Is it common to have trouble sleeping after surgery?

Yes. Many people complain of having trouble sleeping after surgery. You may experience insomnia (an inability to sleep) because of:

  • The affects of anesthesia
  • Discomfort related to healing
  • Changes in your daily routine
  • Stress from personal concerns

Tips for a better night's sleep

If you have pain, take your pain medication about 1/2 hour before bedtime. Arrange the pillows so you can maintain a comfortable position and decrease muscle strain.

In addition, follow these tips:

  • Avoid napping too much during the day. At the same time, remember to balance activity with rest during recovery.
  • If you feel nervous or anxious, talk to your partner or a trusted friend. Get your troubles off your mind.
  • Avoid caffeine in the evenings (such as chocolate, coffee, tea and colas).
  • Listen to relaxing music or a guided imagery audio program.
  • Tense and relax your muscles. Begin with your feet and work your way up to your shoulders.
  • Take a relaxing shower (or bath, if permitted).

If these steps do not help you sleep, don't lose hope. Your normal sleeping patterns will return within a few weeks.

When should I call my doctor?

You should call your doctor if:

  • You notice changes in your behavior
  • A lack of sleep is causing problems in your life
  • Normal sleeping patterns do not return within two to three weeks

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. What is Insomnia? Accessed 10/6/2011

National Sleep Foundation. Can’t Sleep? What to Know About Insomnia. Accessed 10/6/2011

© Copyright 1995-2011 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 9/11/2011…#4937