Insomnia After Surgery: Why It Happens & 11 Easy Tips To Help

a man sitting on a bed

Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by theworldofsleepstaff

Insomnia is a common problem after surgery. It can be caused by pain, anxiety, medications and other factors. However, you can do several things to help yourself get a good night’s sleep.

Getting enough sleep is essential for healing and recovery after surgery. But insomnia can delay healing and make it more difficult for your body to fight infection. It can also lead to depression and anxiety.

This article will explain what causes insomnia after surgery, tips to improve your sleep and when to see a doctor. Though ultimately we recommend you aways consult your doctor for any health concern you have, whatever it is.

But First: What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. People with insomnia may have trouble falling asleep when they first go to bed. They may wake up often during the night or early in the morning. And they may find it hard to nap during the day. Insomnia can be short-term (acute) or can last a long time (chronic).

There are two types of insomnia: primary and secondary. Another health condition does not cause primary insomnia. It may be related to stress or changes in your daily routine. Secondary insomnia is caused by another health condition, such as depression, anxiety, or chronic pain.

Insomnia can cause problems during the day. People with insomnia may feel tired, have trouble concentrating, and may be more accident-prone. Insomnia can also take a toll on your mental health and people with insomnia are more likely to have depression and anxiety.

Treating insomnia is essential. Insomnia can be treated with changes in your sleep habits and lifestyle. Medications may also be used to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

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What Causes Insomnia After Surgery?

Several factors can contribute to insomnia after surgery.

Pain: Surgery can often be painful. This can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Pain medications can also cause side effects that interfere with sleep.

Anxiety: Surgery can be a stressful experience. This can lead to anxiety and worry, making it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Medications: Some medications used after surgery can cause side effects that interfere with sleep. These include pain medications, blood pressure medications and some antibiotics.

Sleep environment: After surgery, you may be in a hospital room with bright lights, noise and other disruptions. This can make it hard to sleep.

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Is It Normal To Have Insomnia After Surgery?

It is normal to have some trouble sleeping after surgery. And insomnia may be expected in the first few days or weeks after surgery. This is usually because of pain, anxiety and medications. Most people will start to sleep better as they heal.

If your insomnia lasts more than a few weeks, it may be chronic. Chronic insomnia is when you have trouble sleeping three or more nights a week for at least three months. If you have chronic insomnia, it is essential to get treatment.

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Tips To Improve Insomnia After Surgery

There are several things you can do to help yourself get a good night’s sleep after surgery:

1. Keep A Regular Sleep Schedule

Insomnia is not simply about the number of hours you sleep. It is also essential to have regular sleep patterns.

The best thing you can do is to keep a regular sleep schedule. This means going to bed and getting up simultaneously every day, even on weekends.

You might want to set the alarm to help you stick to your schedule. But avoid using your phone or tablet in bed. The blue light from these devices can keep you awake.

2. Create A Calming Bedtime Routine

A calm, relaxing bedtime routine can help you fall asleep. This could include taking a warm bath, reading or listening to calm music.

Avoid watching television or working on the computer in bed. The light from the screen can make it harder to fall asleep.

Some studies have found that meditation can help improve sleep. However, there are many different types of meditation. For example, some people find it helpful to focus on their breath or a mantra.

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3. Make Your Bedroom Quiet And Dark

Noise and light can disrupt sleep. Try using earplugs or a white noise machine to create a more calming environment.

You might also want to use an eye mask to block out light. If you can’t do this, try dimming the lights in your bedroom an hour before bedtime.

4. Avoid Caffeine And Alcohol

Both caffeine and alcohol can interfere with sleep. Therefore, caffeine should be avoided after 2 pm, and alcohol should be avoided in the evening.

If you smoke, it is also essential to avoid smoking before bed. Nicotine is a stimulant that can make it hard to fall asleep.

5. Get Up And Move During The Day

Exercise can help improve sleep. But it is essential to avoid exercising close to bedtime. A good time to exercise is in the early afternoon.

If you can’t exercise during the day, try taking a brisk walk in the evening. Just be sure to avoid doing this too close to bedtime.

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6. Limit Naps

Napping can interfere with sleep at night. If you need to nap, limit it to 30 minutes and do it early in the day.

Part of the reason why napping can interfere with sleep is that it can make it harder to fall asleep at night. So if you have trouble falling asleep, it may be best to avoid napping altogether.

7. Avoid Worrying In Bed

Worrying in bed can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. So if you are having trouble sleeping, try to avoid worrying about it too much time in bed.

Instead, get out of bed and do something calming, such as reading or listening to music. Only go back to bed when you are feeling sleepy.

It should take you no more than about 20 minutes to fall asleep. If it takes you longer than this, get out of bed and do something else until you feel sleepy again.

