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Improving Nighttime Environments for Children with Cancer


Cancer treatment is a challenging journey, especially for children. The clinical aspects of treatment are often prioritised with significant focus on medication and therapies. However, the environment in which children receive treatment, particularly during the night, plays a crucial role in their recovery and overall wellbeing. Ensuring a conducive nighttime environment is essential for children with cancer, as poor sleep can exacerbate symptoms like fatigue and even affect immune function and hormone regulation, which are critical for healing and growth.

The Role of Environmental Factors:

Research highlighted by Lauri A. Linder, PhD, APRN, CPON®, and Becky J. Christian, PhD, RN, in the study published in Cancer Nursing, underscores the impact of sound, light, and temperature on paediatric oncology patients (Linder & Christian, 2011). This study specifically focused on these environmental factors in the rooms of children undergoing chemotherapy, revealing that conditions often far exceed the recommended levels for conducive sleep.

Disturbances in the Night:

The nighttime hospital environment for children with cancer often disrupts much-needed rest due to intermittent and high levels of noise and inappropriate lighting. The study found mean nighttime sound levels at 49.5 dB with ranges spiking to 84.8 dB, much higher than the World Health Organisation’s recommended 35 dB limit. Light levels, while lower, often peaked early in the night, potentially delaying the onset of sleep.

Quote: “The intensities of sound and light levels required to perform necessary patient care may result in a disruptive nighttime care environment.” – Linder & Christian, 2011.

Strategies for Improvement:

To mitigate these disturbances, hospitals can implement several strategies:

  • Sound Management: Utilising sound-absorbing materials in walls and ceilings, setting ‘quiet hours’ with reduced operational noise, and optimising the sound of alarms to be less disruptive and minimising the length of time before alarms are responded to.
  • Lighting Adjustments: Employing dimmable LED lights that mimic circadian rhythms, using blackout curtains, and minimising unnecessary room entries that require overhead lights.
  • Temperature Control: Maintaining a comfortable room temperature conducive to sleep, typically between 18.3°C (65°F) and 21.1°C (70°F), as abrupt changes can disturb sleep patterns.

BEAMS: A Technological Aid:

Tutum Medical’s Bedside Equipment Alarm Monitoring System (BEAMS) can play a pivotal role in improving these environmental factors. By effectively identifying and ensuring a prompt and appropriate response to alarms, BEAMS ensures that only essential alarms disrupt the night, minimising unnecessary noise and interruptions. This system supports a more restful environment, allowing children to achieve better sleep quality, which is vital for their recovery and wellbeing.


Creating a nighttime environment that promotes rest and recovery is crucial for children undergoing cancer treatment. Hospitals need to focus on minimising noise and light disturbances along with maintaining an optimal temperature to support the immune system and enhance the healing process. With innovative solutions like BEAMS, healthcare providers can significantly improve the quality of care and potentially accelerate recovery outcomes by supporting the physiological and psychological needs of young patients.

If you’d like to know more, we’d love to hear from you. Why not contact us?


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