Sleeping after Surgery

Sleep disturbances after surgery are exceedingly common. This can be related to many factors including discomfort from the surgery, side effects of anesthesia, alterations in your daily routine, and anxiety related to your surgery. While some difficulty sleeping is inevitable, here are some basic strategies that may help.

General Tips

  • Avoid napping during the day time and establish a day to day routine.
  • Avoid any stimulants such as caffeine later in the day.
  • Avoid spending time in your bed that does not involved sleeping (ex: watching TV).
  • Consider relaxing evening activities such as listening to calm music, meditation, reading or warms showers (if permitted).
  • Relieve anxieties about your surgery or recovery by talking with a loved one or trusted friend.
  • Contact your doctor if your sleep disturbance is causing significant problems in your life including mood or behavior disturbances.

Sleeping and shoulder surgery

  • Shoulder surgery is known to have the ability to cause prolonged sleep disturbance.  Some studies have suggested that sleep disturbances can persist for several months after surgery.
  • Many patients find it easier to sleep in a recliner rather in their bed.
  • Propping your body up in bed with pillows can be helpful.
  • Supporting your operative arm with pillows can be helpful.
  • Performing your range of motion exercises or stretches, if permitted, can help alleviate some of the discomfort in your shoulder and help with sleep

Medications for Sleep

  • It is our preference to avoid using medications to help you sleep.  We do not want you to develop a reliance on them.  Additionally, while some of them may help you to fall asleep, they do not necessairly improve the quality of your sleep.
  • If some of our general tips do not work, benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an over the counter medication that can be tried for short periods of time.  It is not generally recommended for elderly patients.
  • Consult your primary care physician if you feel that stronger sleeping aids are needed