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Sleep After Heart Surgery

Insomnia

Many people complain of having trouble sleeping for some time after heart 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

If you cannot sleep following heart surgery, try these tips:

  • If you have pain, take your pain medication about ½ hour before bedtime.
  • Arrange the pillows so you can maintain a comfortable position and decrease muscle strain.
  • Avoid napping too much during the day.
  • Remember to balance activity with rest during recovery from open heart surgery.
  • If you feel nervous or anxious, talk to your spouse, 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.
  • Get in a comfortable position. Tense and relax muscles. Begin with your feet and work your way up to your shoulders.
  • Ask your partner to give you a back rub.
  • Take a relaxing shower.
  • Get into a bedtime routine. Follow the same rituals to let your body know it is time to relax and get to sleep.

If these steps do not help you sleep, don’t lose hope. Your normal sleep patterns will return within a few months following heart surgery. Call your doctor if:

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

For more information on insomnia

Reviewed: 12/12

Talk to a Nurse: Mon. - Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (ET)

Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

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This information is provided by 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.

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