How To Sleep After Gallbladder Surgery? Expert Advice And Tips

Any surgery involves pain; resting after surgery is even a greater challenge.  And rest quality is imperative for your mental and physical recovery.

If you fail to fall asleep and sleep well, the recovery process will be a lot longer. Notably, side or stomach sleepers may struggle to find a comfortable lying position because of the incision’s location.

To help you deal with the inconvenience and quickly recover, we’d like to share some advice on how to sleep after gallbladder surgery:

  • Sleep On The Left Side or Back
  • Take Prescribed Pain Medications On Time
  • Minimize Stress to Enhance Relaxation
  • Keep A Tranquil Sleeping Environment
  • Improve Your Diet to Enhance Healing
  • Exercise as Soon as Possible
  • Use Essential Oils

One way or another, these helpful tips will help ease your pain and improve your rest quality. Read to the end!

What Is The Gallbladder?

The gallbladder plays a vital role in the digestive system.

The gallbladder plays a vital role in the digestive system.

The gallbladder is a tiny pear-shaped organ positioned beneath the liver on your abdomen’s right side. Its primary function is to hold bile produced by your liver.

The digestion process occurring in the small intestines needs bile to break fatty acids down from food.

This fluid also aids with eliminating waste products from your body by secreting them into bile and eliminating them through feces.

Though the gallbladder is an essential part of a human’s digestive system, we don’t mandatorily need it to eliminate and digest food. In other words, our digestion can run without one.

Though the gallbladder functions as an organ, it sometimes refuses to work correctly and can cause many problems in your body.

In such cases, doctors would recommend you have the gallbladder surgically removed from your body through cholecystectomy surgery.

Most adults won’t experience long-term effects when living without one gallbladder, except occasional diarrhea.

However, this case doesn’t commonly occur and will improve after a particular time. You’ll resort to completely removing a gallbladder if you consistently have to deal with the symptoms below:

  • Digestive issues, such as vomiting, nausea, and bloating, particularly after eating
  • Frequent fevers
  • Sharp pain in the abdomen’s right upper area. This pain tends to spread to your abdomen’s center area, back, or right shoulder.
  • Yellow skin or jaundice.

Why Is It Difficult To Sleep After Gallbladder Surgery?

Removal of a gallbladder can cause trouble resting during the recovery period. The causes vary depending on why you had to remove your gallbladder at the onset and which surgical procedure type you chose.

Small research in 1990 suggested that people going through open gallbladder surgery under standard anesthesia tended to experience sleeplessness the following nights more severely than those having laparoscopic surgery under standard anesthesia.

The study concluded that your body would lose a considerable amount of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep within a few days after either surgery type.

However, when this period elapsed, your body would strive to provide additional REM sleep to strike a balance again.

The prime factors that affect sleep include:

  • pain from the incisions
  • abdominal bloating or pressure
  • post-anesthesia insomnia
  • difficulty finding a comfortable lying position that is not your typical position

How To Sleep After Gallbladder Surgery?

It’s normal to have post-surgery pain, but trouble getting comfort to lie down will make you miserable.

Don’t forget that enough sleep is crucial for healing from a major physical cut, so you’d better draw up an appropriate plan for how you’ll fall asleep at night.

There are at least six things to keep in mind if you want to have a peaceful dream after gallbladder surgery.

Sleep On The Left Side or Back

Sleep on the left side to reduce pressure points on your abdomen.

Sleep on the left side to reduce pressure points on your abdomen.

The best position is to sleep on the left side, or the back (supine position) since either of these positions will reduce the strain amount put on your abdominal wall, hence less pressure on your wound.

You need to make proper sleeping position adjustments to protect the surgery area.

For example, if you’re a stomach or side sleeper and used to the prone position, it’s time to get accustomed to sleeping with your back in contact with the bed or on the left side.

The reason is that when you lie on the stomach side, you’re adding unnecessary burdens on the surgical wound.

Extra pressure will worsen the symptoms and make the recovery time last longer.

Also, underneath the liver, the right region of your abdomen stores the gallbladder. Resting on the right hand can result in sharp pain after gallbladder surgery.

It’s also a clever idea to put cushions around so you’ll be less likely to turn over.

If you still struggle to get comfortable despite adjusting the lying position, we suggest seeking advice from your physician.

She/he can guide you through some alternative postures and demonstrate them to you.

Or you can see which is the correct position to sleep after gallbladder surgery in this video:

Take Prescribed Pain Medications On Time

After going through a major operation, your doctor will provide an in-depth post-surgery medical-care protocol, which enlists some essential medications to ease your ache and shorten the recovery time.

It’s highly advisable to strictly and timely follow the prescribed pain medication by your doctor.

Generally, physicians will provide you with some pain relievers, either opioid painkillers, like hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine, or prescription-strength NSAIDs drugs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory), such as ibuprofen.

You need to manage your inflammation and pain appropriately because they are the prime impediments to sufficient rest post-surgery.

The more effectively you control your inflammation and pain, the better comfort you can have during nighttime, and the quicker you recover from the gallbladder removal surgery.

Taking pain-relieving medications on time contributes significantly to your success.

Nevertheless, again, if you still struggle to shut your eyes at night, we recommend approaching your physician and explaining your concerns in detail with her/him.

According to your condition, the doctor would probably change some elements in the prescription, usually in dosage.

If necessary, you can discuss the idea of including some medications that can spark easier sleep, like zolpidem or melatonin, with your physician.

