If you are preparing for back surgery–such as spinal fusion, disc replacement, laminectomy, discectomy, and lumbar spine surgery you should know that the road to recovery can be challenging at times. You are likely excited to finally feel pain-free and letting your body recover post-surgery is part of the process. You can expect to receive discharge instructions and prescriptions from your doctor, but in addition, there are other practical preparations you can prepare for once you are home from your back surgery. Getting the appropriate amount and quality rest is part of your recovery process from back surgery.
We have a few tips to help maximize your recovery with restorative and pain-free sleep.
In a sleep and technology poll by the National Sleep Foundation showed that 95% of the people surveyed said they use electronics a few nights a week within an hour before bed. However, looking at a TV, computer, or cell phone screen limits your production of melatonin that controls your sleep/wake cycle. As a result, reducing your melatonin levels will make it harder for you to fall asleep. To help ensure you get a good night’s rest after your back surgery, we recommend that you stop electronic use at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
Importance of your Mattress
Sleeping on the wrong type of mattress can reverse the benefits of having back surgery. So you will want a mattress that minimizes your pressure points to your back and promotes spine alignment after your back surgery. The firmness of your mattress should allow you to sleep without pain and stiffness. The mattress should also provide you with back support to allow for the natural curves and alignment of your spine. Most people will find that a medium-firm mattress will allow them to obtain comfort and a good night’s rest.
Before you have back surgery, be sure you have the pillows needed to help support your recovery. Have a thicker pillow to youse between your knees for side sleeping. For back sleeping, use a pillow that will fill the space between your neck and mattress. If your current pillows have been around for a while, it may be a good idea to purchase some new ones.
After back surgery, it is recommended to either sleep on your back or your side. Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended as this increases the pressure on your backbones and the disc spaces. Although, if you do choose to sleep on your stomach, it’s recommended that you place a pillow under your stomach and upper legs.
To get the best back support, place a pillow between your knees. You can sleep on both your left and right side, and it’s recommended to change sides to enhance your spine’s alignment. Both sleeping on your right side and left side have benefits after having back surgery. For example, sleeping on your left side can help reduce acid reflux and sleeping on your right side may lower your nervous system activity.
If you prefer to sleep on your back, you should try elevating your upper back, shoulder, and head with supportive pillows or an adjustable bed. Also, placing a pillow or rolled-up blanket under your knees will help relieve pressure after your back surgery. Also, try keeping your arms at your side as placing them under or over your head adds additional pressure to your back and shoulders.
Your sleep position will help with the alignment of your hips, pelvis, and back.
Wake Up to Your Alarm
If you hit snooze it will interfere with your natural sleep patterns. So instead of trying to get extra sleep, get up and move around to promote the value of getting a good night’s rest. In addition, moving around helps reduce the risk of blood clots and prevents muscle atrophy. Work with your doctor on the amount of walking you should do each day as well without stressing your body after having back surgery.
You may find it difficult to sleep after your back surgery, but knowing the right way to sleep should help you get the rest you need as you recover. Be sure you listen to your body, if it hurts, be sure you to rest. If you wake up in the morning and feel intense pain and stiffness, be sure you talk to your doctor and see if you need to make any changes.
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