You are on page 1of 2

The Use of Nighttime Lighting by Nurses Whether it is the cries of a hungry newborn infant, a telephone call at 2 AM or the annoyance

of a snoring spouse, interruptions to sleep can make the next day a difficult one to get through. More serious sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea can have serious long-term negative side effects on a persons health. A lack of sleep affects daily performance, concentration and mental health. The benefits of adequate sleep are well documented. One such benefit of sleep is its paramount role in the recovery and healing process of a hospital patient. In their study, Nighttime Lighting in Intensive Care Units, Dunn, Anderson and Hill imply that the use of nighttime lighting by nurses while conducting necessary medical procedures on hospital patients during normal sleep hours optimizes the bodys healing process and leads to a quicker recovery time. This implied hypothesis is based on the bodys internal clock referred to as the circadian rhythm. The human body responds to darkness by secreting melatonin which is responsible for inducing sleep and guiding the body through the different stages of sleep. Turning on overhead lighting during the night by nurses disrupts and changes the circadian rhythm and production of melatonin in a hospital patient. The researchers conducted this study in a 12-bed surgical intensive care unit (SICU) for a period of seven nights. In order to prevent the nurses on duty from modifying their normal behavior, the researchers did not inform them about the nature of the study. The researcher positioned herself at the nurses station, observed three randomly selected SICU rooms from the hours of 10 PM to 6 AM and recorded the data on the Light Activity Time Evaluation (LATE) sheet, an audit sheet created by one of the researchers.

The researcher documented activities such as administering medicine, recording vitals, collecting samples, and bathing and whether or not the nurse(s) used nighttime lighting or overhead lighting to perform these activities. The researcher also documented incidences no activity but the overhead light in the SICU room remained turned on in the patients room. Dunn, Anderson and Hill accepted the implied hypothesis. They concluded that nighttime lighting and a good nights sleep are critical to overall health, and healing cannot occur without it. They recommended modifying patient care plans so that the majority of the patient care takes place during the daytime and researching the importance of lighting as a critical environmental factor in regulation of the normal circadian rhythm. Recognizing that the light usage among the nurses varied and is individualized, the article also called for further study to identify the demographic characteristics of nurses who fail to practice light discipline in the performance of their duties. As medical professionals, nurses must understand the importance of quality sleep in a recovering patient. Quicker recoveries lead to greater patient satisfaction, lower hospital bills and more available bed space which would reduce or eliminate waiting lists. Hospital should implement policies that limit unnecessary use of overhead lighting during optimal sleep hours. Nurses in supervisory positions must reprimand any medical staff under his/her charge in regards to the use of unnecessary lighting or leaving on lights when no activity is occurring.