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Are you sleeping well during your recovery?


Sleep is as important in recovering from an illness/surgery as is rehab. If you don’t get enough sleep you will feel pain more, which limits your ability to function. Because of increased pain, people often take more pain medications, which often limits mental activities. Also, people heal while they are sleeping. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 6 hours a night have increased levels of inflammatory proteins, and you are already battling inflammation from your injury/surgery. Lack of sleep decreases your mental and physical performance – which plays into all aspects of your life, creativity, work, school, play. When you are fatigued you tend to ingest more sugar and caffeine to stay awake, and both can sabotage your weight loss plans.

Patients often complain of pain limiting their ability to sleep. The best way to resolve this issue is to determine a way to support yourself in a way that eliminates or decreases the pain. Try using pillows under the knees, arms, or a roll under the neck. If you prefer to sleep on your side, sleeping with a big body pillow often helps. Some people find sleeping in a recliner or antigravity chair helps right after surgery.

To help get to sleep create a ritual that you do every night. For example, turn out lights, set alarm, take warm bath/shower, clean face, etc. Then go to bed. Maybe read with a lamp. Make sure that you do not use your bed for lounging around during the day. Keep the bed for sleeping, and your body will remember that. For an hour (or more if you can!) stay away from computers, TV, and phones – the lighting from electronics stimulates you, decreasing your ability to sleep. Some people use white noise to help with sleep, e.g., fans running. There is even an app for that!

If pain is keeping you awake, and you have tried different things (and especially if pain is waking you up at night) you need to get that checked out. Pain is there to tell you something is wrong; figure out what it is, and fix it.

Have a good night!


Cheryl Jeane, PT


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