Did you know that getting proper sleep and your sleeping position after breast surgery can affect how well you heal? In our post about post-op hydration, we talked about all the ways that hydration can help to speed up the healing process. In this post, we are going to discuss the best way to sleep after breast surgery, but we also want you to know why getting proper sleep after breast surgery is so important.
Sleep and Breast Surgery Recovery Go Hand in Hand
According to a study documented on WebMD, sleep and pain sensitivity are intertwined. “When you are sleepy, you are cranky, moody, depressed, and anxious,” Sleep expert Michael Breus, PhDsays. “Every injury or type of pain gets worse with less sleep.”
The study found that participants who got more sleep- between 7 and 9 hours per night- reported a higher pain tolerance.
One reason for this could be that when we sleep we are moving less which allows our bodies to dedicate more energy to sending blood flow, nutrients and oxygen to our wound or incision sites.
After surgery, we are naturally fatigued- partially from anesthesia or medications, and partially from our bodies working overtime to heal our surgical wounds. If you’ve ever had an injury, you know that being in pain can be exhausting. For this reason, you may need to get more sleep than normal during the first few days or weeks post-op.
Best Breast Surgery Sleeping Position: Back
In general, most surgeons require their patients to sleep on their backs for several weeks and even months.
Some suggest being propped up at an angle on your back to promote proper positioning of the implants.
Sleeping prone (on your tummy) as you can imagine is not recommended as it may compress your implants, cause them to shift out of their surgical pocket, and decrease blood flow for healing.
Sleeping on your side naturally causes them to be positioned in a non-symmetrical position, which should also be avoided until your surgeon advises otherwise.
According to this article on Purple.com, back sleeping has more advantages than improving the outcome of breast surgery; they also assert that back sleepers have fewer facial wrinkles, fewer back problems, perkier breasts and less heartburn.
But if you’re not already a back sleeper, this can be a nuisance and hinder your post-op sleep and overall recovery.
How to Become a Back Sleeper after Breast Surgery
If you need a little practice to become a back sleeper, we have some tips for you!
- Start Before Surgery: If you’re used to sleeping on your side or tummy, it can be hard to kick the habit. Don’t rely on achieving this on the first try after surgery- go ahead and start in the weeks and/or months before having surgery so that by surgery time you will be a pro!
- Use Positioning Pillows: Using a pillow under your knees and/or placing a pillow underneath each arm can help to keep your body in your desired position.
- Ask for Help: If you sleep with a partner or spouse, ask them to wake you up or nudge you if they notice you on your side or tummy when you are sleeping.
- Be Persistent: In every article we’ve read, the most important tip we’ve seen is to be persistent when learning to sleep on your back. Whether you sleep alone or with a partner, you can hold yourself accountable. You will roll over into your normal position naturally. If that happens, just roll back over. Don’t give up. Pretty soon, you’ll be a back sleeper.
Back Sleeping Pillow Recommendations
Under Knee Pillow: According to an article by Tuck all about the best knee pillows, this bolster got the award for best pillow to use under the knees for back sleeping after surgery or an injury. A bonus to using a pillow under the knees is that it also reduces low back pain which can occur after surgery due to laying down more than normal.
Sleeping propped up can help to reduce the pressure on your pectoral muscles needed to sit yourself up or lift yourself out of bed- which is key after surgery. This wedge pillow got great reviews online and can help to keep you propped up while sleeping after surgery.
CHRYSALIS can provide you with common positioning advice to aid in a more restful night’s sleep. Our members receive week-by-week recovery tips including movements, nutritional guidance and a private support forum. Click here for more information.