Nursing home population has a great deal of sleep disturbance

May 16th, 2016

Said Bettye Rose Connell, a health research scientist at the Atlanta V.A. Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Emory. “…. Not all awakenings are related to noise. But sleep disruption related to noise is enough of a problem that we want to find ways to relieve it.”
Noise increases measured at six or more decibels were a factor in 18 percent of almost 4,000 nighttime awakenings, according to researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University and the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center. Researchers collected the data from 92 metro Atlanta nursing home residents studied for about 500 person-nights. The National Institute of Aging is funding the five-year study.

You can read the full report here The researchers recommend sound absorbing panels and sound deadening blankets.

We are glad to see the issue of sound in health care facilities continuing to brought to the forefront. This is a critical issue that should be dealt with in the construction plans of any health care facility.

Your 5 Senses Directly Impact Your Sleep

August 29th, 2013

It’s true. Everything about you impacts the way you sleep and how beneficial that sleep is to your body. Your five senses – hearing, smell, taste, touch, and vision – aren’t just for your waking hours. They impact your health all the time.

The things you see as you prepare for bed need to be calming, not stimulating. Everything from the color of the paint you use on the walls to the artwork you hang can have an impact. You’ll also want to be conscious of outside influences like moonlight, car lights, and street lamps.

The things you taste – like toothpaste or mouthwash – and the things you smell – like your partner – can also send signals to your brain. This is one reason why so many people respond so well to aromatherapy.

The things you touch include your mattress, bedding, sheets, and even your pillows. The textures, fibers, density, and shape can all make a difference.

But that’s not what we find most important here. We are, of course, always concerned with sound. Noises can have a huge impact on your ability to sleep and the lighter you sleep, the more noises can bother you. Do cars drive down your street at night? Does the neighbor have a barking dog? Do you leave the television blaring all night long, like my fiance does? While sound is generally not recommended, I have found a sleep machine that makes white noise helps me to fall asleep.

Outside noises, however, drive me nuts. If you can’t get past the noises, you may need to consider soundproofing by adding extra drywall with green glue or by checking the seals on your doors and windows.

Sleep is critical to your health, so you need to make sure your five senses are all happy and content when your head hits the pillow each night!

Can Add-On’s Improve Health By Blocking Noise?

August 15th, 2013

In a press release published on, noise pollution was explored as being a health risk. Excess noise in our homes and places of business can cause a myriad of health complications, ranging from sleep disorders to heart disease. To make matters worse, noise levels at night significantly increased the risk of heart attacks due to the stress it puts on the body.

Scientists have been raving about the importance of sleep for years and years. Your body does quite a bit of healing during your restful times, and if your body can’t get enough rest, you eventually become rundown.

A new product known simply as Soundproof Windows has been created. They don’t replace your windows, but they are added to the inside and blend in with the existing layout. These windows have been shown to reduce noise anywhere from 90% – 98% – a significant improvement.

Of course, having special windows built to your home’s specifications may not be in the budget. If that’s the case, start with simple solutions to block outside noise – check your window and door seals and make sure there are no obvious leaks. If all else fails, seek alternative soundproofing solutions  – like window coverings. Your health depends on it!

Hearing Loss Connected to Hospitalizations

July 24th, 2013

According to a study done by Johns Hopkins, individual who have significant hearing loss were more likely to be in a bad mood, suffer from depression, be hospitalized frequently, and suffer from injuries and illness.

The study looked at a sampling of individuals over the age of 70. The group consisted of 1,140 people with hearing problems and over 500 with good hearing.

The concern is that hearing loss can lead to difficulties with other cognitive abilities, especially in the elderly. It impacts their ability to live independently. Previous to this, no one had done a study to determine the impact hearing loss had on the overall use of the healthcare system.

In terms of the study itself, patients sat in a soundproof room. They had to listen to sounds ranging from 0 to 100 decibels. Those who have hearing problems can generally only hear sounds higher than 25 decibels.

The study found that those with hearing loss were more likely to have hear problems. They were also more likely to have longer illnesses and hospital stays.

What does this mean to you? We’re not 100% sure yet, but you should be conscious of the noises you’re exposing yourself to. Preserve your hearing for your future health!

Soft Hospital Rooms Introduced in Ontario

July 10th, 2013

At the Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital in Ontario, a new type of room has been developed. The “soft” room was designed with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking, and other types of abuse in mind.

The theory behind the soft room is that victims have to deal with quite a bit in the hospital in terms of the initial trauma, examination, and follow-up treatments. The last thing a victim needs is to follow the event and ER trip up with a trip to the local police precinct.

These special “soft” rooms are designed to be comfortable places for victims, many still in shock from the events they’ve experienced. The rooms are nicely furnished, warm, and soundproof, ensuring safety. While one investigator conducts an interview, another can record it in an adjoining room, reducing some of the stress of seeing recording equipment.

