When your child is in the hospital: 5 tips for getting better sleep

hospital2In August of 2012 our oldest son, Wes, was diagnosed with ALL leukemia.  Since that time he has spent weeks and weeks and weeks in the hospital.  Actually, as I am type this I am sitting beside him in the hospital.  Being in the hospital with your child is hard.  There is just nothing easy about seeing your child sick, in pain, being poked and prodded and going through treatment.  It is physically, mentally and emotionally EXHAUSTING!

Over the many times of being with him in the hospital I have learned to put into practice some things that help me take care of myself so that I can be strong for my son.  If I don’t stay on top of self care I quickly loose the ability to cope well and be the support my son needs.  Sometimes we might feel that intentionally doing things to take care of ourselves is selfish, but truly it is key.  If we don’t put our oxygen masks on we can’t help our child!

One important thing we can do to stay strong for our child is to get sleep!!  However, sleeping in a hospital room is NOT good sleep.  The beeping, the lights, the sounds, the uncomfortable couches and chairs all combine to make sleeping a challenge.  The constant ebb and flow of nurses in and out of the room, the care our child needs during the night and the stress of how they are feeling zap our ability to sleep well.  When I am not getting the sleep my body needs I begin to be unable to care for him like I want.  I get foggy, have headaches, have less patience and find myself being more emotional.  We need to get some sleep!

5 tips for getting better sleep while your child is in the hospital

  1. Sleep as much as you can during the night and grab a cat nap or two during the day.  A power nap can do wonders.  Follow the sage advice given to new mothers to sleep when their baby sleeps.  It. Really. Helps.
  2. Ask if the hospital has a white noise machine you can use in the room.  This will help both you and your child drown out the medical noises.  If they don’t have one available you can bring one with you or you can download a white noise app for your phone. If you use an app a blue tooth speaker can be helpful.  Instead of white noise you could play relaxing music or nature sounds.
  3. Utilize Ronald McDonald House (RMH) rooms.  Now I know that not all hospitals have nearby houses.  However, many of the larger children’s hospitals do have them.  We are fortunate to have one just blocks away from our Children’s Hospital.  If we are here for just a few nights I stay with my son in his hospital  room at night.  However, when the stay is going to stretch on for long periods of time the RMH is such a huge blessing.  I am able to go over and get much deeper sleep.  The nurses are fabulous and I know he is in good hands and that they will contact me during the night with anything I need to know.
  4. Trade out with another loved one so that you can go home and sleep a night in your own bed.  Of course this depends on if you live close enough to the hospital to make this feasible.  We live less than 2 hours from our Children’s Hospital so my husband and I tag team.  During the week days I stay with our son while he works and then he comes on the weekends.  If you don’t have a spouse to trade out with ask a grandparent, family member or friend that your child feels comfortable with.  I have learned that people that love us want to HELP us.  This is one way to let people help.  One night of sleep in your own bed will do wonders to recharge the body.
  5. Bring your own pillow and blanket from home.  Our bodies sleep much better when we are as comfortable as possible.  Our own pillow is especially comforting and helpful, but our own blanket can be very soothing.  Sometimes it is these little things that make BIG differences in the quality of sleep we get.  Do whatever helps!


I hope these 5 tips help!  It is NEVER easy to have a child in the hospital, but  know from many weeks of personal experience that lack of sleep exponentially makes things more challenging.  Give yourself, and your child, the gift of sleep.  You will be much more able to love and support your child during their medical challenge.

If you have a child with a health issue, my heart goes out to you!!

If you have any additional SLEEP TIPS please share them in the comments.  It is so good to learn from each other!!

Our motto this entire journey has been: GOD is BIGGER than leukemia.  YES, yes He is!  We are a praying family believing that Jesus is our Savior and our Healer.  I would be honored to pray for your child.  Please feel free to leave a comment so that I can join you in praying for your child.