Please be aware that you should use zolpidem only when the doctor allows you to. This medication is a prescription-only drug. It might cause some severe side effects because of its habit-forming features.

Minimize Stress to Enhance Relaxation

Read some books or listen to music to relax your mind.Read some books or listen to music to relax your mind.

Any surgery can be taxing, inducing either physical stress to your body or extra emotional, mental stress. Thus, it’s vital to develop a good plan for stress management and reduction.

Million scientific studies reported that taking up some new hobbies, like drawing, reading, or playing chess, journaling, and having in-person conversations with friends are amazing stress-busters, medications aside.

If you’re the one who is good at dealing with daily stress, you can apply your techniques to minimize stress and put your mind at ease during the postoperative period.

Otherwise, you can embark on new activities to entertain yourself in such a burdensome time, like gardening or growing small plants on your windows, painting, or playing musical instruments.

Keep A Tranquil Sleeping Environment

Whether you’re recovering from a cholecystectomy operation or not, a calm, clean, noise-free environment is among those factors determining your sleep quality.

Bedroom preparation should be the first thing to consider. It would be best to invest in moisture-wicking sheets and blackout curtains to generate a relaxing, dark atmosphere.

Before jumping into your mattress, ensure to place all the essentials, including a water bottle, phone charger, and books, near you or on an easy-to-access surface.

You may find it inconvenient to get on and out of bed many times with a wound or even hurt yourself.

Also, use noise-canceling headphones and an eye mask to reduce disturbances during nighttime, particularly if you live in a crowded residential area.

Improve Your Diet to Enhance Healing

Bananas are easy to digest.

Bananas are easy to digest.

Sticking to a healthy lifestyle and diet can do wonders for your health overall and speed up your recovery process, allowing you to return to pristine sleeping patterns as soon as possible.

You can improve your diet quality by eating fresh, organic, balanced, healthy meals in tiny portions at frequently spaced intervals during the day.

Herbal teas, such as green tea, lavender tea, or jasmine tea, are also natural drinks beneficial for your recovery, thanks to their calming and stress-relieving properties.

Indeed, there’s no solid diet a patient has to stick to after gallbladder surgery, but heavy meals the following days are not the right way to go.

To prevent digestive or gas upset besides other inconveniences when striving to rest after gallbladder removal, prepare light, small meals to avoid expanding your stomach and enable easy digestion.

Bananas, broth, and crackers are also strongly recommended options. Steer clear of alcohol, processed foods, and fatty foods, and meats to guarantee efficient digestion.

Exercise as Soon as Possible

Light exercises will help you turn back to pristine condition quickly.

Light exercises will help you turn back to pristine condition quickly.

Adequate rest is undoubtedly vital following gallbladder surgery. Nonetheless, it’s advisable to start lightly exercising right when doctors deem it safe.

Unwillingly being a couch potato after an illness is one of the primary reasons for the inability to sleep during this time.

That’s why you should do gentle exercises as soon as your doctor allows you to. This method is a crucial step towards better rest.

Jogging is a good exercise that doesn’t require much effort to do. Start gradually and slowly raise the distance between your legs without straining.

Remember to avoid demanding exercises that involve fast movement or lifting until you have your physician’s permission.

Walking aside, you can also take up tai chi and yoga. These workouts both benefit your healing process.

Yet, note to avoid overdoing them, particularly within the first or two weeks after the operation.

To optimize your entire well-being, we advise you to practice body stretches, breathing exercises, and yoga for 15-20 minutes at least per day.

But again, you have to observe your bed rest a couple of days after gallbladder surgery and do physical activities only when you have your physician’s permission.

Use Essential Oils

Another helpful tip to adopt is to apply aromatherapy. If used in coordination with traditional treatment, it can help reduce the ache during the healing period.

You can apply the scent of lavender, eucalyptus, chamomile, or rosemary oil to the atmosphere where you rest using a small oil diffuser.

Surprisingly, you’ll feel calmer, more relaxed, thus sleeping more soundly. Particularly, lavender is tremendously conducive to shutting your eyes.

It’s possible to either use a diffuser or inhale the oil out of the bottle directly.

Additional Tips for Better Sleep

If you’re unsure about anything, contact your doctor.

If you’re unsure about anything, contact your doctor.

Apart from the above expert methods, we suggest some additional tips that can aid with sleeping after gallbladder surgery and even the recovery period.

First, set a routine. When you come home from the hospital, there’s a high chance you lose your natural resting rhythms. So, try to establish a consistent schedule of opening your eyes and hitting the hay at the same time every day.

Second, get adequate light in the daytime. Though you have to be unwillingly sedentary and can’t do outdoor exercises, proper sun exposure will help you have a shuteye more easily.

Mimicking natural light from a lightbox is also acceptable. Particular natural supplements, such as magnesium or melatonin, can aid better relaxation and sleep.

Yet, before taking other supplements, remember to confirm with your doctor to ensure they don’t function against any prescribed medication.

The Bottom Line

Though a cholecystectomy is not a particularly invasive procedure, the patient can still suffer from pain and sleeplessness post-surgery.

Thankfully, it’s not that arduous to sleep tight like a baby this period as long as you maintain the correct routine, sleep in the right position, and follow the doctor’s instructions properly.

That’s all about how to sleep after gallbladder surgery. Quick healing!

Related Articles:
How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep Following Gallbladder Surgery
Gallbladder Removal Surgery: What to Expect at Home

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