From changing exam times to turning down lights, a USA Today report examines the measures hospitals are taking to improve patient sleep.

Nine-year-old McKenna Meuller of Los Angeles used to hate when she had to go to the hospital to get treated for her lung infections. All night long she’d get poked and prodded, leaving her feeling worse-off than if she’d stayed at home.

Then Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA changed its policies in the intensive care unit and began prioritizing patient sleep.

Lights in the hallways were turned down at 10 p.m. A nurse helped McKenna’s mom, Amanda, move a sleeper chair right next to the hospital bed so she wouldn’t have to get out of bed if her daughter needed comfort. Staff grouped their visits, so rather than disrupting her sleep twice they’d check McKenna’s vitals when they came in to give her the albuterol she needed to get her lungs working better.

This change is part of a growing national recognition among hospitals that sleep is crucial for healing.

Although that idea seems obvious to anyone who has ever had a bad cold, hospitals have traditionally been designed around the need to gather information and check in on patients — according to the caregivers’ schedule.

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