Having these rooms in the hospital does a couple of things. It ensures victims and witnesses are interviewed faster. They’re also not exposed to each other, which means they’re not contaminated. These room are also increasing the likelihood that the interviews will take place at all, as many victims change their minds about going to the precinct after leaving the hospital.

These rooms are part of an overall program, too. They are accompanied by nurses who are specially trained to deal with trauma and assault. They not only help with injuries, but can make sure victims have safety plans before they leave.


Exploring the Effects of Hospital Noise

June 17th, 2013

We’ve been talking about hospital noise quite a bit lately. It may seem odd to focus on it so much, but studies are showing that hospital noise has more of an impact than we ever before believed or understood.

According to the NIH, the effects of hospital noise are profound. “The body responds to noise in the same way it responds to stress and overtime can impair health.” We’ve discussed how noise impacts patients in the hospital, but what we haven’t really thought about is how noise impacts the nurses themselves.

Nurses themselves are subjected to the noises from each and every hospital room they visit. They also have alarms, phones, and alert systems at their stations between rooms. In some areas, there have been studies as to the effectiveness of alarms when nurses are dulled to the noise – making them less likely to respond to critical care needs in a timely manner simply because they are no longer processing the sounds. We also have to wonder if the nurses are suffering additional stress throughout their lives simply because of the additional sound exposure.

One thing is for sure. We can’t have silent hospitals. That said, we have to find new ways to ensure nurse and patients can communicate without creating stress – for either.

What do you think?

Decreased Hospital Noise Improves Patient Health

June 3rd, 2013

Anyone who has been in the hospital – for a day or for days on end – knows how difficult it is to get any rest while you’re there. You’re uncomfortable from your illness; you’re hooked up to a ton of machines; and if you are lucky enough to fall asleep, the nurses will wake you up pretty quickly  to take your vitals or do some other type of work with you. Add to that the sound of the machines beeping, voices of hushed conversations, the moaning of other patients, and other odd noises and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

According to this NY TIMES article, that’s exactly how some patients feel. One woman claimed she felt as though she gets sicker when she’s in the hospital because she can’t get any rest. So while the doctors are, in essence, pumping you full of meds to treat your condition, your lack of rest is causing fatigue – which ultimately wears down your immune system. No wonder there are so many hospital born infections.

Those who are sleeping need sleep. Sounds cause changes in their brain patterns, according to studies. And when a patient is jarred out of his sleep, his heart rate automatically rises in response to stress (which also impacts levels of adrenaline). People who are away from home are already stressed and on high alert, so loud noises don’t help – at all.

Recent changes in hospital policy may change the way patients feel. As hospitals build new locations, they’re focused on a few things. Sadly, one of those things is the customer rating system – a system that insurance companies may ultimately be able to use to determine how much to reimburse hospitals for their services. As a result, hospitals are looking to make your stay more comfortable. In places where sharing a room was once common, individual rooms that may leave you wondering if your hospital has installed some soundproofing are now the norm. You’ll hear the sounds of your own machines, but the sounds from other people are more dulled. And yes, your nurse will still have to wake you up, but she won’t wake you up while she’s working with someone else.


Why aren’t Hospitals Using Hush Curtains?

May 14th, 2013

With all of the concerns about the stress caused to patients who hear tons of noise around them in hospital emergency rooms, it’s surprising to find that more hospitals aren’t using Hush curtains.

This video is from 2010, and I’m amazed to see the use of these curtains hasn’t spread throughout the country. Hush curtains are washable an padded, allowing for an increased level of soundproofing and privacy in the busiest part of the hospital – the emergency room.

Check it out and see for yourself. While I’m sure you can hear plenty, dulling the moans, screams, and beeping of emergency patients has to be beneficial to the stress levels of some of the others.

Is Hospital Noise Causing Patient Deaths?

May 6th, 2013

The question seems contradictory, but it’s a valid concern. A recent article in The Huffington Post explored the possibility that noise in hospitals was contributing to patient stress levels – and death counts.

It’s not what you think. The noise it self isn’t causing patient deaths. Can you imagine slowly going crazy from the stress of hearing hospital machines beep hour after hour? Read the rest of this entry »

Hospital Noise: Can It Be Helped

January 17th, 2013

You’ve either been, or know someone who has been, in the hospital. Maybe you’ve been the patient. Perhaps you were just visiting. Either way, you know the hospital is anything but quiet.

This video clip was taken by a guy in a hospital. It’s only 24 seconds long, but there are at least two identifiable sounds happening at the same time – repetitious, obnoxious sounds.

This isn’t the same as the noise you’d hear from room to room, though I’m sure it’s not too tough to hear some of those same noises coming from other rooms. So while hospitals could theoretically soundproof to help reduce some of the echoing, we have to wonder one thing. Is it really safe to do so?

In other words, would it be safe to create a situation in which it is harder for a nurse, aide, or doctor to hear that a patient is in need? Or should hospitals have more advanced call-systems that patients can use for help?

What do you think?