Last Updated on February 11, 2024 by Louise Carter
Most hospitals lack the budget to buy comfortable seating for visitors. Hospital chairs are intended to be practical, hard-wearing, and easy to clean rather than welcoming.
Hospitals can be extremely noisy due to significant football, so find a quieter part of the hospital to sleep. Notify a staff member so they know where to find you in an emergency.
Sleeping while sitting upright is difficult, especially when you’re feeling stressed.
If you can’t find a reclining chair, use two seats to elevate your legs and sleep at a 45-degree angle. This reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis or back and shoulder pain.
Bringing a blanket, pillows, and an eye mask will increase your physical and psychological comfort. Also, consider drinking a glass of warm milk or eating a banana to help achieve a restful state.
Why Are Hospital Chairs So Uncomfortable?
We’ve all experienced the discomfort of a hospital chair while waiting for a loved one to have surgery, health appointments running late, or waiting to be attended to in the ER.
It’s rare for seating arrangements in hospitals to be relaxing and comfortable.
Most hospitals have basic, rigid plastic or metal chairs with limited back support. Couple these designs with the stress and anxiety a hospital visitor is likely experiencing, and it’s difficult to relax.
The average American hospital measures 444,000 square feet, but a larger hospital can be over a million square feet. That is a lot of space to populate with chairs.
Hospital chairs accommodate visitors of all heights, weights, and definitions of able-bodied. Luxury seats won’t suit everybody, so a universal, basic chair is the most inclusive approach.
As hospitals are for sick and injured people, chairs must be regularly cleaned and sanitized. A metal or plastic chair can easily be wiped if soiled with blood, vomit, excrement, etc.
Hospitals need to deter people from waiting and loitering unnecessarily. Hospitals in major metropolitan cities can attract homeless populations or other people with no medical reason to be there.
Healthcare professionals also prefer encouraging patients’ loved ones to return home and rest, which is a legitimate option, especially if they don’t expect news for some time.
Prioritizing comfort over practicality discourages people from leaving the building.
How To Sleep in A Hospital Chair
The fact that it’s so difficult to sleep in a hospital chair is one of the reasons friends and family of patients are advised to head home when waiting for news rather than spending the night in a waiting room.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always an option. If you need to stay in a hospital overnight but aren’t a patient, follow these suggestions to find the best way to sleep in a hospital chair.
You’ll contend with the sounds of medical apparatus, orderlies and other staff moving between wards, and conversations between doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
You could block out noise by listening to music, but electronic devices like cellular phones may be frowned upon in hospitals. Instead, find a quieter corridor or ward to sleep.
Inform a staff member of your intentions so they know who you are, why you’re staying overnight in the hospital, and where you can be found if there’s news to share.
Get an eye mask once you find a quiet place to sleep. Most hospital shops will stock them, and shielding your eyes from bright lights will make it easier to fall asleep.
Pillows And Blankets
Ideally, pillows, cushions, and blankets will be from your home because this will help you relax. If getting bedding from home isn’t an option, buy emergency alternatives from a store.
Hospitals have a cool ambient temperature to prevent bacteria and viruses from flourishing. While a lower body temperature aids sleep, the average hospital may be too cold to sleep without blankets.
You’ll also need pillows and cushions to make an uncomfortable hospital chair more tolerable.
Place a pillow behind the small of your back, as a basic hospital chair will offer minimal lumbar support. Resting your head on a pillow will also minimize shoulder pain.
Elevate Legs and Feet
Once you’ve found the ideal sleeping location, ensure you can elevate your legs and tilt your body.
If you’re lucky, you may source a reclining chair that doesn’t force you to sleep while sitting upright. If this isn’t the case, you must improvise.
If the chairs are attached to the ground, spread yourself over two seats. If they’re mobile, drag a second chair or ottoman to use as a footstool and angle yourself at a 45-degree angle.
To keep the seat where you place your feet hygienic, cover it with a blanket or item of clothing.
Keeping your feet off the ground reduces your risk of ankle swelling. Sitting upright is uncomfortable for your back and shoulders and can force blood circulation into your lower extremities.
Calm Mind And Body
If you attempt to sleep in a hospital chair, you’re unlikely to feel calm and relaxed.
People only stay in hospitals for a long time if they anxiously await news about a loved one, so you must soothe your anxiety to sleep.
While there are no miracle cures to prevent stress, especially when you have good reason to feel uneasy, consider these steps to soothe your worries:
- Take deep breaths. JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports stated that breathing exercises can ease physical stress.
- Drink some warm milk or herbal tea.
- Take herbal stress relief tablets or sleeping aids.
- Eat a banana, a bowl of oats, or a turkey sandwich.
These foods and beverages have the same function as herbal medications but are entirely natural.
They flood the body with tryptophan, an amino acid that converts to serotonin (the “happiness hormone”) and melatonin (the “sleep hormone”) within the body, encouraging you to relax and doze off.
Occasionally Walk Around
If you attempt to rest in a hospital chair, you’re unlikely to get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Get as much sleep as possible, even if it’s just an hour, and get up and walk around occasionally.
Physical exercise reduces the risk of deep vein thrombosis and swelling around the ankles caused by remaining in the same position for too long while standing upright.
This will allow you to stretch your legs, back, and shoulder muscles.
The more you move, the more likely you are to grow tired and sleep again when you next have an opportunity. If possible, head outside and get some natural light while you’re on the move.
This will reset your circadian rhythms, which will grow confused by prolonged time indoors.
Hospital chairs aren’t designed to accommodate restful sleep, but you can gain at least a few hours of rest if you take the appropriate steps.
Equip yourself with what you need to get enough sleep in a highly stressful situation.