The silent threat: investigating sleep disturbances in hospitalized patients

Corey Adams, Reema Harrison, Anthony Schembri, Moira Junge, Ramesh Walpola

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Sleep disruptions in the hospital setting can have adverse effects on patient safety and well-being, leading to complications like delirium and prolonged recovery. This study aimed to comprehensively assess the factors influencing sleep disturbances in hospital wards, with a comparison of the sleep quality of patients staying in single rooms to those in shared rooms. A mixed-methods approach was used to examine patient-reported sleep quality and sleep disruption factors, in conjunction with objective noise measurements, across seven inpatient wards at an acute tertiary public hospital in Sydney, Australia. The most disruptive factor to sleep in the hospital was noise, ranked as ‘very disruptive’ by 20% of patients, followed by acute health conditions (11%) and nursing interventions (10%). Patients in shared rooms experienced the most disturbed sleep, with 51% reporting ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ sleep quality. In contrast, only 17% of the patients in single rooms reported the same. Notably, sound levels in shared rooms surpassed 100 dB, highlighting the potential for significant sleep disturbances in shared patient accommodation settings. The results of this study provide a comprehensive overview of the sleep-related challenges faced by patients in hospital, particularly those staying in shared rooms. The insights from this study offer guidance for targeted healthcare improvements to minimize disruptions and enhance the quality of sleep for hospitalized patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermzae042
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number2
Early online date10 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2024. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • hospitals
  • improvement
  • noise
  • nursing
  • patient experience
  • quality
  • sleep
  • survey


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