Drifting off to sleep may be the last thing on your mind during the first couple of nights after undergoing meniscus surgery or arthroscopy. The discomfort can be extremely disturbing during that period which may lead to severe insomnia at bedtime.
However, you should know that sleep is non-negotiable especially if you want to get back on your feet as soon as possible. The days of slipping into Dreamland with little effort can seem like a century ago at this point.
But, the good news is that several tried and tested techniques can be followed to achieve blissful nights as long as you’re willing to put in the effort. Many arthroscopy patients have reported massive results from following the hacks shared here and there’s nothing to stop you from getting similar results.
How To Sleep Comfortably After Meniscus Surgery
A good night of rest after meniscus surgery is not impossible as long as you’re willing to follow the right practices. Here are a few ways to get a quality shuteye after arthroscopic surgery.
1. Dry and Clean Bandages
The last thing you want is to wake up to blood-stained bedsheets in the middle of the night after any type of surgery. This may not only rob you of the ability to nod off again but the fear of suffering a repeat can create mental scars that may increase anxiety levels every time you want to sleep.
This is why it is important to keep your bandages dry and clean at all times, especially at night. Just before jumping into bed, check the bandages to make sure everything is intact. If you notice any signs of bleeding, redress the wound quickly, and apply clean bandages to reduce the risk of infections.
2. Rest more than usual
Rest is essential to the healing process and can be the key to beating the surgeon’s recovery estimates. Whether you’ve always enjoyed 8 hours of sleep in the past or used to only 5-6 hours of shuteye, this may be the time to dig in and get as much rest as possible.
If lying down in bed overnight for longer periods proves a challenge, afternoon naps can be adopted to increase the number of hours of rest you get within 24 hours.
3. Ice Packs is a Winner
Ice can be a great way to reduce post-meniscus surgical pain to enhance the chances of better snoozing during the night. Like most types of surgery, arthroscopy involves the surgeon making incisions in the meniscus region.
This is why medical experts recommend placing ice or cold packs on the surgery site for up to 20 minutes every couple of hours. To prevent the risk of ice burns, put a thin cloth between the ice and the surgery site.
Remember, the operated leg should always be elevated before applying ice during the first 72 hours after surgery. Also, always keep the leg above the level of the heart to reduce the swelling quickly while numbing the discomfort felt in the site of the incision.
The FlexiKold Gel Ice Pack from Amazon is my go-to remedy to seek relief from pain and swelling after suffering injury or undergoing surgery. It stays colder for longer compared with rival products. It is highly-rated and highly recommended for everyone.
4. Compression to Speed up the Important Healing
Compression can be another important remedy for anyone struggling to sleep after undergoing surgery in the meniscus region. Sometimes, your surgeon may provide stocking support to apply gentle pressure to the legs during recovery.
This can prevent the formation of blood clots while reducing the swelling and improving blood supply to the affected area. Even if your surgeon failed to provide compression stockings, you can speak to him or her for the green light to get one yourself.
The good news is that support stockings are readily available in pharmacies, supermarkets, and online.
The POWERLIX Knee Compression Sleeve from Amazon transformed my life during recovery from meniscus surgery. It applied even pressure across each area of the knees to speed up my healing while enabling comfort in record times. It was one of the major secrets during recovery.
5. Pain Medication
Pain medications can be the key to restful nights after undergoing meniscus surgery. Your surgeon may prescribe a specific anti-inflammatory to reduce the post-surgery discomfort and it is important to take the dosage as prescribed.
In most cases, blood thinners such as Aspirin may be kicked to the bench as they can interfere with the healing process. Also, speak to your doctor for permission before taking other medications.
Remember, these pain killers operate by inhibiting the brain from receiving pain transmission leading to lower levels of anxiety and a better chance of sleeping through the night.
The uncertainty surrounding surgery can increase the pain experienced after the procedure. No wonder meditation has proven to be an effective tool for eliminating or at least reducing the discomfort associated with recovering from meniscus surgery.
This ancient-old practice may involve taking deep breaths as well as visualizing yourself in environments that can bring peace and calm to the mind. Many forms of meditation can distract the patient’s brain from focusing on the post-surgery discomfort.
The result is lower levels of pain if any at all and resultant benefits such as decreased anxiety and better sleep. Fortunately, even complete beginners can study and master the art of meditation from the comfort of their homes.
All you have to do is log onto YouTube and follow any of the Mindfulness Meditation videos uploaded. The improvements to your sleep can be magical.
I personally use the Body Quiet Meditation Cushion with Accupressure For Stress Relief from Amazon for Meditation and Yoga exercises. The seat is tall for excellent alignment of the hips and spine for correct posture. This means zero pressure on my back, knees, and ankles for superior comfort and longer, pain-free meditation and yoga sessions. I highly recommend it.
7. Quiet Environment
High levels of noise can be an active sleep inhibitor whether you’re recovering from surgery or not. Most people who live in city center apartments or close to major highways report getting little to no sleep thanks to the unbearable noise at night.
A quiet bedroom environment can be a great way to nod off quickly when recovering from meniscus surgery. As such switching off laptops, TVs, and other electronic appliances that may disturb your sleep can be a great start.
If you live in a city center apartment, consider putting on noise-canceling headphones to mute background noises for undisturbed shuteye.
I personally use the Cowin E8 Active Noise-Canceling Headphones from Amazon to doze off in noisy environments. It features amazing technology that drowns out background noises so I can focus on listening to relaxing pleasant sounds for satisfying sleep.
