Friday, September 28, 2012


For a mentally ill person, the right amount of sleep is critical. Having a regular bedtime and wake-up time, getting between 7-9 hours a night, and enjoying a sound sleep are all conducive to good mental health.

My worst periods of illness have come with severe sleep disturbances, where I get very little sleep followed by a crash into depression. But in some cases lack of sleep is used as a therapeutic device. According to one of my psychiatrists, patients that are not responding to an antidepressant may do better if deprived of sleep for one night.

Anyhow, the whole point of this is that generally sleep is good. I think we can all agree on that.

What I dislike about every psych ward is how hard it is to get a good sleep. First off, your door is never fully closed – so you hear everything that is happening (and stuff happens all night). There is light from the hallway. You usually have a roommate with some sort of apnea or snoring problem (that was me, actually. Apologies to all of my former roommates).

But the biggest disruptor is that every hour or so one of the nurses checks on you. With a flashlight. Aimed at your face.

I don’t know what they expect to see. I would have loved to have had a scary mask to slip on after I went to bed. The nurses can see perfectly well enough to know that there is a person there, and that they are breathing. So why the light to the face?

Even cheap digital video cameras have infra-red night vision, now. Why not use one of those if you really want to see my face while I’m sleeping?

Disrupted sleep combined with disturbing food. Both things, I think, could be improved. If you had to live at a hospital, it would make you crazy.

Which is kind of ironic when you think about it.


Unknown said...

I remember from my stay at BC Womens how strong the hall light is. I luckily didn't get the flashlight to the face treatment, which they seem to reserve for those in for mental health. There but for the grace of god go I.

I made myself an eye-mask so I could sleep properly. Still had less sleep than at home...

D'Arcy said...

It's so hard to sleep in a strange place. I seem to recall they wouldn't let us have masks - I'm not sure why. I'll have to find out why they needed to see our faces. I've always wondered.