Getting a Good Night’s Sleep After Shoulder Surgery: Tips and Tricks

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep After Shoulder Surgery: Tips and Tricks

Preparing for Better Sleep After Shoulder Surgery

Getting a good night’s sleep after shoulder surgery can be challenging due to the pain and discomfort that comes with it. However, with proper preparation, you can improve your sleep quality and feel more rested. Here are some tips for preparing for better sleep after shoulder surgery:

Use Pillows to Properly Position Yourself

Properly positioning yourself with pillows before bed can alleviate pressure on your shoulder and provide you with a more comfortable sleep experience. Positioning a pillow under your affected arm can help reduce swelling and provide extra support. Placing a pillow between your arm and torso can also help keep the shoulder in a comfortable position. Additionally, using a body pillow can help keep your body in a position that doesn’t put excess pressure on your shoulder.

When positioning yourself with pillows, it’s important to avoid sleeping on your stomach since this can put strain on your healing shoulder. Instead, try sleeping on your back or your unaffected side.

Take Pain Medication as Prescribed

While pain medication can help alleviate discomfort and aid in getting a good night’s sleep, it’s important to take them as prescribed by your doctor. Taking too much or too little medication can have negative consequences. Speak to your doctor about your medication regimen and ensure you’re taking the right dose as prescribed.

Prepare Your Sleeping Environment

Preparing your sleeping environment can make a significant difference in your sleep quality. Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark by using blackout curtains or eye masks. Keep the temperature comfortable by adjusting the thermostat to your desired temperature. Additionally, avoid watching TV or using electronics before bed as the blue light can interfere with your sleep.

By properly preparing for better sleep after shoulder surgery, you can experience a more comfortable and restful sleep. Proper positioning with pillows, taking pain medication as prescribed, and preparing your sleeping environment are simple steps you can take to improve your sleep quality during recovery.

The Best Sleeping Position After Shoulder Surgery

If you have recently undergone shoulder surgery, you are probably experiencing some pain and discomfort. Getting enough sleep, particularly during the initial recovery period, is crucial to your overall well-being. Sleeping in the wrong position can worsen your shoulder pain, stunt your healing process, and prolong your recovery time. It is, therefore, essential to adopt the best sleeping position after shoulder surgery.

The most recommended and comfortable sleeping position after shoulder surgery is lying on your back. Sleeping on your back keeps your shoulders snug and in place, reducing the risk of improper alignment and allowing your body to rest in a natural position, hence reducing the pressure on your shoulder.

Supporting your arm and shoulder with pillows is paramount. Pillows help to cushion your affected side by providing support, which helps to reduce the pressure on your shoulders and arms. Using a combination of pillows, especially those that are specially designed for shoulder surgery patients, can also help you to maintain proper body alignment while sleeping and reduce the possibility of you rolling over to your side.

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Under no circumstances should you sleep on your stomach after shoulder surgery. Sleeping on your stomach can put undue pressure on your shoulders, which can be excruciating and may cause shoulder pain. Furthermore, sleeping on your side, especially the affected side, can also worsen your hangover and prolong your recovery process. In some cases, it may even require another surgery to correct the damage.

While lying on your back, it’s essential to maintain your head in a raised position. Use a pillow that is thick enough to create a slight incline and alleviate pressure on your shoulders. Sleeping with your head elevated can also help to regulate blood flow to the affected region. It also helps to prevent postoperative complications such as inflammation, infection, and blood clotting.

Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to your recovery process following shoulder surgery. By adopting the best sleeping position after shoulder surgery, you can reduce pain, accelerate the healing process and improve your overall well-being.

Tips for Pain Management During Sleep

Shoulder surgery can be a painful experience. Even after undergoing the procedure, there may be lingering discomfort that can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re looking for ways to manage pain during sleep after shoulder surgery, here are some helpful tips to consider.

Take Pain Medication

Pain medication prescribed by your doctor is a great option when dealing with post-surgery pain. Make sure to take medication as directed before going to bed to help relieve discomfort during sleep. Depending on the medication, it may cause drowsiness, which can assist in falling asleep as well.

Use an Ice Pack

An ice pack can help reduce any inflammation lingering after surgery, which can help decrease the amount of pain you feel during the night. Wrap a cloth around the ice pack to avoid direct contact with your skin, and place it on the affected area for 10-15 minutes before going to bed. This will help calm down any inflamed tissue and soothe the area before sleep.

Stick with Physical Therapy

Your doctor will likely recommend physical therapy as a means of recovery after shoulder surgery. Make sure to stick with the program prescribed by your therapist, as it can be an essential part of pain management during sleep. Strengthening the muscles surrounding your shoulder can help reduce pain and discomfort, allowing you to sleep more comfortably as you recover.

