What Is The Best Position To Sleep After Heart Surgery?
It’s a great question. And, as I personally learned after my double heart valve replacement operation (known as the Ross Procedure), it’s a tricky question to answer. Plus, if you’re like me and you really enjoy your sleep, this is a critical question to ponder.
Actually, to best answer this question, you need to consider the time following your operation to determine the best position for sleeping after open heart surgery. Why?
Well, immediately following open heart surgery you will not have a choice. Sorry to be a buzz kill.
As you can see here in my pictures from the I.C.U., there are tubes everywhere. The only real option for you to sleep is on your back.
Then, you will come from the hospital. YEAAHHHHH! Plus, no more tubes sticking out of your body! However, for the first few weeks, you may have some trouble sleeping. I had some night sweats and insomnia. I used Halcion, as a sleeping pill, to sleep through the night.
As for best sleeping position options… During the first few weeks after cardiac surgery, soreness from the median sternotomy (aka your cracked rib cage) will be pretty intense. Therefore, I chose to continue my ‘on-the-back’ sleep style.
As your chest plate starts to heal, the best position for sleeping after open heart surgery will begin to change.
Personally, I love to sleep on my tummy. I have my own favorite position for sleep – on my stomach, one arm under one pillow and the other arm over a second pillow. Not to mention, I typically like to sleep with one leg over the covers. Am I weird?
Anyways, back to the best position for sleep after open heart surgery.
Now, it’s a few weeks after open heart surgery. Your chest is healing. You will be tempted to sleep on your side. Go for it! I’ll never forget that first night of sleep on my side. It was pretty darn good. I felt progress. I was healing! If you want, try for the stomach. You’re not going to break. If it hurts, roll back to your side.
I don’t think I fully made it to my tummy for sleep until the seventh week following surgery. But, I have to tell you, that was one of the greatest sleeps I ever had! 🙂
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.