Better sleep may shorten children’s hospital stays
Parents do their best to maintain a regular sleep schedule with their children, through bedtime routines that include reading bedtime stories, turning on nightlights, and tucking them in. However, this ritual is disturbed whenever a child has to spend the night in the hospital. By blurring the lines between day and nighttime, hospital settings make it harder for young patients to get the rest they need.
In this Pacific Prime China article, we’ll talk about how hospitals can help children get a better night’s rest, which, in turn, can shorten their time there.
How hospitals affect kids’ quality of rest
There are many reasons why getting a good night’s rest in a hospital is difficult, especially when it comes to children. Whether it is the bright fluorescent lights, constant chatter between staff, or being woken up for things like vitals checks, resting for the recommended eight hours can be in a challenge. With growing research focusing on the connection between health and sleep, children’s hospitals are reassessing the way they operate at night.
Why poor sleep makes kids sicker
Aside from messing with a child’s regular routine, getting poor sleep in hospitals can even make them sicker. While lack of sleep is known to make us more susceptible to colds and the flu, poor sleep affects the body in other ways as well. For example, children in the ICU who are not interrupted at night don’t require as much anesthesia or sedation. Children who get a good night’s rest also tend to get out of bed and move around during the daytime.
What’s more, since many children’s hospitals encourage parents to stay in their child’s room overnight, interruptions at night wake them up as well. Consequently, parents are not as alert when they receive instructions for their child’s follow-up care, which can easily lead to mishearing or misremembering complicated instructions.
Ways hospitals can help children sleep better
Since the goal of hospitals is to heal children, it makes sense to do the one thing that supports their brain development, which is to optimize their sleep. Children’s hospitals are starting to adopt strategies that are used to promote better sleep in facilities serving adults, such as:
- Enforcing quiet evening hours
- Grouping overnight activities (like vitals checks and medication administration) to reduce interruptions
- Using tools such as white noise machines to create a calm environment
Additionally, routine activities like bathing children are moved to daytime while playtime is encouraged in the afternoon to help keep a regular routine and differ from evening rest. The goal in doing so is to help children sleep better and speed up the healing process.
Small changes, such as lowering blinds between certain hours of the night according to the patient’s needs and habits, can be enough. In some hospitals, parents are asked to provide their child’s favorite bedtime music. Similarly, alerts can be sent directly to a nurse’s phone instead of triggering loud beeps from speakers that disturb the entire unit.
However, it’s not easy to find a balance. For instance, hospital staff need to wake up children who are very sick multiple times throughout the night. Some medications and tests cannot be pushed back, especially if the child is under intensive care. It’s also difficult to accommodate what children require at different ages. While a two-year-old goes to bed and wakes up early, a teenager may have a hard time falling asleep before 10 p.m. Hospitals must be able to accommodate all ages.
Creating an ideal environment
Perhaps the biggest challenge when it comes to creating a more relaxing environment in children’s hospitals is getting nurses and doctors to be quiet and more considerate. For many, nighttime is their regular shift and interruptions like nighttime bathing occur when they do because it fits the staff’s schedule. Shifting away from that can require a major adjustment of the hospital’s workflow and culture.
Finding the right hospital for your child
The hospital you choose can make a big difference in your overall experience. Great hospitals put the patient’s safety, satisfaction, and recovery first. However, the top hospitals also tend to cost the most, which is why many parents and individuals alike decide to get health insurance.
Pacific Prime works with the top insurers to help you find the best family health insurance in China. We are happy to discuss how each component of a plan can be tailored to fit you and your family’s needs. In addition, we realize the importance of getting the best insurance coverage for your budget. Having the right health insurance in China gives you access to the best hospitals, clinics, and doctors if anything should happen to you or your loved ones.
Contact us for advice on what insurers and plans are ideal for you or receive a no-obligation free quote today.
When she’s not writing, she’s likely searching for a new restaurant or cafe to try, reading or doing yoga.
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