It’s an agonizing irony for anyone recovering in a hospital bed: Rest helps, but it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep in a busy ward.
Holland’s Maastricht University Medical Center has taken a step towards improving that by trialling a lighting system in its cardiac unit where patients slept on average 8 percent longer than a control group of patients who recovered under normal lighting.
The HealWell lighting system, provided by Philips, mimicked the day-night light cycle with a combination of centrally controlled fluorescent and LED lights (not only are the lights helpful healers, they also save energy compared to less efficient incandescent bulbs).
The system assured high levels of light during the day, and it also gradually changed brightness, which helped tune the patient’s biological clock into a more natural sleep-wake rhythm.
“This has a positive effect on the patient's sleep patterns and that in turn has a positive effect on their biorhythm, which is important for their health and well-being,” Maastricht UMC and Philips said in a joint press release on the deployment.
Patients in the HealWell system could also alter lighting themselves, which facilitated a positive state of mind, according to the press release.
Maastricht UMC cautioned that it is still too early to say whether the extra sleep has helped patients heal faster, but it seemed optimistic.
“The patient's mental state is an important factor that influences the prognosis for cardiac patients, and light could have a positive effect on this, as well as on the patient's health in the long term,” said Maastricht UMC cardiologist Dr Petra Kuijpers. “This is, however, an area in which further research is required.”
Can they do anything about snoring while they're at it?