Monday, July 22, 2024

The Rest is Yet to Come: Essential Sleep Strategies for Post-Surgery Recovery

Surgery is a difficult process Whilst it is not expected to be a walk in the park, the discomfort following the procedure can hinder your road to recovery, no matter the precautions you take. Sleep is the key to recovery. Above all, allowing your body the time to rest and replenish itself without the risk of further complications will streamline your getting back to good health. But, what happens when your sleep is so disturbed due to your discomfort, that your body is weakened and healing is slowed down? Sleep optimization is key here, and in this blog, we will share exactly what precautions you need to take following surgery to improve your sleep, despite any obstacles you may be facing. Take a look at the following suggestions:

Creating a Sleep Sanctuary

For a restful night of sleep, you first need to create a sleep sanctuary. You can not simply ignore the pain you might be feeling whilst trying to get a good night’s sleep, but you can make your environment a relaxing space to induce yourself into a state of rest.

Medical Pillows 

Depending on what type of surgery you have had, you might have been instructed to avoid sleeping in certain positions to keep the wound safe. For example, if you have opted for a facelift at Yapa Plastic Surgery, you will likely need a facial surgery recovery pillow to keep your head straight and avoid turning in your sleep. Not only will these types of pillows stop you from moving, but they will provide you with a much deeper level of comfort than a standard pillow. There are hundreds of variants of medical pillows that are tailored specifically for your surgery of choice. Find the right pillow for you, whether it is for comfort or keeping your healing area pressure-free, and feel the difference in comfort. 

Temperature Control

It is estimated that the optimal temperature for a room to host a good night’s sleep is 18.3 degrees Celsius. A cool room is the best room to send your body into a sleep state. Hot bedrooms can cause discomfort, more so for patients who are trying to sleep following surgery. If possible, try to keep your bedroom cool right before bed. Open your windows should the climate allow it right before you head to bed. Or, if you have the finances to spare, consider investing in air conditioning if your bedroom climate is constantly an issue.

Dark Lighting 

To delve into the science behind sleep, our sleep-wake cycles are largely regulated by exposure to light.

To put simply, the lighter your environment is, the more awake you will feel as our systems are wired to recognise bright light as an indicator for daytime. This works the opposite way, the darker your environment, the more melatonin (the sleep hormone) will be released to induce you into a dreamlike state for rest. The moral of the story is, if you are exposing yourself to bright lights before sleep (room lights, phone, television screens) the harder it will be for you to sleep. Invest in some dim lighting, and make sure you are off your phone at least an hour before you intend to sleep. 

Acoustic Therapy 

Last but certainly not least, you can also use relaxing sounds to settle you into a sleep state. From sound bowls to rain noises, there are several sleep tracks designed to lower you into your most relaxed state, ultimately guiding you through a good night’s sleep.

Prepping for Slumber

Your daytime routine can also dictate the quality of sleep following surgery. Straight after your surgery, depending on its complexity, you may be instructed to avoid moving around as much as possible. Much of the energy will be used to heal your surgery, however, your mind can still be racing which can cause insomnia. Consider the following daytime habits to support your night of rest:

Read To Relax

Reading is one of the best ways to distract your mind from anxiety you might be facing following your surgery. The pain is one factor that can distract your sleep, but also anxiety surrounding the recovery is another constructor for disrupted sleep. Read a non-fiction book that drifts your mind away from any immediate concern, as opposed to scrolling through your phone and getting a dopamine rush.

Eat Nutritious, Light Dinners 

Heavy evening meals can disrupt sleep, especially when eaten in close proximity to the time you lay your head to rest. Nutrition is especially imprint during this time of recovery, so it would be a good idea to follow a balanced and nutritious diet. Limit your carbohydrate intake in the evenings, and opt for proteins and micronutrient-rich foods that will help your damaged tissue and muscle build following the surgery. 

Sleeping with Pain (Because Sometimes It Happens)

Pain is to be expected following surgery recovery. It can be especially uncomfortable when you are finding the right position to sleep, and everything seems to hurt.

Elevate The Incision Site 

To prevent the possibility of blood clots it would be wise to elevate the incision site whilst sleeping. For example, if you have undergone a knee replacement, you should prop up some pillows to reduce the swelling and increase your comfort. Medical pillows will also play an important part here, as most of them offer this elevation as part of their design which might be the better option.

Pain Meds and Sleep Don’t Always Mix:

Always consult with your doctor or surgeon following your surgery regarding what painkillers are appropriate to take before bed. Some may interfere with sleep, so make sure you are following the correct procedures as per your doctor’s instructions. 


  • Listen to Your Body: If pain keeps you awake, don’t force sleep. Get up, read a book in dim light, or do some gentle stretches until you feel drowsy again.
  • Be Patient: Recovery takes time, and so does getting back to a normal sleep routine. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately.
  • Seek Help: If sleep disturbances persist despite your best efforts, talk to your doctor. They may be able to identify underlying issues or suggest additional strategies.

By prioritizing quality sleep, you’re giving your body the fuel it needs to heal and recover after surgery. So, embrace the rest, warrior! It’s not just a luxury, it’s a vital part of your post-surgical journey.

Bonus Tip: Consider investing in a comfortable recliner that allows you to sleep in a semi-upright position, which can be helpful for some surgeries.

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