How To Sleep After Knee Replacement

3 min read

Does the prospect of sleeping after major surgery such as a knee replacement fill you with anxiety? Knee joint replacement is a routine surgery, but how will you be able to sleep postoperatively?

It’s normal to sleep on your back for the first six weeks after your surgery. You will need to prop your leg up, so it’s above your heart to help keep the swelling in check. After six weeks, you can sleep on the non-operative side with pillows between your legs.

Why can’t I sleep at night after knee replacement?

Insomnia is common postoperatively and can be caused by many factors, such as depression; it’s quite common for a person who has undergone major surgery to feel isolated and alone, particularly if your spouse is working during the day.

Painkillers are amazing drugs and give you the relief you need to get some quality sleep, but did you know painkillers can cause insomnia?

It’s a double-edge sword. You need the painkillers to be comfortable, yet they keep you awake. Some painkillers can make you feel drowsy, and then as you wean off the drug, your sleep pattern is disrupted once again.

The key is to find a way to sleep after knee replacement surgery. For the first six weeks, you will be sleeping on your back in a slightly elevated position.

Don’t cover your knee with bed linen which can be uncomfortable, and as you adjust the linen through the night, it can cause you to wake.

How to sleep after knee pain requires a little perseverance, so set yourself up for a good night’s rest.

Keep your room cool but not cold. A cool room is comfortable and conducive to sleep. Remove smartphones, laptops, and tablets, the light emitted from screens can mess with your circadian rhythm.

Avoid drinking coffee and regular tea to cut out the caffeine. Caffeine takes around 8 hours to work itself out of your system, making sleeping difficult. Many painkillers use caffeine as a filler, so you exacerbate the problem.

Can I put a pillow under my knee after knee replacement?

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Placing a pillow under your knee can cause problems in the recovery process, so it’s advised to elevate the leg by placing pillows under the ankle.

Sleeping and being comfortable after knee surgery can seem like a juggling act. It’s about tweaks and do’s and don’ts.

This is why it is essential to understand how to sleep after total knee replacement surgery.

The good news is that sleeping on your back is only for 6 weeks max, and your doctor may give you the green light to sleep on your non-operative side if you are recovering well from the surgery.

Most folks have no idea how important sleep is after surgery to enhance recovery. Sleep is a key factor in how fast you recover after major surgery, so you must do everything you can to make sure you can sleep properly through the night.

Avoid taking naps during the day; it’s easy to drift off while sitting in a chair with your leg elevated, and a power nap may seem like a great idea after a poor night’s sleep.

Refrain from napping during the day regardless of how tempting it is to drift off for 20 minutes or more.

Taking a nap in the day will disrupt your sleep pattern for the night, and you may find yourself awake in the early hours of the morning.

What is the most commonly reported problem after knee replacement surgery?

Difficulty sleeping comes out high on the list of problems after knee surgery and other complications such as pain and swelling. Your knee will be stiff for some time, and physiotherapy is crucial to regain the full motion of the knee.

Can you sleep on your side after partial knee replacement surgery?

It’s essential you know how to sleep after partial knee replacement surgery to enable you to rest well through the night.

With partial knee surgery, there is a silver lining to the cloud, and you can sleep on your side after a few weeks after surgery with great care and strategically placed pillows to prevent pain and protect the knee joint.

Clearly, you will need the green light from your doctor before you sleep on your side, and it is imperative you do not cross your surgical leg across the center line of your body, so pillows between the knees are essential.

After all knee surgeries, the best way to sleep is on your back. It helps the knee to heal, and with pain medication prescribed by your doctor you should be able to sleep just fine.

Obviously, sleeping on your belly is a big no and would only cause injury to your knee.

How to sleep after MPFL surgery

Having your ligament reconstructed is slightly different from a knee replacement when it comes to how you can sleep. 

What’s different? Your knee will be in a brace set at zero degrees to prevent you from bending your leg; you may need some help moving your leg around and certainly will need help to elevate the leg when in bed.

But learning how to sleep after MPFL surgery is relatively easy as you can lay on your back or side to sleep.

The use of pillows will be essential when laying on your back to elevate the knee above the heart to help prevent swelling.

While sleeping on your side, you will place a pillow between your knees to prevent pressure on the joints.

Pain medication will need to be taken at the prescribed intervals, so be prepared to set your alarm and wake up so you can take your meds as scheduled.

In addition to pain meds, regular icing around the incision areas will help to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Place ice packs on a clean dressing or towel and never directly on the skin.

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