National roll-out of ‘protected sleep time’ in hospitals proposed

Three-quarters of adults in the UK regularly sleeping less than 7 hours per night

Matt Bodell
24 July 2019
patient in hospital bed

Poor quality sleep associated with physical and mental health problems.

The government has proposed the introduction of “protected sleep time” in hospitals, a green paper has revealed.


In the long-awaited new report, Advancing our health – prevention in the 2020s, the government said sleep had “received relatively little policy attention”.

The report highlights the growing evidence on the health impacts of lack of sleep and calls on the NHS to determine what can be done to ensure those in care settings are getting the amount of rest that they need.

Estimates suggest that up to three-quarters of adults in the UK regularly sleeping less than 7 hours per night.

Protected sleep.

Insufficient or poor quality sleep associated with physical and mental health problems, the government suggests an assessment of the currently policies on sleep and the rollout of ‘protected sleep time’ in hospitals – where staff leave patients sleeping unless clinically necessary.


In a recent survey, over one-third of hospital patients report being bothered by noise created by other patients and one in 5 report being bothered by noise created by staff.

Researchers recently commented that the routine repositioning for pressure area care overnight could be considered ‘unintentional institutional abuse’ or torture.

The report also provides numerous other recommendations including; the UK becoming smoke-free by 2030, the ban of energy drinks to under 16s and extending the sugar tax from soft drinks to other highly sweetened products such as milkshakes.

A shift towards prevention.

Helen Donovan, RCN Professional Lead for Public Health, said: “Nurses, who are often the first to have a conversation with patient about preventing long term health conditions, were very supportive of the recent shift towards prevention.


Adding; “we’ve been waiting some time for these plans which appear to have been buried in the dying days of the current Government,  In addition, the plans already start at a disadvantage, as the Health Foundation suggests there will be a 25 per cent cut in public health spending per person by 2020/21.

“One way to earn the faith of healthcare professionals would be to urgently pledge to restore cuts to the public health grant which local authorities rely on to deliver essential preventative services such as sexual health and smoking cessation services.

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