Sleeping After Orthopedic Surgery

One of the most common complaints after an orthopedic surgery is difficulty sleeping or just not being able to get comfortable enough for sleep. Sleeping after orthopedic surgery is a very important part of the healing process and our bodies need as much sleep as possible in order to keep us in a healthy state of healing. Here are a few pointers that may help with getting a good night’s sleep after your orthopedic surgery.

  • Slings and Immobilizers – These are very important when it comes to orthopedic shoulder surgeries specifically. They can be uncomfortable but necessary for proper support and healing for the first 6 weeks following your surgery.


  • Props – Pillows and folded blankets make great supportive props to make finding a comfortable position for sleep easier.


  • Recliners – Many patients prefer to sleep in a recliner for the first few weeks after their orthopedic surgery. This allows for a comfortable yet supportive surface for sleeping after a surgery.


  • Icing – Utilizing ice prior to sleep can help decrease pain and soreness and aid relaxation. Use an ice pack over the region for 10 minutes 1 hour before sleeping to help numb the area. If you don’t have an ice pack, don’t worry, making one is easy! All you need is a gallon size ziploc bag, 4 cups of water, and 2 cups of rubbing alcohol. Pour the contents in the ziploc bag and place it in the freezer for 1 day to solidify. These ice packs are reusable and formable to whatever region it is needed for.  Refer to THIS blog for details.


  • Essential oils – Defusing essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, and vetiver in your environment can help aid sleeplessness and tension by helping increase relaxation.


These are simple yet effective ways to help combat sleepless nights after your surgery. If sleep continues to be a bothersome issues contact your physical therapist or physician for further suggestions. A sleep aid medication might be a better option for you.

If you have any other questions, give us a call at (828) 348-1780.


Christopher Taylor, PT

Chris Taylor is the Founding Physical Therapist at PHYSIO Physical Therapy and Wellness Asheville. He has been voted Best Physical Therapist in Western North Carolina every year by the Mountain XPress Reader Poll. His experience includes being a patient himself which deepens his understanding of each aspect of the rehab process. He has lived and worked in 11 states which contributes to the treatment style he has developed which breaks the mold. Become a better You today! #KeepAshevilleActive