In this first blog entry I would like to relate my experiences in the hospital this past year with noise and sleep disturbance. I only recognized the severe adverse health effects after the fact. I was hospitalized last year for a fractured femur. I have multiple sclerosis, so I had limited mobility and a difficult and lengthy recovery. When I returned home from the hospital I had nurses aides from a home health care agency. I had also gotten into the habit of sleeping with some lights and the radio on at night. After several months of this I had become chronically sleep deprived though I didn't recognize it at the time.
Some of the effects that I had begun to notice toward the end of this period were extreme emotional lability, episodes of extreme laughing and crying, outbursts of hostility, visual hallucinations, delusions (imagining that the buildings outside my apartment were downtown even though I live in a residential area), and physiological effects (abnormal reactions to prescription medication). For example, my reaction to Zanaflex (Tizanadine) during this period of sleep deprivation was profuse sweating and temporary memory loss. After I recognized my sleep-deprived condition, and had gotten enough sleep, these reactions to medication reverted to the way they were supposed to be, anti-spasticity and mild sedation. The other effects also disappeared and my mood stabilized.
After more than a year of being confined to a hospital bed I started getting pressure sores. In the course of treatment I got a low air loss mattress with an air pump that runs continuously day and night. I was diligent about maintaining adequate sleep but in spite of my efforts some of the effects of sleep deprivation came back briefly, primarily the physiological effects of medication.
I began to think that this was a common problem in medical facilities, as well as in nursing homes and in home-care settings, where there are machines, such as the one I have, but also oxygen delivery systems, or various other machines, that put out white noise and that may have harmful health effects.
I did some tests at home and found that my air pump puts out 48 dBA, about the same as a clothes washer or dryer, more than a refrigerator (42 dBA) or the heating and air-conditioning system (40 dBA), and far more than is indicated by the World Health Organization as potentially leading to sleep disruption.
I have started to develop and market a sound damping cover for an air pump for a low air loss mattress cover. I was researching the potential market for something like this for the medical community (hospitals, nursing homes, and home use) and I came across your papers on sleep disorders and noise reduction in health care settings.
This has become my mission, not only to develop a profit making business for myself and my associates, but to bring effective, inexpensive, easy-to-install noise reduction technology to hospitals, nursing home, and home healthcare settings nationwide.