The Best Sleeping Positions After Back Surgery

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 14, 2019

Sleep Position Spine

Sleeping is a restorative process that allows your mind and body to recover from the stresses of the day. A lot of healing takes place while you’re sleeping, but if you’re not careful, you can also stress and strain your body if you end up falling asleep in an awkward position. It’s not all that hard to find a comfortable position in which to fall asleep, but it does become a little harder if you’ve just undergone spinal surgery. However, if you are aware of which positions help to take stress off your spine, you may be able to achieve a more restful sleep.

For the best sleeping tips, talk to the surgeon who performed your operation. While the following tips are generally helpful for a number of common spine procedures, your spine surgeon will be able to give you advice tailored to your specific situation, which is better than general advice. With that said, here’s a general look at the best sleeping positions after spine surgery.

Sleeping After Spine Surgery

If you’re struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position following back surgery, here are two positions that generally help to keep pressure off your back.

  • Sleeping On Your Side – Probably the most common sleeping position recommendation following spine surgery is for the patient to sleep on their side with their knees bent and a pillow or blanket tucked between their legs. You’ll also want to avoid sleeping with your arms underneath your head or neck. This position really helps to decrease the pressure on your lower back and spinal discs. Also, you want a pillow that’s thick enough to provide support, but not so big that it’s actually pushing your neck out of a naturally relaxing position.
  • Sleeping on Your Back – Believe it or not, the other position that helps to limit stress on your spine is when you’re sleeping on your back. When sleeping on your back, bend your knees slightly and tuck a pillow or blanket underneath. Keep your arms at your sides and avoid putting them over your head, as this will stress your shoulders. Some stress will be channeled towards the middle of your back in this position, but if you’ve had a lumbar or cervical procedure, you shouldn’t have a problem in this sleeping position.

You want to avoid sleeping on your stomach following an operation because this position naturally channels stress to your lumbar spine and your spinal discs. Other tips that you may find helpful when trying to achieve restful sleep after spine surgery include:

  • Limiting naps throughout the day.
  • Sleeping on a firm or medium-firm mattress.
  • Have someone nearby to assist getting in and out of bed.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day, and keep distractions like phones or television out of the bedroom.
  • Talk to your doctor about muscle relaxers or sleep aids if falling asleep or staying asleep remains difficult.

Discomfort doesn’t have to impact your sleeping ability after spine surgery. For more tips, or to talk to a spine surgeon about your back pain, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.

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