Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2017: Time and Place

Things that go BONG! in the night

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 07 December 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5615
  1. Michael Farquhar, consultant in sleep medicine,
  2. Kirandeep van den Eshof, chief sleep physiologist
  1. Evelina London Children’s Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. Correspondence to: M Farquhar

Disrupted sleep studies caused by Big Ben serve as a reminder of the importance of environment in getting a good night’s sleep, say Michael Farquhar and Kirandeep van den Eshof

At midday on 21 August 2017, Big Ben, the bell at the heart of the great clock of the Houses of Parliament in London chimed 12 times and then fell silent. If all goes to plan Big Ben will not “bong” again until 2021, allowing essential repair and conservation work to be carried out. Its silencing was controversial, attracting even the prime minister’s concern. Across the Thames, however, at St Thomas’ Hospital we greeted the silence with enthusiasm.

The Evelina London Children’s Hospital Sleep Centre sits within St Thomas’ original pavilions. We carry out over 200 polysomnographies each year, enabling detailed analysis of children’s sleep to aid assessment and management of sleep difficulties.1 Even relatively minor factors can affect sleep quality. Polysomnography detects subtle disruptions to sleep that, cumulatively, can have major consequences.

Clearly audible throughout St Thomas’ Hospital, Big Ben has chimed a tune called …

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