How to Sleep After Gallbladder Surgery

A Cholecystectomy, gallbladder removal surgery, is a standard solution for those who have gallstones or complications from pain and inflammation. While it’s a minimally invasive procedure, it is considered safe, and most people do not experience difficulties in their recovery.

Often, sleep disturbances arise from the slight side effects after the operation, rather than issues arising from the now missing organ. It can take from 4-6 weeks to fully recover from open surgery or up to three weeks for laparoscopic surgery, but thankfully you don’t need to wait that long to get some rest.

Tips to Help You Sleep After Gallbladder Surgery

Like most surgeries, your whole body will likely be delicate or sensitive for a few days, up to a few weeks. You should be able to get back to your daily activities slowly, but as time goes on, you want to ensure that you are getting adequate sleep to help with the pain and speed up the healing process. Here are a few ways to get through the night.

  • Prop yourself up with pillows – Leaning back and sitting up may be challenging and painful for the first few nights. When laying down to go to bed, it may feel more comfortable to sleep with a few pillows propped behind you. Being propped up will also make it easier to get in and out of bed. If you are a stomach sleeper, purchasing a wedge pillow will encourage you to remain on your back while you sleep for as long as you need, which will prevent you from rolling onto your stomach and causing more pain.
  • Ease your pain – Some people find that they feel pain for up to a few weeks after the surgery. Ensure that you maintain your post-op pain management plan given to by your surgeon. Taking your medication as prescribed will help to avoid waking in the middle of the night. If you find that you have excessive pain in your shoulder from the positioning during the surgery, topical heat rubs, such as Icy Hot, can help to minimize the pain.
  • Reduce the swelling – Directly after surgery, there will likely be swelling in your stomach. Before bed, use an ice pack for about 20 minutes to help minimize and ease the swelling around the incisions.
  • Help your nausea – It’s perfectly normal to feel nauseous after an operation. If you are prone to nausea, be sure to request a prescription to help settle your stomach. You should also eat foods that won’t upset or disrupt your digestion.
  • Regulate your bowel movements – Frequent midnight trips to the bathroom after an operation can impede on your sleep quality. Avoid foods that may cause diarrhea and take a fiber supplement for constipation. If irregular bowel movements last for more than two weeks, speak to your doctor for other options.

Remember that with any invasive procedure, especially one in your stomach, the body’s natural reactions may prevent you from achieving the sleep you need. Be sure to stay on top of your medication and consult with your surgeon if any severe side effects appear.