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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Health Note/ Nursing Home Sleep

Air Date: Week of

Living on Earth’s Diane Toomey reports on research looking into ways to help nursing home patients get a better night's sleep.


CURWOOD: Just ahead, the story of what happened when the Superfund stigma came to Silver Valley, Idaho. First, this environmental health note from Diane Toomey.


TOOMEY: In recent years, there has been a move to make nursing home environments more pleasant and healthy by introducing quality of life enhancements. Those improvements include the addition of such things as plants and animals.

Now researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology want to help nursing home residents get a better night's sleep. They studied sleep disruption in 92 nursing homes, and found that when people woke up during the night, almost one-fifth of the time the cause of that disruption was loud noise.

To alleviate the problem, acoustical engineers working in several nursing homes are testing noise reduction technologies. They're hanging sound-absorbing panels in hallway walls, replacing noisy metal curtain hooks with silent ones, and wrapping sound-deadening blankets around motorized equipment.

Researchers are also trying to reduce television noise by imbedding speakers in headboard and bed pillows. The researchers will study the results, and they'll also examine what effect behavioral interventions have on sleep, such as increased daytime activity, and light exposure. Researchers say they think it will take a combination of behavioral and environmental interventions to improve the sleep of nursing home residents. That's this week's health note. I'm Diane Toomey.


CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Cesaria Evora/Caetano Veloso, "E Preciso Perdoar" RED HOT AND RIO (Verve, 1996)]



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