Sleep plays a key role in your body’s natural healing and recovery process. However, it can sometimes be difficult to get restful sleep after you’ve had spine surgery. After all, your body has gone through a significant trauma. That being said, it’s still important to get regular uninterrupted sleep as you recover so you can get back to your normal routine as soon as possible. Here are some tips for sleeping after spine surgery to help you achieve this goal.
The commonly recommended positions for sleeping after spine surgery are either on your side or your back. These positions are often effective because they ease pressure on the lower back and spinal discs. You should avoid sleeping on your stomach for a while after surgery. Face-down sleeping places extra stress on the spinal bones and discs and the spaces between them.
With both side and back sleeping, pillows can minimize pressure on a healing spine. If you plan to sleep on your side, bend your knees and place a pillow between your legs. Also, keep one leg slightly forward as your legs rest on top of each other. Minimize rolling by placing another pillow behind your back and hips. If you’ll be sleeping on your back, place a pillow or rolled-up blanket under your knees to keep your knees and hips bent as you nod off.
Sleeping on your side with your arms under your neck or lying on your back with your arms above your head may seem comfortable and natural. However, these arm positions could throw off your spine’s alignment or place too much stress on your neck and shoulders.
Most people are naturally fatigued after spine surgery, so it’s fine to take short naps now and then. However, too much daytime napping could make it difficult for you to sleep through the night as you recover and heal.
It can also be helpful to elevate your upper back and head slightly to retain your spine’s natural alignment as you sleep. If you don’t have an adjustable bed, a wedge pillow or a few stacked-up standard pillows can elevate your upper back.
Medium-firm pillows tend to work best for added support under your knees or behind your back, and firm or medium-firm mattresses are fine for sleeping after spine surgery. Avoid a mattress that’s too soft, since your spine needs to be sufficiently supported. You’ll also be more likely to sleep well following spine surgery if you remember to:
• Tighten your stomach when you turn or get out of bed
• Sit on the side of the bed, bring your legs up, and roll onto your back or side
• Use a reverse log roll method to get out of bed
It’s perfectly normal to have some difficulty sleeping through the night right after having spine surgery. But if the tips discussed here aren’t contributing to improvements in your sleep routine after a week or so post-surgery, talk to your doctor or contact a Santa Monica spine surgeon to determine if there are unexpected issues with your recovery that may need to be addressed.
Whether they have artificial disc replacement or minimally invasive microsurgery such as a kyphoplasty procedure, Santa Monica spine surgery patients can help their recovery go as smoothly as possible by following the tips listed above. For more information about how to prepare for a safe, healthy recovery, reach out to the experienced professionals at The Spine Institute. Call us today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.