How to Sleep in Recliner After Shoulder Surgery

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How to sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery? The best way to sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery is to sleep while wearing an arm sling and propping up your injured arm with a pillow placed under your elbow and hand. Doing so relieves the pressure from your shoulder, promoting better recovery.

One of the biggest complaints made by anyone who has had shoulder surgery is difficulty sleeping. Shoulder surgery is something that is very painful to deal with because there are a lot of nerve endings in the shoulder that may cause discomfort. Therefore, finding the ideal sleeping position is very important.

It’s no wonder that many consider using a recliner chair to find better comfort while sleeping. Many ask the question: how do you sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery? In this post, we’ll cover the best way to sleep, including how long to sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery. Let’s get into it.

Why Sleep in Recliners After Shoulder Surgery

A recliner can help position your shoulder properly while sleeping. It also prevents the arms to move around.

Following any type of shoulder surgery, including rotator cuff repair, labral repair, or arthroscopic debridement, most people need to wear an arm sling to help keep their shoulder in place while it is recovering. Because the arm sling has to be worn at all times, finding a comfortable sleeping position can be a challenge.

Enter, a recliner chair. In addition to its numerous benefits, sleeping in a recliner is ideal when recovering from a surgery, especially after a shoulder surgery. It allows you to sleep in a reclined position, allowing you to maximize comfort while sleeping.

You may be wondering, why sleep in recliners after shoulder surgery? The reason why it's recommended to sleep in a recliner after a shoulder surgery is to protect your shoulder while putting less stress on the joint. A recliner also allows you to sleep without turning over inadvertently. Think of it as a more comfortable and personal hospital bed.

According to Dr. Bryan Kamps, MD, for Spectrum Health, recliners are especially helpful for people recovering from surgery. A patient who had shoulder surgery, for example, may feel less pain while relaxing in a recliner because the chair keeps the shoulder elevated. The kicker here is that the recliner should fit you properly.

How Do You Sleep in a Recliner After Shoulder Surgery? 

  1. Wear your arm sling in bed - It’s paramount to wear your arm sling even when you’re sleeping at night, especially during the first few weeks. This will protect your shoulder from excessive movement.
  2. Set the right angle of recline - Generally, the ideal recline angle for sleeping in a recliner is at 45-degrees. This will allow your shoulder to remain elevated while still putting your lower back at ease.
  3. Hug a pillow with your injured arm - Place it under your elbow and hand. This will promote healthy blood flow during your sleep. Plus, it’s super comfy to hug a snuggly pillow while you sleep.
  4. Support your arm with additional pillows - This is crucial. You can also use a rolled up blanket or towel, if you find either one more comfortable. The goal is to prevent your arm from sliding from your body.

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Best Tips and Tricks to Sleeping in a Recliner After Shoulder Surgery

In addition to sleeping in a recliner after a shoulder surgery properly, here are some simple tips and tricks to promote better comfort and enhance the healing process:

1. Apply ice before sleeping

Pain after a shoulder surgery is normal and is to be expected. That is why managing the pain and soreness is important to fall asleep and stay asleep. Applying cold ice to your sore shoulder 30 minutes before going to bed can work wonders in reducing inflammation and relieving the overall pain.

A smart tip is to use a cryo cuff or ‘iceman’ while you sleep. Many patients had stated that they’re worth it, as wearing one while you sleep will significantly reduce the pain. While it’s more effective to change the water once every hour, you can fall asleep with the cryo cuff on your shoulder and be just fine.

2. Take your medication properly

Taking your medication as recommended by your doctor or surgeon is paramount in managing post-surgery pain before bedtime. Plan ahead and time out when to take medication. To allow maximum pain relief and efficiency while you sleep, try to take your medication 30 minutes before going to bed.

3. Limit activity during the day

One of the worst things you can do after a shoulder surgery is to aggravate the injury. An arm sling is designed to support the shoulder while it’s recovering from the pulling effects of gravity. Minimal activity during the day will result in less swelling and soreness, which in turn, allow you to get a good night sleep.

4. Wear an arm sling in bed

Always remember to wear your arm sling in bed, as recommended by your doctor or surgeon. This is to remove unnecessary tension from your injured shoulder. Doing so will also help you avoid accidentally moving into an uncomfortable or even damaging position unknowingly during sleep.

5. Use additional pillows for support

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. It’s important to not accidentally roll over onto your injured shoulder and damage it further. Therefore, try to stack pillows beside or behind your injured shoulder to prevent it from rolling during sleep. As long as it comfortably elevates your lower arm and isn't too slippery, you’re good to go.

How Long to Sleep in a Recliner After Shoulder Surgery

How long should you sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery? Generally, you will most likely need to sleep in a recliner for about 6 weeks or more, depending on the type of surgery you had. As your shoulder discomfort subsides with time, you can slowly adjust your sleeping position gradually.

PRO TIP: The amount of time you need to sleep in a recliner after a shoulder surgery will depend on a number of factors, including severity of injury, age, height, weight, and the recliner itself. It’s best to follow the recommendations of your doctor or surgeon for the best recovery results.

Bottom Line

And there you have it, a simple guide on how to sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery. Proper shoulder recovery takes time. While it can be difficult to get comfortable during the recovery stage, applying the simple tips with the right guidelines will allow you to sleep better and recover faster.