4 Great Tips For Sleeping After Shoulder Surgery

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✅ This article has been medically reviewed by: Dr. Amita Fotedar, Ph.D., Dr. Kate Sołdaj, M.D. and Dr. Bartłomiej Orybkiewicz, M.D.

The shoulder contains one of the most flexible joints in your body. This joint ensures you are able to rotate and use your arm properly. There are many injuries that your shoulder can suffer. When this happens, you may lose mobility in your arm. Shoulder injuries can also cause extreme pain, inflammation, and discomfort.

Treatment often includes physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs. When the initial treatments do not work, there are cases where shoulder surgery may be advised. If a doctor recommends surgery, you may feel pain and discomfort for a few weeks after the procedure. You need to get enough sleep to support the healing process. We share four important tips to help you sleep better after you had shoulder surgery.

Use a Shoulder sling  

When you sleep, stability in your arm and shoulder is crucial. Making an unexpected turn at night could cause problems. You may wake up with severe pain when you suddenly make a movement in your sleep. A shoulder sling can help to prevent this from happening. You can put the sling on before you get into bed. 
The shoulder sling helps to ensure your arm is kept at a stable position while you are sleeping. The sling can also be used during the day. It helps to reduce discomfort and also ensure sudden movements will not interfere with your shoulder’s healing process.

Consider a Reclined Sleeping position

Many people move around at night. If you move to a position that puts pressure on your arm and shoulder, it may cause pain and, in some cases, even complications during the healing process. You should consider a reclined sleeping position. 
When learning how to sleep after shoulder surgery, tossing and turning at night is definitely something to avoid. Placing pillows behind you for a more reclined position when you sleep reduces the risk of turning at night. 

Make sure you have the right mattress

A lot of people do not realize how much of an effect their mattress has on their bodies. During the healing process after shoulder surgery, a comfortable mattress with appropriate support can help to reduce discomfort. It also helps to bring your body into proper alignment, which reduces the risk of experiencing additional problems – such as lower back pain – while your shoulder is already experiencing pain symptoms. 

use ice packs on your shoulder

Ice packs are great for relieving pain and inflammation. These are often advised for acute scenarios – such as after suffering an injury in sports. Using an ice pack can also be helpful if you have had shoulder surgery. An ice pack on your shoulder before bed may help to relieve pain and inflammation. This could help you sleep better


Shoulder surgery is an invasive procedure that can cause discomfort for a few weeks. This can make sleeping after shoulder surgery hard. There are a few strategies that you can use to improve your comfort and relieve pain symptoms after you had this type of surgery. 

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