their medical director to this paper to see if there is any interest in purchasing these sleep tools.


  1. 1. Farrehi PM, Clore KR, Scott JR, Vanini G, Clauw DJ. Efficacy of sleep tool education during hospitalization: a randomized controlled trial [published online ahead of print August 23, 2016]. Am J Med. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.08.001.

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