The Best Ways To Sleep After ACL Surgery?


The best ways to sleep after ACL surgery is very much dependent on what works best for you

  • Sleep disturbance after ACL surgery is very common and can very from person to person.
  • Below we highlight some tips on the best way to sleep after ACL surgery. This of course is not just talking about the sleeping position itself but also what sort of discomfort you are likely to experience following on from an ACL reconstruction and what measures you can take to alleviate the discomfort.
  • Often the first few days of sleeping after ACL surgery are the toughest and it is common to struggle to find a comfortable sleeping position.
  • Sleeping can be a big issue for some people in the first 1 to 2 weeks in particularly. This initial phase of your ACL recovery timeline can be a challenging period for people who may only achieve small bouts of 2 to 4 hours of sleep at a time.
  • Knowing how to sleep after ACL surgery is about understanding what position works best for you to ensure that your body and knee gets the rest it requires to heal and recover.
  • Finding the right sleeping rhythm is especially important in the first 2 weeks after your operation when you are likely to experience the most discomfort.
  • Immediately following your ACL surgery your knee is likely to be heavily swollen and very sore.  In addition your knee will lack flexibility which makes finding a comfortable position all the more difficult.
  • However finding the right position that enables you to sleep effectively is important to ensure that you get an appropriate amount of sleep after ACL surgery.
  • Some surgeons may recommend wearing a splint brace to help you sleep after ACL surgery to protect the knee from any sharp unconscious movements whilst you are asleep. At first a knee splint may feel hot and uncomfortable when you wear it to bed
  • However many surgeons will not require you to wear a knee brace or splint either during the day or at night following ACL surgery

What can I do to improve my sleeping after ACL surgery?

The best ways to sleep after ACL surgery are achieved by applying a combination of measures before you go to bed. It’s not just your sleeping position that is important but also a number of other factors that when followed will greatly assist you with achieving a good nights sleep.

For simplicity we have broken this down into 4 helpful hints to help you sleep after ACL surgery:

Sleeping After ACL Surgery 1: Sleep in whatever position makes you comfortable

  • Sleep in whatever position makes you comfortable after ACL surgery.
  • Within the first few weeks sleeping on either your back or side are commonly considered to be the most comfortable positions.  These two sleeping positions are options to try in the first instance and see what works best for you.
  • However, there is no need to ‘only’ sleep on your back with the knee straight or on your side with a pillow between your knees.
  • Sleeping on your stomach may cause pain.
  • If you sleep on your side place a pillow between your legs.
  • Sleeping on your back is considered to be good position as it allows you to extend your knee out as straight as comfortable.
  • Sleeping on your side is a position that works well for many people. If you prefer to sleep on your side try inserting a pillow between your legs with the bad leg on the top side. This should help provide some relief

Sleeping After ACL Surgery 2: Take the painkillers medication and sleeping tablets you have been given

  • Take the painkillers and sleeping tablets that have been given to you by your doctor or surgeon
  • Often all that is required is a couple of paracetamol every six hours and for many people this is enough to reduce the pain
  • Over the counter sleeping pills may help if you feel you need them

Sleeping After ACL Surgery 3: Ice at night before you go to bed

  • Try icing before you go to bed not just because it is a highly effective method for decreasing knee swelling but also because icing takes the heat out of the knee and can assist with subsiding pain and discomfort caused by throbbing and heat within the knee.
  • Use a cryo cuff which which people find very comfortable and are effective in penetrating the knee from all angles. Use a standard ice or bag of peas if you do not have access to a cryo cuff.

Sleeping After ACL Surgery 4: Avoid wearing a knee immobiliser to bed

  • A knee immobiliser can make sleeping very hot and uncomfortable.  Unless your surgeon or doctor has advised you otherwise, consider removing the knee immobiliser prior to sleeping.
  • In fact a lot of surgeons will not require you to where a knee brace after ACL surgery either during the day or night.
  • There is a theory that sleeping in brace after ACL surgery is a high priority to help achieve full knee extension.  This is one key reason why some surgeons and physicians will recommend sleeping in brace in the immediate period after an ACL operation. However opinions on this point do differentiate.

 Video – The best ways to sleep after ACL surgery

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