How To Sleep With A Cast On Your Leg

5 min read

Sleeping with a cast on your leg can be painful and irritating. If you think sleeping with a cast is bad news, it’s not. The bad news is you are likely to wear the cast for six to eight weeks.

To sleep comfortably with a cast on your leg, elevate it with pillows, and It’s important to take painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines prescribed by your doctor. Also, improve your sleeping environment to help induce sleep.

Medication

A broken leg can cause considerable pain without question, and without medication, the pain could become intolerable.

Your doctor will have prescribed painkillers and possibly anti-inflammatory drugs. Take the drugs as prescribed and do not skip the painkillers at bedtime.

Some painkillers will make you tired and assist in falling into a deep sleep for the night.

Painkillers can have side effects, and you should be aware you may have less cognitive ability depending on the strength of the painkiller.

Other side effects may include mood swings, nausea, and more. If your painkillers are not working for you, consult with your doctor.

As the weeks pass and your bones are healing, you may decide to switch to over-the-counter medications. They have fewer side effects but are not as potent.

Sleeping With A Partner

Depending on the size of your bed, your partner may have to sleep on a different bed for a few weeks to give you the room needed to be safe in bed.

You will also have the monopoly of the pillows and may need several to make your leg comfortable while at the same time offering enough support when your leg is elevated.

Your partner will understand your predicament and provide you with nursing service, at least for the first few days.

Sleeping Position

The best sleeping position to adopt is lying on your back. You can get good support and prevent additional pain from moving around.

Sleep in the center of the bed. This prevents falling out of bed and aggravating the injury.

The first few weeks of wearing a cast, your leg will be susceptible to swelling, which obviously will make the cast tight and cause discomfort.

To combat swelling, it is advised to elevate the leg above the heart while laying down in bed. The higher the elevation, the better for dispersing any fluids that are causing the swelling.

Can I Sleep On My Side?

Side sleeping may not be possible for the first few weeks as the broken bones form back together. 

However, if you find it impossible to sleep on your back, it is possible to sleep on your side. You will need plenty of pillows for support. Depending on the location of the bone break, you may need to support the leg from thigh to ankle.

If the bone break is in the lower leg, you will need pillows to support the leg from the knee. The added weight of the cast may cause strain on the knee joint, so support is needed to prevent additional problems.

You can still elevate your leg even if you sleep on your side.

Create A Safe Environment For Sleep

If we assume you have found your best possible sleeping position with your leg in a cast, then the next step is to create a sleeping environment where you are safe.

Surrounding your body with blankets or a duvet will help you feel more secure when you are sleeping.

The primary purpose of surrounding yourself with blankets is to create a barrier to prevent you from rolling. 

It’s a good idea to sleep in the center of the bed. Sleeping in the center will prevent you from falling out of bed should you enter deep sleep.

Sleep In A Peaceful Bedroom

If you have managed to climb the stairs and lay on your bed, there is a chance you may stay in the bedroom for a couple of weeks, if not longer.

Because you are immobilized for several weeks to all intents and purposes, you will have your laptop and other electrical gadgets in your bedroom to keep you occupied.

However, when it comes to sleep time, the light emitted from the screens is not only distracting but will prevent you from sleeping.

Switch laptops and phones before you sleep, have someone remove them from the room so there is no light emitted from the objects.

Maintain A Cool Environment

Having your leg encapsulated in a cast is not a fun time, so self-help to sleep and feel comfortable is essential.

A bedroom at around twenty degrees celsius is a perfect temperature for sleeping, and with your leg, in a cast, you will know keeping the leg cool is a big help when it comes to comfort.

A cool room will help you sleep and help your leg not to sweat in the cast. If your leg is irritated and sweaty, you can try to blow air into the cast with a hairdryer in a cold setting.

There is usually enough gap between your leg and the casting if your leg is not swelling to force some cool air around your leg.

There are some anti-itch sprays on the market specifically designed for stopping the inevitable itch. You may decide to try these, but a plastic ruler does a great job. I doubt if the spray can reach deep in the cast.

Wear Lightweight Clothing

If you wear pajamas in bed, you will have more than likely ditched the bottoms or cut the leg off to accommodate the cast.

Be sure to wear lightweight, breathable fabrics, allowing you to remain comfortable or, better still, sleep naked or with boxer shorts. If you feel chilly, it’s easy to pull a cover over your upper body. 

RICE

Not all aspects of rice will apply to you, like icing your leg is impossible. Still, there are very relevant aspects, and it is advisable to use this injury protocol.

Rest

One of the main factors in recovering from an injury is to have enough quality rest. You will find it hard to exert yourself but hobbling around on crutches like Long John Silver will not be considered quality rest.

For at least halfway through the healing process, try to rest and keep off the crutches as much as possible. Jolting the joint will only extend the healing period.

Ice

If you have a traditional plaster cast, then icing is not possible, but depending on the type of fracture you have and its location, you may have been given a plastic boot to immobilize the bones. 

In this condition, icing is possible with the authorization of your doctor. Icing will reduce the swelling along with some of the pain. For lesser injuries, icing is an essential part of the recovery process and something you may consider using when your cast is removed.

Compression

With a cast on your leg, this part of the protocol is not an option. But lesser injuries compression offers support to ligaments and prevents swelling from occurring.

Elevation

We have discussed elevating your leg above your heart while sleeping. To reiterate, elevation will help with swelling preventing blood pooling around the injury. This will make the cast tolerable to wear.

So we are elevating the leg and cast while we sleep, but what about during the wake hours? Well. Elevate your leg at every opportunity you get.

Your injury will benefit, and your leg will feel more comfortable inside your cast. Without elevating your leg, you may have to return to the emergency department and have your leg recast as the original cast was restricting blood supply due to the swelling.

The Bottom Line

Breaking a leg and wearing a cast is a horrible experience, but you need to make the best of it if you are in that situation. 

With medication and your leg elevated, you will be able to get a decent night’s sleep regardless of feeling restricted in your movements.

Being safe is incredibly important as a stumble or fall from the bed could see you back to square one and in pain. Take the advice and sleep in the center of the bed with enough support around your body to prevent rolling in bed.

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