The Importance of Sleep Assessment and Interventions in All Patients

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It can be thought of as the proverbial “chicken and egg”. Sleep and its association with many types of physiological healing processes, as well as mental states, is a causative relationship in both directions. Sleep is a requirement for healthy nervous system functioning, yet an impairment in neurological functioning or mental disorders can impair sleep. For example, clinical depression is one of the leading causes of insomnia along with anxiety disorders (Halcomb, 2006), but insomnia also leads to depression (Halcomb, 2007). Sleep is also the optimum time and physiological state for cell growth and repair (Harkreader, 2007), yet states of impaired skin integrity, muscle, nerve, or organ damage usually causes pain, which impairs sleep. It is important, therefore, to pay close attention to the assessment of the clients sleep health in nursing practice. Thorough assessment of the clients sleep patterns can identify impaired sleep function, which can in turn set the stage for client-appropriate nursing interventions and communication with the rest of the collaborative health care team, such as the primary physician, for other interventions that may be needed. As important as it is to do a thorough holistic assessment of the patient, some areas of assessment can prove to be more challenging than others in gaining accurate information. Sleep is one of them. It is estimated that 80% of patients who have clinical insomnia do not report this to their health care provider (Halcomb, 2006). In addition to that staggering statistic, in the 20% of patients who do report the insomnia, at least half of the providers fail to address or treat the condition; only 15% to 50% of chronic insomnia sufferers receive treatment (Halcomb, 2007). Why, then, is it so important to identify possible sleep disturbances and intervene? One could speculate that perhaps it is not all that

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