8. Warm Bath
Surgeons typically recommend that patients stay away from bathing during the first 24-48 hours after meniscus surgery. Once that time elapses, warm showers or baths can be a great way to enhance sleep at night especially during humid weather.
The warm bathing water can cause an initial spike in your body temperature which eventually cools down quickly leading to deeper relaxation and faster sleeping afterward.
Be sure to cover the bandages with a sheet of plastic tape to keep the wound dry while lowering the risk of infections.
9. Essential Oils
Essential oils are one of the worst kept secrets for relaxation and good sleep. The sweet-smelling aromas of the oils offer rapid mind calming and relaxation. Once the brain reaches that level of tranquility, the sleep process inadvertently kicks off.
Studies have shown a positive relationship between essential oils and sleep. Not only is there evidence of Lavender, Bergamot, Valerian Root, and other essential oils making it easier to nod off but they can also improve the quality of sleep as well.
Essential oils may be applied in a variety of ways including:
- Circulating in the bedroom via an electronic diffuser
- Pouring into bathing water
- Putting a few drops on the pillow at bedtime
The Ultimate Aromatherapy Diffuser and Essential Oil Set from Amazon offered me the ultimate degree of relaxation to fall asleep while recovering from meniscus surgery. The sweet-scented aromas reduce anxiety and stimulate the brain to reduce sleep-boosting melatonin. It is highly recommended for everyone with sleep troubles.
10. Sleep Aids
If you’re still struggling to catch some Zs after following the tips and tricks above, over-the-counter sleep aids may be the last resort. These medicines stimulate deep relaxation and sleep thanks to the effects of a chemical known as antihistamines.
Unfortunately, the body can develop quick resistance to antihistamines meaning sleep aids may prove ineffective over the long haul. However, they can offer some respite post-surgery as you look for better ways to snooze naturally.
What Is The Best Sleeping Position After Meniscus Surgery?
The first step to achieving blissful nights after the procedure is to figure out the right position to sleep. Once you get this part correct, several other things can fall into place to stimulate the chances of enjoying memorable nights.
Back Sleeping: Lying down on the back with the legs elevated is the best position for arthroscopy surgery patients. If you’ve always preferred stomach or side sleeping, adopting this position, even if temporarily, can set you on the path towards quick healing.
Note that elevating the legs enhances blood flow to the area surrounding the meniscus meaning adequate supplies of oxygen and other nutrients that can reduce swelling and speed up the healing process.
Side Sleeping: If you’re a dedicated side sleeper who struggles to get any shuteye on the back, sleeping on the side could be an option after surgery. However, this position should only be considered after back sleeping for the first 72 hours post-surgery.
The trick is to lie on the side with the “good leg” while placing pillows between the legs to prevent friction. Also, make sure the operated leg is positioned such that the site of the surgery faces the ceiling.
How To Switch To Back Sleeping After Meniscus Surgery
We’ve outlined the reasons why sleeping on the back can be so essential even if it sounds like a scary proposition for long-term side and stomach sleepers. It is no secret that switching to a new position can be quite difficult. Especially among those who have stuck to one position for a lifetime.
Here are a few effortless ways to guarantee back sleeping throughout the night even if you’re a side or stomach sleeper.
1. Reclining Chair
Reclining chairs can offer an effortless way for a front or side sleeper to switch to the back overnight. These chairs come in different shapes, sizes, and upholstery which can make it difficult to choose right.
Note that zero-gravity recliner chairs are the best option for post-meniscus surgery recovery thanks to the unique design that suspends the body in a neutral posture so the feet can be properly aligned with the heart.
In essence, these chairs can promote a comfortable elevation of the legs to ease up the pain and discomfort while enabling quicker recovery. Additionally, zero-gravity recliners allow surgery patients to experience a weightless sensation for tension release and deeper relaxation.
The JUMICCO Fabric Recliner Chair from Amazon proved life-saving after undergoing meniscus surgery 3 months ago. It features breathable fabric with thick padding for the ultimate comfort throughout the night. It also sports an armrest and footrest for elevating the knees for swelling reduction and healing.
2. Adjustable Base
Adjustable bases offer the ability to sleep on the back with minimal effort while comfortably elevating the legs. These bases may come in different styles but they’re universally designed to move into different positions by raising the leg and foot sections.
High-end models may feature built-in massagers which can improve blood flow in target areas and release tension for a superior nighttime experience.
Since meniscus surgery patients spend a lot of time in bed even during the day, adjustable beds can offer deeper relaxation whether you’re catching a TV show or reading.
The LUCID L300 Adjustable Bed Base with 12-inch Memory Foam Mattress from Amazon is the highest-selling model online right now. It is easy to assemble even among complete beginners and ships with an adjustable base and 12-inch mattress.
3. Stacking Pillows on Each Side
Sure, recliners and adjustable beds can be effective for anyone that needs to lie down on the back without interruptions. But a traditional bed can work too as long as you’re ready to improvise.
As a natural side or stomach sleeper, there’ll always be the temptation to accidentally roll over onto your favorite position during the night. This may not only stifle the recovery process but can aggravate the pain in the incision site.
Putting physical barriers such as stacked up pillows on each side of the body during sleep may be the best move.
If you decide to sleep in a traditional bed, be sure to place the legs on a leg elevator pillow to enhance blood flow to the region of the surgery. This can reduce the risk of infections or bleeding while protecting the injury site from additional physical trauma such as accidental collision with the other leg.
We’re honored to share the tips and tricks that can offer superior sleep after meniscus surgery. You may not be able to try all of our remedies at once so just pick a couple of your favorite to practice each night.
Remember, pain relief and mental relaxation are the keys to enjoying restful nights during the recovery period.