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Sleeping After Shoulder Surgery

Whether you've undergone an open rotator cuff surgical shoulder repair, or an arthroscopic shoulder surgery, shoulder surgery is needed mainly for serious damage caused to your shoulder muscles, bones, or tendons as a permanent solution. But, after you've had shoulder surgery, it could cause challenges for you to obtain the quality sleep you need.

In fact, one of the biggest complaints from people who have had shoulder surgery is trouble sleeping. Shoulder surgery can be extremely painful, since you have many nerve endings in your shoulder that might cause pain. And, even a moderate ache in your shoulder could keep you from obtaining a good night's sleep. So, here you'll learn some tips to hopefully help you to sleep better through post-surgery recovery.

Sleeping Supplies to Get Prior to Shoulder Surgery

Here are some essential sleep supplies you will want to consider before you have your shoulder surgery.

  1. Sleeping Wedge

Some doctors and physical therapists encourage you use a medical wedge pillow that is designed for providing support after shoulder surgery for your:

  • Neck
  • Head
  • Upper back

Sleeping wedges also help ease shoulder pain, since they provide you with a gradual slope that's not too high, allowing you to obtain sufficient sleep without irritating your lower back, or making you feel like you're sitting up.

  1. Extra Pillows

Try using pillows while you're laying down to help offer support and elevate your neck, upper back, and head. This might not be the perfect way of sleeping in a reclined position, though, because the pillows do tend to slip off your bed when you're asleep. But, it could be a temporary solution for you if you can't afford something better like an adjustable base.

  1. Comfortable Mattress

If you don't already have one, a comfortable mattress is essential when you're going through shoulder surgery recovery. You can try a Latex For Less Latex Mattress. This mattress is constructed with 100% natural latex, pure natural wool, and the finest quality organic cotton. It's certified by Oeko-Tex Standard 100, GOTS, and Eco-Institute. It provides you with two levels of firmness in one mattress because it's reversible and offers outstanding support and comfort.

  1. Adjustable Base for Your Mattress

Since many individuals find it's not as painful for them to sleep in a reclined position after shoulder surgery and many don't want to load pillows up underneath them, they turn to using an adjustable base. An adjustable base can provide you with relaxation and the support your shoulder needs after surgery. The Latex For Less adjustable base is completely customizable, and inclines your head up to 60 degrees. You also get three preset positions as well, and it works well with the latex foam mattress.

What To Do Before Bedtime

Some tips to follow before bedtime are:

  1. Apply Ice Packs

Before you go to bed, apply an ice pack. By treating your shoulder pain before you sleep, it will make it simpler to fall asleep. Apply the ice pack to your shoulder around 30 minutes before you retire to bed to relieve the inflammation, provide temporary relief, and numb the pain.

  1. Take Medications As Indicated By Physician

Regardless of the sleep position you determine is most comfortable, keep your surgeon's post-operative instructions in mind. One of the easiest ways of helping you obtain the rest you need is to keep your levels of pain low. Taking medication your doctor recommends or prescribes will help with this.

  1. Wear a Sling During the Daytime

Following your shoulder procedure, your surgeon will suggest you wear a shoulder sling during the day for a few weeks. The sling supports your shoulder, and will counteract the effects of gravity, which can exacerbate postoperative shoulder pain. Wearing a sling during the day decreases pain and swelling in your shoulder at day's end, and will make it easier to fall asleep at night.

  1. Take It Easy During the Day

Don't overdo it. By taking it easy in the daytime while your shoulder is recovering, it can help prevent extra soreness at night before you go to bed. Avoid activities like roughhousing with friends, jogging, or working out that can jar your shoulder. Focus on protecting your shoulder for a minimum of a few months.

  • You can walk in the early evening to help with blood circulation, but take it easy and slow.
  • Keep in mind your sling will affect your balance, so be careful of accidents and falls, which could cause further shoulder inflammation, and make it harder to sleep.
  1. Prop Up Your Arm

By placing one pillow under your hand and elbow, it will place your shoulder into a position that will encourage maximum flow of blood to your rotator cuff as you're sleeping. While you're sitting, or are in a semi-reclined position, you'll want to tuck a pillow between your body and arm, bend your elbow, and keep the pillow under your armpit.

Sleeping After Shoulder Surgery Tips

Some sleeping tips after shoulder surgery are:

  1. Sleep in a Reclined Position

A lot of individuals find it's easier and not as painful to sleep in a reclined position, instead of on their back flat after shoulder surgery. In order to achieve a reclined position, you could place pillows under your lower back or use an adjustable base that you simply raise until you reach a comfortable position. As your pain starts going away, and your shoulder heals, you can gradually lower yourself back into a horizontal sleep position.

  1. Work to Regain Your Range of Motion.

Typically, after a person's range of motion improves, their pain also improves significantly. Usually, a directed therapy program can help patients significantly improve their general functioning during the day, and their sleep quality at night. It's important you are diligent with your physical therapy, and any exercises prescribed to you at home to help with nighttime discomfort.

  1. Wear Your Sling

The sling is meant to reduce or eliminate shoulder tension, so it's important you wear it. Wearing it at night will help you avoid moving into an uncomfortable or maybe even harmful position accidently while sleeping.

What Type of Mattress is Best for Shoulder Pain

Having the right type of mattress can help you prevent shoulder pain, and could decrease pain in individuals who are already experiencing shoulder issues.

First, you'll want to ensure you have a mattress that provides enough support and comfort. It should remove much of the pressure from trigger points, or "hot spots", and should conform to your body. It should provide pressure relief around your shoulders when you're dealing with ongoing shoulder pain. This will not only help decrease friction and impact in that area, but solid whole body pressure relief could keep your spine aligned properly, and avoid other possible sources of aches and pains.

Your mattress should provide you with firm support that offers sufficient shoulder cushioning. The first thought that typically comes to people's minds are pillow top mattresses, but these don't offer the right support you'll need after shoulder surgery. Often a medium firm mattress is best for when you're dealing with shoulder pain, but this will depend on your sleep position and the shape of your body.

In any event, a latex mattress checks all of these boxes.

Try a Latex for Less Adjustable Base to Keep Yourself in a Reclined Position

If you've just undergone shoulder surgery, remember you need to sleep in a reclined position. Being able to raise an adjustable base can make sleeping at night more comfortable. Not to mention, a latex mattress that relieves pressure and conforms to your body works well with adjustable bases and Latex For Less provides that, too.

Elizabeth Magill

Elizabeth Magill is a professional freelance writer and editor who holds an MBA. Liz specializes in writing about health news, medical conditions, healthy living, small business, career and work, personal finance, and green-living, including news and trending topics in these specialties. Her clients include Healthline, The Motley Fool, GoBanking Rates,, Big Interview, HealthNews, Intuit Small Business Blog, Intuit Health, American News Report,, IFX Medical, and many others. She’s also a published eBook author and ghost writer for various clients in the health, medical, career, small business, and personal finance niches.