How to Sleep Comfortably With a Knee Brace On?

5 min read

If you have a knee injury or even after knee surgery, you may be required to wear a supporting knee brace for a while.

So the question is can you sleep with a knee sleeve on? The answer is yes, but there are some ways to maximize your comfort when sleeping with a knee sleeve or knee brace.

Knee pain can be excruciating either from an injury or surgery, and the knee is not a joint that can be rushed when it comes to healing.

When you have knee pain, you should lay flat on your back and sleep in a supine position. Place a pillow under the injured knee for comfort and to reduce strain. When sleeping on your side, use a pillow between the legs to prevent pressure on the inner knee and align your pelvis muscles and joints.

The Best Position For Sleeping With A Knee Brace

In all cases sleeping on your back with a knee brace will provide the most relief from your injuries and strains. Sleeping on your back will allow you to support the knee brace if needed from the back of the knee, removing pressure from ligaments.

There are many types of medicine supported by physiotherapists with differing support and comfort. If you have a physio, speak to them and be advised which is best for you.

In most cases, you will have the support of a pillow. Again you will need to decide if a soft medium pillow is the best for reducing pain in the knee.

Occasionally, your standard pillows just won’t be sufficient to provide the correct height and support needed. Often flatter pillows can provide pain relief and support.

Managing Pain

Pain management is critical with a knee injury, and with knee support for sleeping you’ll be immobilized, but you still might have pain issues that need to be addressed.

First, let’s focus on the knee and how you will get a good night’s rest.

Assuming you have had expert medical advice, it is now down to you to make the best of a bad situation. Your doctor or surgeon will have prescribed pain killers to be taken at regular intervals, take as prescribed, and don’t deviate. From experience, you are going to need pain management.

If possible, take a relaxing warm shower before bedtime. The shower will make you feel fresh and more likely to sleep.

With your knee brace off, apply ice as recommended by your doctor or physio. Icing the knee is very important for reducing inflammation and swelling, contributing to the pain you experience.

Hopefully, you have had your leg elevated through the day. This may be more difficult laying in bed, as the knee will want to try and flex in the wrong direction, which will increase pain and discomfort.

Support your knee while lying on your back with a pillow.

Best Type Of Mattress For Sleeping With Knee Brace 

Without any contradiction sleeping on a memory, a foam mattress will be the most comfortable solution for wearing a knee brace while sleeping.

You may still need to support the knee from the back, and if you have a memory foam pillow, this will provide the support needed and comfort.

Over time and with physiotherapy, you will be able to lay straight on the bed without your knee being supported and only using the knee brace. But until that time comes, keep the knee supported as much as you feel comfortable with.

Sleeping on your back through the night will promote blood circulation to the injured joint, enhancing the healing process.

You may find that supporting your calf muscle and your knee will help drain any fluid build-up around the joint.

Sleep With A Pillow Between Your Knees For Support

If you are not a back sleeper, then I would first suggest you persevere. Studies show that lying in this prone position provides the best support.

If you find sleeping on your back the whole night an impossible task, sleep on the side of your suitable knee.

It would be advisable to sleep with a pillow between your legs for a couple of reasons. The pillow will relieve and prevent a pressure point from having your knees together. Depending on your knee injury and the pain levels you experience, it may be impossible to sleep on your side without a supportive pillow.

The pillow will also keep your hips aligned which will benefit you as your body may have been compensated for your injury-causing further strain on different muscle groups.

A pillow between your legs will tend to fix your sleeping position and prevent you from attempting to toss and turn during the night.

It’s worth saying that there are specific knee injuries that you can only lay on your back. If you have a cruciate ligament injury or tear, then back sleeping is the best for you.

Side sleeping will be a big no for you. Always take the advice of your medical professionals.

You will have no doubt been given the RICE procedure to follow and for a good reason.

Pain Reduction, RICE Method

If you have not heard of rice and are wearing a knee brace to sleep, this section will be invaluable.


The body needs rest to heal, mainly when it is injured. Resting your body and your knee will help your recovery. Other ways to rest the knee are to use crutches, keep the weight off the joint as much as possible.

The more rest you have, the less pain you will feel at night when you need to sleep.


Ice is a traditional way of providing relief to injuries, and your knee is no different. Applying a cold compress to the joint as specified by your doctor will provide temporary pain relief and residue inflammation around the joint.

In some cases, it is recommended that alternate ice and heat compresses be used to promote blood flow and reduce pain.

Icing the knee is an essential part of your recovery and can be done before sleeping if required.


Your knee brace has been supplying the compression, supporting the joint and ligaments. Compression also limits the fluid build-up and reduces pain.

It’s worth noting that your knee brace is a supporting device and, therefore, should not be excessively tight as to cut off or restrict the flow of blood to the lower leg. Blood flow is essential to the healing process.


Elevating the knee will allow any fluid build-up to drain gently back into the lymphatic system and drain from your body in the usual way.

When laying on the bed, elevate the leg supporting the knee so the leg elevation closely aligns with the heart. It’s only inches but will make a big difference in the speed of healing and reducing swelling.

Choosing the Correct Knee Brace

Not many people know this, but choosing the correct knee brace is not as hit and miss as you may have thought.

There is a sizing chart, and I’m sure your physio will let you see it. That details the correct size and diameter of the knee brace based upon the knee measurement when flexed in a particular position.

A professional can make a rapid assessment by y looking at your and deciding what’s the correct knee brace is.

There are different knee braces for different injuries, so make sure you get the proper support needed.

All of these factors will play a significant part in how fast you heal from your injury and how well you can sleep while wearing a knee brace in bed.

Prevent Chafing

Knee braces seem to be exclusively made from Neoprene these days, and although Neoprene is a soft material, it can cause some chafing at the pressure points where the brace is giving the most support.

Moisturizing these areas will make you more comfortable.

Keep your knee brace clean from sweat and other grime that may build up. Most knee braces are machine washable and, due to their construction, dry in no time.

Overheating is a concern through the night with a knee brace and can become very uncomfortable if the knee becomes very hot, usually a symptom of inflammation.

Keep the knee cool if possible and allow it to breathe when less support is needed.


It is possible to get a good night’s sleep in the bed while wearing a decent knee brace and the support required around the knee as described above.

Mattresses play a significant role, and the better the mattress, the better the night will be. If you have a memory foam mattress, you can expect the best night’s sleep possible under the circumstances of your knee injury.

Memory foam pillows provide excellent support for the knee if sleeping on your back or side.

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