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Sleep after joint surgery might require some adaptive measures.


Advice to Help you Sleep After Joint Surgery

Sleep after joint surgery can be elusive. Yet, it’s more important than ever to get adequate sleep to help your body to heal. After all your body is adapting to a major change. Here are some ideas to help you sleep after joint surgery.

The best positions to sleep in after joint surgery

Discomfort and pain are the reason most patients have a hard time falling and staying asleep after surgery.  As a result, many of us move around in an effort to get comfortable.  This may not be the most helpful approach to sleeping after joint replacement surgery.

Here are some sleep positions for common joint surgeries that will keep you most comfortable and well-rested:

Sleeping after hip surgery


  • Sleep on your back with a pillow between your knees. Avoid crossing your surgical leg across the middle of your body.
  • Sleep on your non-operative side with pillows between your legs. Avoid bending your knees.


  • Sleep on your stomach.
  • Sleep with pillows under your knees.
  • Turn or twist your leg or toes inward.
  • Cross your legs and ankles.

Sleeping after knee surgery


  • Prop your surgical leg up with 2-3 pillows and sleep on your back.
  • Sleep so your operating side faces the ceiling.


  • Sleep on your stomach. This puts pressure on top of the knee and could irritate your wound.
  • Put pillows behind your knee.

Sleeping after shoulder surgery


  • Sleep in a reclined position. In bed, prop yourself up on pillows.
  • Sleep in a reclining chair.
  • Wear a sling while sleeping to keep your arm stable.
  • Place a pillow between your arm and torso. This will prevent cramping and ensure adequate blood flow.


  • Sleep on the side of your shoulder surgery.

Sleeping after back surgery


  • Sleep in any position you find comfortable.
  • Sleep on your side with a pillow supporting your back or a pillow between your knees.
  • Turn onto your back. Elevate your upper back, shoulders and head with pillows. Place a pillow under your knees.

Other good sleep habits to practice post joint surgery

Keep yourself on the road to recovery by getting the best night’s sleep possible. If you continue to have sleeping problems, talk to your care provider. Some medicines inhibit sleep, but taking your pain medicine an hour before bed will reduce pain at night and restore your sleep cycle.

Also, as you increase your daily activity level, you should sleep better at night. Minimizing the use of electronic devices and caffeine close to bedtime can also help.

Above all, follow the pain management and sleep plan outlined by your Puget Sound Orthopaedics care provider to ensure you heal as quickly as possible.

Sweet dreams!



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