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What’s The Best Sleeping Position After Shoulder Surgery? (5 Tips For Painless Sleep) – The Bedding Planet

What’s The Best Sleeping Position After Shoulder Surgery? (5 Tips For Painless Sleep)

If you have undergone shoulder surgery, you must have realized that you experienced more pain at night. And there are a plethora of reasons for this.

Once we sleep, it is obvious you will bend on one or both arm, sleep on one side, or regularly move as you try to find the best sleeping position. All these movements subject your shoulders to excessive pressure. This is even worse if you sleep on a mattress that does not provide your body’s maximum support.

After a shoulder surgery you want to reduce any excessive stress put on the shoulder, and this starts with knowing what the best sleeping position are.

So, what are the best sleeping position after a shoulder surgery?

After shoulder surgery, sleeping on an inclined surface is the best option. You’ll probably feel most at ease upright on a recliner for the first few nights.

When you get back into bed, try stacking a few pillows or using an angled wedge pillow to maintain a 45-degree slope for your upper body. To maintain the correct alignment of the injured arm, place another pillow beneath its back. After rotator cuff repair, the shoulder must be properly positioned for four to six weeks to heal.

Continue reading to learn some additional tips that you can use to sleep as pain free as possible after a surgery.

Sleeping Tips After Shoulder Surgery

1. Attempt to sleep in a reclined position

As mentioned earlier, this procedure is fantastic when you are recovering from surgery and experiencing swelling and discomfort. Your entire shoulder girdle will feel less strain if you sleep in a reclining position. This will direct more of gravity’s pull toward your hips, which are your center of mass.

Sleeping on a recliner chair, such as a Lazyboy, or on a 45-degree wedge pillow for a few weeks is the best thing you can do post surgery.

2. Sleep on your back or a side that hasn’t had surgery

Sleeping on your back or side that hasn’t had surgery is obviously the right thing to do as sleeping on the operated side will cause a lot of pressure and make the healing process take longer.

Try the following if sleeping on your back causes discomfort: Hugging one cushion and placing another under the shoulder blade that is hurting. Put a pillow under the injured arm if you are sleeping on your non-surgical side without the sling. By doing this, the shoulder will be kept from lying forward.

3. Apply cold packs before going to bed

In order for your body’s healing process to function at its best, managing your shoulder pain or soreness before bed makes it simpler to fall asleep and stay asleep. Apply cold packs on the shoulder. It can help you fall asleep comfortably by reducing inflammation, dulling the discomfort, and providing brief relief if you apply an ice pack to your sore shoulder about 30 minutes before bed.

To avoid frostbite or irritation, avoid applying anything cold to your hurting shoulder without first wrapping it in a soft cloth or towel.

Keep the ice cubes or crushed ice on your shoulder for about 15 minutes until the area becomes numb, and the discomfort is reduced.

Use a bag of frozen vegetables or fruit from your freezer if you don’t have any ice.

The advantage of the cold treatment is that it can last for 15 to 60 minutes, which is typically long enough for you to drift off to sleep.

4. Use a shoulder sling with an abductor pillow

To raise the shoulder away from the body, you prop it up with an abductor pillow, which is fastened to your sling and sits against your stomach/hip. In this position, which is referred to as an “open-pack posture,” the joint is at its most relaxed and benefits from good blood and nutrient flow.

You can get one of these on Amazon here.

You can tuck a cushion under your armpit when you are not wearing the sling. Fold the pillow if it doesn’t feel thick enough.

5. Place one pillow under your rib cage, and one at your head

Do not give up if you have tried every possible solution and are still forced to sleep on the injured shoulder. Hope exists! This tactic is straightforward but calls for several pillows. A minimum of three to four firm pillows are required. Put a pillow above your head and one under your ribs while lying on your side.

You should be able to rest your shoulder in the space between the two pillows. The strain on your shoulder will be lessened because the weight will be shared between the two pillows. But if you’re still uneasy, try placing another pillow behind your back and bending slightly into it.

How Long Do I Need to Sleep in a Certain Way After a Shoulder Surgery?

After a single shoulder operation, one should spend the first four to six weeks sleeping on an inclined surface.

The most comfortable position for most patients recovering from shoulder surgery is the reclining position because it eases strain on the shoulder joint and the nearby soft tissues. To strengthen your lower and middle back, lie on the bed in a reclined position with a few cushions. Compared to lying back in bed with a pillow, this may be more comfortable.

How Can I Avoid Sleeping on a Certain Side?

You have a better chance of discovering a technique that works for you if you try a variety of approaches to learning to sleep on your side.

The easiest and most widely used technique is to merely place a pillow next to you. According to the theory, the pillow is meant to block you when you roll over. Place the pillow behind your back if you frequently turn over. Put the pillow beneath your arm in front of you if you tend to roll onto your stomach while sleeping. Some persons may also position a pillow beneath or between the knees.

Another typical practice is to attach a tennis ball with tape or sewing to the shirt you wear at night. The tennis ball should be placed in the front of the shirt for stomach sleepers and the back for back sleepers, just like the pillow. The tennis ball is so uncomfortable when you roll over that you automatically roll back to your side.

You might also try spending a few nights sleeping on a cot, air mattress, or a very narrow sofa. Because there is less room to move, this will teach your body to sleep on its side. Use this technique with caution if you toss and turn or are a heavy sleeper, though, since you might find yourself on the floor.

You can also consider looking at items designed to keep you on your side while you sleep. You can maintain your side posture with the use of lumbar pillows, multi-position pillows, or half-moon bolster pillows. To prevent you from lying on your back or stomach, even products that you fasten around your waist have foam supports. Positional sleep aids are the common name for these.

Can I Lay Down on The Affected Side After Shoulder Surgery?

Taking precautions to prevent rolling over onto your healing shoulder and further injuring it if you plan to sleep in your bed following shoulder surgery is crucial. If you prefer to sleep on your side, prop yourself up with pillows behind you so that you don’t roll over throughout the night.

Why Does Shoulder Surgery Hurt More at Night?

Bursitis, tendinitis, and rotator cuff injuries are the three conditions that might aggravate shoulder discomfort during the night. This is because both types of inflammation, especially when the region is squeezed, can tug on the shoulder joint (as when laying on your side in bed).

Your shoulder may become uncomfortable and stiff as a result.

Can I Take my Sling off to Sleep?

No. Only take off your sling when getting dressed and taking a shower. This helps prevent you from unintentionally positioning your arm incorrectly and awaking in excruciating discomfort. Speak with your provider if you are having trouble sleeping while wearing a sling; they may know some methods or recommendations.


Now, your recovery should be improved  by our suggestions for sleeping after shoulder surgery. Don’t give up if it takes several months for the sleeping discomfort to go away completely. As you get back to more regular sleeping patterns, keep working to enhance your range of motion and surround yourself with positive, calming people.

Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas and I'm the author and content operator at The Bedding Planet. I've always had a big interest in bedding and more specifically sleep. If I find something that makes me sleep better, whether that's a lifestyle change or a better bedding environment, I'm ready to share it with the world!

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