Following a surgical procedure, it’s very important to get plenty of rest. Unfortunately, surgery can make it difficult to sleep. The following are some guidelines on how to sleep after gallbladder surgery.
How Gallbladder Surgery Can Disrupt Your Sleep
There are many reasons that gallbladder surgery can make it difficult to sleep. These include:
- You may be experiencing pain following the procedure.
- In the days following surgery, after-effects of anesthesia may still be in your system. This can interfere with your sleeping patterns.
- Drugs you take post-surgery make interfere with your sleep.
- Stress and other psychological responses to surgery can make it harder to sleep.
- You may already have long-term sleep issues due to other medical issues, sleep apnea, or many other reasons.
Now let’s look at how to sleep after gallbladder surgery.
Stay in Close Contact With Your Health Care Provider
Your doctor and anyone else on your health care team is your best resource for personalized recommendations based on your condition. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if they don’t proactively share certain information with you.
Questions and Points to Raise With Your Doctor
Following gallbladder surgery, it’s particularly important to keep your follow-up appointments. Your condition and the doctor’s recommendations may change quickly. For example, you may not be ready to do certain activities a week after surgery but this may change after another week or two. You can always phone in or email questions, but for many important issues, you need to be examined in person. You might ask your health care providers questions about:
- Problems such as snoring or sleep apnea, which indicate a blockage of the airways. Whether you’ve had such problems in the past, surgery and medication can make them worse.
- Pain that keeps you awake at night.
- Your diet, which can have a great impact on the quality of your sleep.
- The best time to take medication and if this is flexible. You may find, for example, that certain medications interfere with your sleep if taken too close to bedtime.
- What type of exercise it’s safe to do.
Post-surgery Suggestions For Your Sleeping Environment
The conditions of your room, the light and noise levels, your bed and mattress, and other factors all have an impact on the quality of your sleep after surgery.
- Set a comfortable temperature. A room that’s too warm or cold can make it harder to sleep.
- Make sure your mattress is comfortable. You want a mattress that provides ample support as well as comfort. A very soft mattress may feel comfortable but it doesn’t provide enough support for your body. A firm mattress is best. Consider a motion isolation mattress for maximum comfort.
- Have at least two comfortable pillows. This can help you find a comfortable position, especially when certain areas of your body are probably still sensitive.
- Adjustable bed frames can be very useful for finding the right position.
- Sleep on your back or side rather than your stomach.
Exercise as Soon as Possible
You need plenty of rest following gallbladder surgery. However, you should also begin to gently exercise as soon as your doctor tells you it’s safe. One of the reasons it can be hard to sleep following an illness as well as surgery is that you’re mostly sedentary during such times. That’s why starting to move around as soon as possible is an important step towards sleeping better.
- Walking is a gentle exercise that you can do as much or little as is comfortable. Start slowly and gradually increase the distance you cover without straining.
- Avoid any exercise that involves lifting or fast movement until your doctor tells you it’s safe.
- Gentle exercises such as yoga and tai chi can be beneficial.
- Be sure not to overdo it, especially during the first week or two after surgery.
Pay Attention to Your Diet
As we mentioned, your health care provider can give you advice on eating post-surgery. However, there are some general tips to keep in mind when it comes to eating in a way that supports better sleep.
- Avoid larger meals, especially close to bedtime. Eating more frequent smaller meals is easier on your digestion and less likely to disturb your sleep.
- Limit fatty foods, sweets, and carbohydrates.
- Avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine, especially at night.
Try these habits right before bed.
- Gentle deep breathing exercises before bed can help to relax you.
- Avoid looking at electronic devices for an hour before bedtime.
- Reading before bed or listening to audio programs can help you wind down.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Take a bath or shower.
Manage Your Medications
You are most likely taking certain medications after surgery. You should always talk to your doctor before making any changes. In many cases, though, you have some leeway when it comes to what you take and when. If a certain medication is producing side effects, which may include insomnia, you may be able to get an alternative prescription.
It’s also important to carefully study any contraindications regarding medication, such as not to mix certain drugs with others or with alcohol. In addition to disturbing your sleep, it can be dangerous to disregard such recommendations. You should also not take any sleep medications, including over-the-counter ones, without asking your physician if it’s safe.
Additional Tips for Better Sleep
Here are some sleeping tips that will help after gallbladder surgery and even after your recovery.
- Establish a routine. If you were in the hospital, chances are your natural sleep rhythms were disrupted. When you get home, try to return to a consistent routine of waking up and going to sleep at the same time.
- Get sufficient light during the day. Even if you’re not ready for outdoor exercise, getting sun exposure can help you sleep. The next best thing is a lightbox that mimics natural light.
- Certain natural supplements, including melatonin, magnesium, and herbal teas such as chamomile can help you relax and get to sleep. Before taking any supplements, check with your doctor to make sure they don’t conflict with any medications you’re taking.
- Aromatherapy can help you relax. Lavender is especially conducive to sleep. You can inhale them directly out of the bottle or use a device such as a diffuser.
Sleeping Well is Essential After Surgery
Getting sufficient rest is an important part of your recovery after surgery. If you’re wondering how to sleep after gallbladder surgery, keep these recommendations in mind and ask your health care provider any questions you might have.