Undergoing surgery is a significant event that can bring about both relief and anxiety. While you focus on your recovery, it’s important not to overlook the impact surgery can have on your sleep. In this blog post, we will discuss the common sleep disturbances that can occur after surgery and offer practical tips on how to achieve better sleep during the recovery process. A good night’s sleep is essential for healing, and understanding how to address sleep issues can contribute to a smoother post-surgery experience.
Sleep Disturbances After Surgery
If you’ve recently had surgery, you may be familiar with the symptoms of short-term insomnia.
You may be experiencing trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep throughout the night or unwanted early morning waking.
Pain and Discomfort: Post-operative pain can make it challenging to find a comfortable sleep position and maintain restful sleep.
Anxiety and Stress: Surgical procedures can be emotionally taxing, and anxiety can disrupt your sleep patterns.
Changes in Medication: Pain medications, anaesthesia, and other drugs administered during and after surgery can affect your sleep and wake cycles.
Hospital Environment: For patients recovering in a hospital, unfamiliar surroundings, noise, and frequent check-ups can interfere with your sleep.
Changes in Routine: After surgery, your daily routine may be altered, affecting your body’s internal clock and making it harder to sleep.
How Long Does Insomnia after Surgery Last?
Sleep disturbances following surgery are usually temporary and are a short-term response to stressors like pain. How long insomnia lasts after surgery will vary from person to person but symptoms typically last a few days to a few weeks. If you need to spend time in hospital recovering after your surgery, it is likely that you will experience poor sleep.
For a small number of people, short-term insomnia after surgery can lead to chronic insomnia if they develop poor sleep habits when their sleep is disrupted after surgery.
Strategies for Better Sleep After Surgery
Pain Management: Keep in contact with your GP or Outpatient Department to manage post-operative pain effectively. This may involve pain medications, physical therapy, or other treatments. If you are prescribed pain medication post-surgery, make sure you understand the potential sleep-related side effects.
Sleep Position: Experiment with different sleep positions that minimise discomfort. Supportive pillows can help, especially if you are required to sleep in a certain position.
Relaxation Techniques: Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and meditation can help reduce anxiety and stress, making it easier to fall asleep.
Sleep Environment: Whether you are recovering at home or in hospital, try to create a comfortable sleep environment. This could include controlling noise and light and using earplugs or an eye mask if needed.
Routine and Consistency: As soon as you are able, try to establish a consistent daily routine. This can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve sleep quality.
Limit Screen Time: Reduce screen time before bedtime, as the blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle.
Combine With Non-Drug Options Like Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I): CBT-I is an evidence-based therapy that helps you identify and change thoughts and behaviours that contribute to sleep problems. It’s highly effective in treating insomnia. It helps change negative thought patterns and behaviours related to sleep. Sleepio is a CBT-I treatment that works with you to develop a personalised insomnia treatment plan, empowering you to challenge negative thought patterns, establish healthy sleep habits, and enjoy restful nights of sleep.
Recovering from surgery can be challenging, and sleep disturbances can compound the difficulties. However, with the right strategies, you can achieve better sleep during your recovery. Whether it’s managing pain, reducing anxiety, optimising your sleep environment, or creating a consistent routine, there are steps you can take to improve your sleep quality. Don’t underestimate the healing power of a good night’s sleep; it’s an essential component of your recovery process, and understanding how to address sleep issues can make a significant difference in your overall well-being.
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