How to Sleep After Shoulder Surgery


If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep in the days following your shoulder surgery, you’re not alone. Patients often find themselves wondering how they can possibly sleep with a sling after their shoulder surgery. That’s why the physicians at OrthoBethesda came up with these suggestions to help those recovering get back to pain-free sleep.

Tips for Sleeping Better After Shoulder Surgery

If you’re having trouble finding a comfortable way to sleep in bed after your shoulder surgery, try these tools to get yourself back to normal sooner.

Pain Medications

After your surgery, your doctor might prescribe a host of medications to provide pain relief and minimize swelling and discomfort. Take these as directed to avoid as much pain as possible. If you find that the pain keeps you up when you’re trying to fall asleep, try taking your medication 30 minutes before you go to sleep, giving the medication time to reach its full potential.

If your sleeping difficulties are severe, your doctor might also prescribe a sleeping aid or suggest an over-the-counter medication that causes drowsiness, like Benadryl or Tylenol PM.

Wearing Your Sling

Wearing a sling after any arm surgery is an essential part of recovery. Slings relieve tension and elevate your arm to the optimal healing position.

Many patients wonder if they can take their sling off to sleep. Nearly every doctor will tell you this is not advisable. Wearing a sling is what keeps you from overworking your shoulder or moving it too much while it heals. If you move around at all in your sleep, you could move your shoulder into a painful position that may worsen your injury.

If you feel your sling interferes with your ability to sleep, try propping your arm up with pillows or consult with your doctor for other options.

Sleeping on an Incline

In the days following your surgery, sleeping on a flat surface like your mattress might be more uncomfortable than any other position. Many patients need to sleep at an incline for four to six weeks after their operation. A recliner can keep your body upright and comfortable, providing the best position to sleep in after shoulder surgery.

If a recliner is not an option, use your pillows to prop yourself upright or consider an incline wedge from a medical supply store. This wedge will give you the elevation your arm needs to avoid painful sleeping positions.

Schedule Your Shoulder Surgery at OrthoBethesda

If you need assistance getting back on your feet after a shoulder injury, contact the experienced physicians at OrthoBethesda. Book your appointment today to get started, or contact us online to discuss your treatment options.

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