Incorporate Proper Sleeping Positions

It is important to keep your shoulder immobilized following surgery. Depending on the type of procedure, you may need to wear a sling or brace. It is vital to make sure to adjust the sleeping position to avoid putting undue pressure on the healing shoulder. Ensure that you are sleeping in a comfortable and safe position, and talk to your doctor or physical therapist for further recommendation.

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Invest in a Comfortable Mattress and Pillows

Investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows can work wonders for shoulder pain relief. Consider buying an adjustable bed to help elevate your shoulder when sleeping. Adding a pillow to support your arm and neck can also reduce shoulder pain while sleeping.


Healing can be a long and painful process, but following these tips can help you navigate the challenging time after shoulder surgery. With proper pain management, you can get the rest and sleep your body needs to recover quickly and smoothly.

Other Factors That Affect Sleep After Shoulder Surgery

Aside from pain and discomfort, other factors can affect the quality of your sleep after shoulder surgery. Here are some of the most common:

Difficulty Reaching

After surgery, you may find it difficult to reach certain areas, such as your face or hair. This can lead to frustration and anxiety, which can keep you awake at night. If you’re struggling to reach something, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Your doctor or physical therapist can provide you with tips and tools that can make this easier.

Sudden Movements

It’s important to avoid sudden movements after shoulder surgery, as these can cause pain and further damage to your shoulder. Unfortunately, sudden movements can happen during sleep, especially if you tend to toss and turn throughout the night. To minimize the risk of injury, try to sleep in a position that keeps your affected arm still. Use pillows to support your arm and keep it in a comfortable position.

Awkward Positions

If you sleep on your side, you may find it difficult to find a comfortable position after shoulder surgery. Sleeping on the affected side can be painful, and sleeping on the opposite side can put additional strain on your shoulder. To find a comfortable position, try using a body pillow to support your arm and torso. Alternatively, you can try sleeping in a recliner or on your back with a wedge pillow to elevate your upper body.


Surgery can be a stressful experience, and it’s common to experience anxiety or depression afterwards. These feelings can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. To manage anxiety, try practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. You can also talk to your doctor about medications or therapy to help manage your symptoms.

Noise and Light

If you’re staying in a hospital or a noisy environment, noise and light can make it difficult to sleep at night. Ask for earplugs or a white noise machine to help block out distractions. You can also try using an eye mask to block out light and create a dark, peaceful environment for sleep.

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By addressing these factors and working with your doctor on a comprehensive sleep management plan, you can maximize your chances of getting a restful night’s sleep after shoulder surgery.

The Importance of Patience and Consistency

After shoulder surgery, it is common to experience discomfort and pain that can interfere with your sleep. It is crucial to develop a routine and consistent sleep schedule to assist with your recovery. Recovery after surgery requires a great deal of patience, and your sleep schedule is no exception. Developing a consistent sleep routine and maintaining good sleep hygiene habits will significantly improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest after shoulder surgery.

Keep Your Sleep Environment Comfortable

Creating a comfortable sleep environment can go a long way in ensuring that you sleep soundly following shoulder surgery. Make sure your sleeping area is as comfortable as possible by ensuring that your bed is supportive and comfortable by investing in pillows that can support your shoulders, neck, and head. Additionally, keep the room at a cool temperature, use comfortable sheets, and pick a comfortable mattress to promote comfortable and undisturbed sleep.

Use Medications and Pain Management Techniques

Pain can significantly disrupt your ability to sleep comfortably. If you experience pain that interferes with your sleep, talk to your doctor about pain management techniques and medication options that can help relieve pain and discomfort, allowing you to sleep better. While pain medications can be helpful, it is important to use them as directed and not rely on them longterm to avoid dependence and addiction.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and stretching can significantly reduce stress and anxiety while promoting relaxation, which is essential for better quality sleep. Incorporate these techniques into your bedtime routine to enhance your chances of getting a more restful sleep.

Follow Your Postoperative Instructions

Your surgeon would have provided you with postoperative instructions to ensure that you heal correctly. Following these instructions is vital to your recovery and can affect your sleep quality. Failing to follow postoperative instructions can lead to complications that can disrupt your ability to sleep comfortably. Make sure you understand and follow all guidelines given to you by your surgeon to avoid any complications that can affect your sleep after shoulder surgery.


Sleep is vital when it comes to healing and is essential after shoulder surgery. By consistently practicing good sleep habits such as maintaining a comfortable sleep environment, using medication and pain management techniques, and following postoperative instructions, you can significantly improve your chances of getting a good night’s rest as you continue to recover from shoulder surgery.

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