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Sleeping after a total knee replacement

Total Knee Replacement – How to Sleep After Surgery

How to Sleep After a Total Knee ReplacementWhy do we need to sleep? Apart from the obvious fact that a good night’s sleep keeps us from being tired and groggy throughout the day. Sleep is also crucial for the healing and recovery process. It is how our body recharges and repairs itself. So do your best to get some rest. You may be wondering; how am I supposed to sleep comfortably after a total knee replacement surgery.

Take your pain medicine and use ice intermittently before bedtime. Properly elevate and support your knees with pillows or blanket rolls for comfort and stability.

If you are concerned about how to get a good night’s rest with minimal pain and discomfort after a knee replacement, continue reading this article for helpful suggestions.  

Getting and Staying Asleep After Replacing Your Knees

You’ve just had your total knee replacement. You have been pumped full of wonderful, sleep-inducing pain medications and now it is time to head home and get some rest. Sounds like a solid plan, until the pain medication starts to wear off. What do you do when the gnawing pain starts to bite into your sleep time? 

Getting To Sleep – Proper Knee Position is Key

The following positions are meant to keep you as comfortable as possible during the recovery process:

  • If you are a back sleeper be sure that your leg is elevated with enough pillows to keep your knee at or above your heart level to prevent blood clots and circulation issues. Try to keep it straight through out the night!

  • When sleeping on your side, use a knee pillow between your knees for support and comfort. Try to keep your knees as straight as possible.

  • If you sleep on your stomach be sure to let your food hang off the end of the bed with a small pillow or towel under the front of the knee to protect the incision. Laying in this position also helps with knee extension and range of motion.

  • If you are sleeping in your old-faithful recliner, be sure to keep your knee(s) elevated with pillows at or above your heart level for proper circulation and preventing clotting issues.

sleeping after knee replacement

Try not to keep your knee bent too much for too long. It can be uncomfortable to keep your leg straight at times; however, regaining your knee extension and range of motion is a difficult task if you let your knee stay bent for too long. 

The better we sleep. The faster we heal.

Getting Your Sleep After Replacing Your Knees

The day has turned to night time and you are starting to watch the inside of your eyelids more than the political bologna on television. Your head is doing the infamous droop. It’s time for bed; or is it? It is good to create a routine while you are on the mend in order to rest the best. 

The following nine things will help you to get the rest you need while recovering: 

  • Everyone responds differently when it comes to pain. Some people prefer to use a heating pad or a warm blanket to help ease the pain after. a knee replacement. 

  • Ice, ice, baby! Keep that pain, inflammation, and swelling to a minimum. Use ice intermittently before you plan on going to bed and keep an ice pack on reserve in the freezer in case you wake up with some discomfort in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning.

  • If you have been prescribed compression stockings, wear them! They are most beneficial while you are sleeping because you are not moving around as much and they help to prevent blood clots.

  • Keep your room at a comfortable temperature. You don’t have to set the thermostat to an arctic blast, but a room that is too warm can cause an unrestful night’s sleep which delays the healing process. 

Studies show that a cooler room will help you to fall asleep and stay asleep longer than in a warmer room

  • Stay active during the day and do your exercises! This will also ensure that you are tired and ready to sleep at night. Walk as much as your knee will tolerate during the daytime.

  • Stretching is always a good thing to do but even more so when you have had surgery. It is important to keep those muscles stretched in order to keep your extension and range of motion where it needs to be.Doing some light stretching before bed is beneficial because you are about to lay still for several hours while you sleep. Laying still causes stiffness. So get those stretches in so you can be relaxed. 

    stretching into knee extension
  • Take your meds on schedule, not ‘as needed’. Don’t try to tough it out and take them only when it is hurting you badly. When you let the medicine wear off completely it takes longer for it to work when you are really needing it and may not be as effective.

  • Use white noise and/or to relax your brain and help you drift away to dreamland.

  • We recommend taking your pain medication about one hour before you plan on catching those Z’s so it has time to absorb and start working by the time you are ready to lay your head down.

Helpful Items to Sleep After a Knee Replacement

The following items are suggestions that may help you to get a better night’s sleep while you are recovering:

Vive Knee Automatic Ice Machine

Summary: This ice machine is designed to stay on to help you get some pain relief. We love the automatic shut off so that you can wear it to bed and it will shut off without waking you up. The water stays colder longer than regular ice packs and the gel pad makes it easier to cover the whole knee. 

Vive Cold Therapy Machine for Knee Pain

Click on the image for more information

Linux LX6 3pc. Orthopedic Pillow Set

Summary: Designed with post-op recovery in mind. This 3 piece set will bolster you to a comfortable and relaxing sleep. Instead of having to sleep in a recliner this 3-piece pillow lets your get comfortable in your own bed. You can prop your head, your knee, or ankle up to find that position in bed to finally recover.

Linux 3pc orthopedic set to improve sleep after a knee replacement

Click on the image for more information

ComfiLife Knee Pillow

Summary: This pillow can be used in multiple ways for keeping you properly positioned during your recovery. We love it for sleeping on our side to help keep our knee in proper alignment with your hip. 

We also use it to prop our heel on the pillow to slowly let gravity straighten our knee through the night.

Comfilife orthopedic knee pillow

Click on the image for more information

Sunbeam Flextemp Knee Wrap

Summary: This pillow can be used in multiple ways for keeping you properly positioned during your recovery. We love it for sleeping on our side to help keep our knee in proper alignment with your hip. 

We also use it to prop our heel on the pillow to slowly let gravity straighten our knee through the night.

Sunbeam Flextemp Knee Heat Therapy Wrap

Click on the image for more information

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.