Patient Care

Noisy Hospitals Impede Sleep


Sleep-disturbing noise in the hospital is a big problem “that can really compromise a patient’s recovery process,” according to Orfeu Buxton, PhD, associate neuroscientist in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.1

Researchers exposed a dozen healthy volunteers to typical nocturnal hospital noise while monitoring their sleep patterns and heart rates, systematically quantifying the disruptive capacity of a range of hospital sounds on sleep. Hospitalized patients routinely cite noise as a major factor that negatively affects quality of care, the researchers note. An Aug. 2 New York Times blog post by Pauline Chen, MD, suggests that government policies linking hospital reimbursement to patient satisfaction might finally turn hospital administrators’ focus on the need to bring this noise under better control.2


  1. Buxton OM, Ellenbogen JM, Wang W, et al. Sleep disruption due to hospital noises: a prospective evaluation. Ann Intern Med. 2012;157(3):170-179.
  2. Chen P. The clatter of the hospital room. New York Times website. Available at: Accessed Aug. 29, 2012.

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