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.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/11/2011.


  • 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

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy