How to Sleep after Elbow Surgery: Complete Guide

You may have heard how uncomfortable it is to sleep with a broken arm. If you do, then you might not be able to imagine how hard breaking your elbow can make sleeping feel. The left and right sides of your body are affected by the broken bone and only a few positions may feel comfortable on that side of the body.

Some people are lucky enough that they can go back to their sleeping position before suffering an injury without feeling severe pain or discomfort. Some may find relief through changing their head's direction from the original position they use for resting in order for them to get some good night's sleep despite having an injured arm.

best position to sleep after elbow surgery

Some would even try to elevate the elbow using pillows or other soft items such as towels, shirts or any other thing that can help them sleep more comfortably despite the injury.

Some even go to a doctor to ask for pain medications, but since this is not always needed, they still take painkillers over the counter or try other methods in order to make their sleep easier and more comfortable.

How Should I Sleep After Elbow Surgery?

With some simple tips, you can save yourself from a lot of sleepless nights. First after the injury, consult with your doctor or orthopedic surgeon on how to properly sleep. The surgeon may recommend using specialized pillows or taking therapy, or Over-the-Counter Pain Medicine to take.

The main difficulties that come along with having a broken arm are things like sleeping in an awkward position, rolling onto it or accidentally putting pressure on it, all of which can send shooting pains up your arm.

Some would even try to elevate the tennis elbow using soft items such as towels, shirts or any other thing that can help them sleep more comfortably despite the injury. If you are wondering How to sleep after elbow surgery then, there are some effective ways to sleep with a broken elbow.

Sleeping with a Shoulder Sling

You should invest in a good quality shoulder sling to help you get around when you're injured with a broken elbow. It is also important to get the right size sling for sleeping.

The shoulder sling should be snug but not tight, and it should support the elbow at the correct angle. It's also important to find a position that is comfortable for you. Some people find it easier to sleep in the prone (face down) position, while others find the side-lying position more comfortable.

Once you are lying down, make sure that your arm is supported by pillows or rolled up towels. If you can find a comfortable place to have your thumb in the correct position, this is preferable.

Sleeping After Removing The Cast

If you're sleeping with your arm in a cast, there are a couple of things to do to make sleep more comfortable. First, you'll need to remove the cast. Then, wrap it loosely with a towel or cut up shirt around your arm in order to keep you from touching it against the mattress.

After that, find a position that feels good for you. You might want to lay on your back with your broken arm resting on top of a pillow or try laying sideways and hugging the pillow with your broken arm.

Sleeping With Elbow Brace

Sleeping With Elbow Brace

An elbow brace or sleeve can be a compression garment that is worn on either the left or right arm. In some cases, it may be worn on both arms. They are often used to protect against irritation from wounds, such as those from surgery.

In some instances, an elbow sleeve will have a strap to hold it in place. They are able to return back to their normal length and may reduce the stiffness that you experience.

A post-surgery period of immobilization is necessary for a person's body to recover from injury or surgery. This means limiting how much you move your injured arm and following your surgeon's instructions for how to care for the injured area while it heals.

So how do you sleep with an elbow sleeve after elbow surgery to reduce forearm muscle pain? There are four main features for how to sleep with a post-op compression garment on your arm:

  • Adjustable Velcro straps at top of injured shoulder and bicep that hold the sleeve in position all night.
  • No Slip stitching to prevent thigh rub for patient moving or turning positions while sleeping.
  • Double-lined elbow for added comfort and strength.
  • Seamless, cool and lightweight design features that make the elbow more comfortable.

Sleeping With Pillows

To sleep with a pillow when you have a broken elbow, you should place the pillow vertically on the bed, put your arm and rest it on top of the pillow, and then use your other hand to support the head. This will make it easier for your arm to heal.

Sleeping on a cervical pillow is a good choice which can decrease soreness in the morning, too. A person can also sleep in a recliner by using pillows or tucking a blanket under their arm so that it is not hanging over the side of the chair.

Sleeping Upright

Many people suffer from upper arm and shoulder pain when sleeping on their side, stomach or back. Sometimes, the pain can be so severe that it is hard to move your arm without excruciating pain.

Some doctors even recommend elbow or shoulder surgery for these patients in order to remove the trapped nerve or muscle that causes the pain.

One way to combat this problem is to sleep upright at night. This will allow the joints in your arm and chest to relax and eliminate any pressure or irritation which could cause more discomfort.

Sleeping After Applying Ice Therapy

Ice pack therapy is a form of treatment that targets pain-related symptoms and problems. Ice therapy is usually done by applying an ice pack to the area of injury or pain. Ice should not be applied directly to the skin but rather wrapped in a cloth first.

Sleeping After Applying Heat Therapy

People with an injured or broken arm are often required to sleep with one of their forearms above their head due to the pain. This can be difficult if you’re not used to sleeping in this position and it can also be uncomfortable.

If you find yourself discomforted while sleeping on your side, try a few heat therapy recommended by a physical therapist. Heat therapy is used to treat muscle spasms and other issues related to muscle tension. Heat therapy can be applied with hot water bottles or microwaved rice bags.

You may also use heating pads to apply heat therapy on the elbow that is in pain. This procedure will help relax muscles and reduce swelling. Sleeping after applying heat therapy on the broken Elbow requires a little patience at first, but you’ll soon get used to it.

Sleeping After Exercise

It is difficult to sleep with or without exercise because sleeping requires comfort and elbow surgery can be painful. It is very important to exercise after elbow surgery because exercise will determine how soon you recover. Physical exercise helps to increase blood flow and reduce ulnar nerve pain.

A few ways to get good sleep while suffering from chronic pain include practicing good body mechanics and posture to reduce pain, decreasing stress and anxiety, reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine consumption, and getting adequate exercise if possible.

Sleeping After Breathing Techniques

Shoulder blade is one of the main parts of recovering from elbow surgery. How you sleep matters, too. You can try some breathing techniques when you go to sleep at night, so that your breathing is more regular and calm.

You should also try lying on your side instead of sleeping on your back or stomach because this will help with pain in your arm.

Sleeping After Taking Pain Medicine

Sleeping After Taking Pain Medicine

It's not always possible to sleep with a broken elbow, but you can take narcotic pain medication before bed to help you sleep.

If you're taking more than one pain reliever, read the list of ingredients on your medications and see if there are any warnings about mixing certain medications together.

If you're only taking one medication, talk to a doctor about what other options you have for treating your pain.

Taking Pain Control Medicine before sleep:

  • Take the pain relief medication on time so it doesn't wear off and is still working when you go to bed.
  • Take the medication in the evening if possible, as it may help you sleep more deeply at night.
  • Don't take any other medications before bedtime that might make it harder to sleep.

Some doctors may be hesitant to prescribe additional medication because they prefer to use non-medicinal methods first. Read over the side effects of your medication.

As long as those side effects don't concern you, talk to a doctor about what other options you have for treating your pain. They may recommend non-medicinal approaches like physical therapy or massage.


It’s common to sleep through the night after recovering from an elbow operation. The patient may sleep longer than normal as the sleep cycle progresses. Different sleep cycles can influence sleep duration, so the sleep cycle is typically altered in patients who have had elbow surgery.

Billy L. Osorio

My name is Billy. I am a computer engineer by profession. So, most of my work is on the desk. In my past days, I had many back pain issues due to a long time sitting, eating, working habit. I did a lot of studies and consulting for overcoming my problem. Now, I am trying to share my knowledge.

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