8. Limit Screen Time Before Bed

The light from screens can make it harder to fall asleep. So avoid using electronic devices such as phones, tablets and computers for at least an hour before bedtime.

If you must use a screen before bed, try dimmed lighting or wearing blue-light blocking glasses. You can also download software that limits the amount of blue light emitted by your devices.

young guy browsing mobile phone on bed

9. Manage Pain And Anxiety

Pain and anxiety can both interfere with sleep. If you are in pain, talk to your doctor about ways to manage it. This could include taking pain medication or using ice or heat therapy.

If you are anxious, try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. You can also try talking to a therapist about ways to manage anxiety.

10. Use Ice Or Heat

If you have pain in your muscles or joints, ice or heat can help. Ice can help reduce inflammation, while heat can help relax muscles.

To use ice, wrap it in a towel and apply it to the area for 10-15 minutes. To use heat, you can use a heating pad or take a warm bath.

11. Good Pillows And Mattresses

Having a comfortable mattress and pillows is essential for good sleep. If your mattress is over seven years old, it might be time to replace it.

Pillows should be soft but also provide support for your head and neck. If you have neck pain, you might need a unique pillow. You can talk to your doctor or a physical therapist about which type of pillow is best for you.

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Ways To Manage Insomnia Months After Surgery

You must talk to your doctor if you still struggle with insomnia months after surgery. However, some treatments can help, including:

1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Insomnia (CBT-I)

CBT-I is a therapy that can help change the way you think about sleep and manage stress.

2. Medications

Several medications can be used to treat insomnia. These include hypnotics and antidepressants, such as trazodone.

3. Stimulus Control Therapy

This therapy involves making changes to your sleep habits and environment. The goal is to help your body better associate your bed with sleep.

4. Sleep Restriction Therapy

This therapy involves limiting your time in bed to the amount of time you sleep. This can help increase sleep quality.

5. Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing, can help reduce stress and promote sleep.

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Using Sleeping Pills After Surgery

As with any medication, there are risks and benefits to taking sleeping pills after surgery. Sleeping pills can help you get the rest you need to heal, but they can also have side effects.

You must talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking sleeping pills and get their opinion on whether they will work for you.

What To Drink Before Bed For Insomnia After Surgery?

You can drink many different things before bed to help with insomnia after surgery.

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is a popular choice for insomnia. Chamomile contains compounds that can help relax the body and mind.

Valerian Root Tea

Valerian root tea is another herbal tea that can be helpful for insomnia. Valerian root contains compounds that have sedative effects.

Warm Milk

Warm milk is a classic sleep aid. The calcium in milk can help the body relax and may promote sleep.

Lavender Tea

Lavender tea is another herbal tea that can be helpful for insomnia. Lavender has calming effects that may help promote sleep.

Passionflower Tea

Passionflower tea is another herbal tea that can be helpful for insomnia. Passionflower contains compounds that can help relax the body and mind.

clear glass bowl beside yellow flower

When To See A Doctor About Insomnia After Surgery

If you have difficulty sleeping after surgery, you must see a doctor. Insomnia can signify a more serious underlying condition and interfere with your recovery.

You should not hesitate to see a doctor about insomnia if:

– You are not able to fall asleep or stay asleep for more than a few hours at a time.

– You are waking up frequently during the night.

– You are feeling exhausted during the day

– Insomnia is interfering with your ability to function during the day.

– You are experiencing other symptoms along with insomnia, such as anxiety or depression.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. They can help you identify any underlying causes of your insomnia and recommend treatment options to help you get the rest you need.

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Insomnia After Surgery: FAQS

How Long Does Post-Surgical Insomnia Last?

Most people experience some form of insomnia after surgery. This is normal and usually goes away within a week or two.

However, some people may experience chronic post-surgical insomnia that lasts for months or even years. If you are struggling with post-surgical insomnia, treatments available can help.

What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Post-Surgery Insomnia?

Chronic insomnia can lead to several different health problems. It can increase heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure risk. It can also lead to depression and anxiety.

If you are struggling with post-surgical insomnia, it is essential to seek treatment so that you can avoid these long-term effects.

Can I Take Melatonin After Surgery?

Melatonin is generally safe to take after surgery, but always ask your doctor first as they know your circumstance.

Melatonin is a natural hormone that can help regulate your sleep cycle. It is available over-the-counter and does not require a prescription. If you are struggling with post-surgical insomnia, talk to your doctor about whether or not melatonin would be a good option for you.

Caution: Always consult your doctor.

Can Anaesthesia Cause Long-Term Insomnia?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Some people may experience insomnia after surgery due to anaesthesia, while others may not.

It is possible that the anaesthesia can cause changes in your brain that lead to chronic insomnia.

If you are struggling with post-surgical insomnia, talk to your doctor about whether or not anaesthesia could be a contributing factor.