These are my sleep tips to cope with being in hospital.
Our son Matthew spent 50% of his time in hospital so getting the best quality sleep we could was important. Being there so long, and so often mean’t we couldn’t just say ‘I’ll catch up when we’re home again.’
Of course when we were at home, there were no nurses to keep an eye on him. So I wouldn’t necessarily be getting more or better sleep. Medications, feeds, respiratory monitoring were all my responsibility at home.
Good sleep contributes to good mental health
Experts agree good sleep is a massive part of good emotional and mental health. Paramount for preventing burnout.
The benefits of good sleep are things like better decision making capability and mental resilience.
Our Sleep Tips
As I wrote, I asked my husband add what his best ways to get good quality sleep in hospital were. My husband and I shared the overnights at the hospital every fortnight or so.
Create a Routine.
So firstly, create your own routine.
I know that this seems crazy – anything can be happening in hospital – but getting the best sleep you can in hospital is important.
Sit back a little, is every night chaos? Is every night an emergency?
& even if it is, its in your child’s best interests to look after you.
When the team ask you to make serious decisions, changes in care, to consider changing how things are done at home, medications etc. You need to be at the best you can to process all of this.
Build this routine so that no matter the hour of night, you can wind down.
Your own routine might be something like; teeth, shower, jammies (or the hospital version – I know some people bring in their cute flannelette pjs into hospital – but that’s not for everyone.)
Turn off your technology
Add a few things like, turning off technology before you start to wind down.
I sometimes find it useful to have a good book (an actual book) with me.
This enables me to keep my mind engaged while simultaneously winding down. Something that doesn’t happen with my phone.
Blocking out surrounding noises
Sometimes the noise from other patients or the hospital in general would make it difficult to get off to sleep.
I remember one night messaging my good friend Kat.
‘Can I just say we’re in a shared room and the kid next door has a crazy grunt that gets worse in the evening and when she is upset, it makes me very tense!’
She messaged me back, ‘Shared rooms are balls!..Can you try a brown noise app? That’s what we use and have done for 7 years…in and out the hospital.’
‘Great for drowning out all those noises.’
We went onto to have a conversation that there are many different frequencies, brown, pink, purple, as well as white. Different frequencies for age.
If you search ‘White Noise’ or any of the others in your app store you’ll find a free app to test it out.
Or you can check out amazon** for a white noise machine, that allows adjustable frequencies, & volumes. Ideal for masking environmental noises so you can fall asleep with ease. It’s also ideal for creating a disturbance-free work zone (also ideal if you’re working in the hospital, like I did.)
Your own bedding, especially pillow
I don’t know about every hospital, but our hospital pillows are covered in plastic. Then even with the cotton pillowcases on it, every move you make, creates an awful crinkling noise. They can be quite stiff, not at all ideal for snuggling into.
Luke was the first to realise bringing your own was the way to go.
On his shift it was his go to, pillow and doona from home.
We only did this for us though, never for Matthew, although some families do. Due to the amount of bedding that he could sometimes go through.
Get outside once a day
We found staying inside all of the time, caused headaches, issues with concentration and made brain fog much worse.
What does this have to do with sleep tips to cope. Do you sleep well with headaches, & foggy brain? I know I don’t.
For some outside seems sooo far away and un-achievable. Especially when their child is completely reliant on them, or very unwell.
I urge you to consider how much better your level of care for them will be taking these steps. You might even consider stepping out to go for a run or walk as part of exercising while you’re in hospital.
This might be part of your morning routine, that will add to your own sleep tips to cope in hospital.
Aim to hit the hay at the same time each day
This is something I really struggled with.
My husband swears by it, and I learned to follow suit. Your body gets used to it. Making it easier to wind down for sleep each night.
For nights when things have gone to shit, it will be the last thing on your mind. But when things wind down again, go back to the routine. Give yourself space to get your mind ready for sleep. No matter the hour.
A Good Quality Fish Oil
Yep, that’s what I said, a good quality fish oil.
This was the turning point of my quality of sleep by far.
I learned that at night our bodies are searching for fats to repair the body, and if we provide it with the right kind of good fats, the body works better.
The anti-inflammatory properties and omegas go to work. Repairing your body, and improving the quality of sleep. It could explain why some people get cravings late at night, your body is desperate for the right stuff to do its best work.
Let’s face it, living in and out of the hospital we’re not exactly consuming a whole food, organic balanced diet – If we get around to eating at all.
Two weeks after starting to take my fish oil, as part of the triangle of health, I suddenly realised how much things had changed. My quality of sleep had improved so much that I was feeling like I had a full nights sleep.
Had I? Not a chance. Not with a medically complex child and a 6 month old who woke 6 times a night.
I also found the brain fog started to lift, and my energy and concentration returned.
Please check out the triangle of health (this is my affiliate link, I earn a commission off sales. This enables me to keep supporting families like mine.) It was the single most important of our sleep tips to cope that I did to improve my sleep and ability to cope.
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