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14th November 2022

6 Tips To Sleep Better After ACL Surgery

Dr. Devan Patel, PharmD
How To Sleep After ACL Surgery

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery is a major knee surgery that involves replacing a prominent ligament in your knee.

Like with any major surgical procedure, you can expect pain, swelling, and inflammation post-surgery.

These symptoms will be coupled with reduced mobility as you will be required to keep weight off the injured knee for quite some time. 

Rest during recovery is vital. During sleep is when your body does most of its repair work.

Lack of sleep can make you cranky, more prone to illnesses, and lengthen your recovery time.

However, many people may find sleep difficult when they are experiencing pain after surgery. 

Follow the 6 tips in this article to learn how to get better sleep after your ACL surgery. 


How To Sleep Better After ACL Surgery

The first step in getting a better night’s sleep after ACL surgery is to ensure you are doing everything right to recover more quickly.

By following proper wound care practices and following your doctor or surgeon’s instructions, you will avoid further complications.

Once you’ve done that, follow these tips below for better sleep after ACL surgery. 


1. Find Your Most Comfortable Sleeping Position

Finding the perfect sleeping position can be difficult, even when you’re not recovering from surgery.

But after ACL surgery, finding your sweet spot in bed will be even trickier due to limited mobility.

While everyone’s comfy position will be different, it’s suggested to sleep on your back during the initial part of your recovery. 

Sleeping on your back allows you to keep your leg straight and elevated which is necessary immediately post-surgery.

You will need to place bed pillows or a wedge pillow underneath your calf to keep your knee elevated above your heart while sleeping. 

Once you regain more mobility in your knee, you can try sleeping on your side with a pillow in between your legs.

Sleeping on your stomach, however, is not recommended until fully healed.

If you find it uncomfortable sleeping in your bed, try a reclining chair. A recliner will give you the ability to raise your legs if they are causing discomfort. 

2. Take Pain-Relieving Medications

Pain-relieving medications prescribed by your doctor or purchased over the counter is the easiest way to get more sleep after ACL surgery.

Pain relief medications will help to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation, which are the main culprits that cause discomfort post-surgery. 

Talk to your doctor about what pain-relieving medications are right for you, and never take more than what was prescribed by your doctor or recommended on the packaging.

Make sure you take them in a timely manner to avoid an interruption in pain relief.

Being free of pain or discomfort will make it much easier to get some shut-eye. 

3. Elevate and Ice Your Leg Throughout the Day

Applying ice to your injury along with elevating your injured knee above your head is vital for reducing swelling and inflammation.

Because swelling and inflammation cause the most discomfort, you should be vigilant in following this step.

Your doctor will likely recommend you ice your knee every 2-3 hours for at least 10 minutes at a time. 

Doing so will help reduce swelling and pain in the area.

You should also be mindful of keeping your leg elevated when sitting or lying down.

Elevating your leg will help excess fluid drain away from your injury, reducing inflammation.

Make sure you follow this guideline throughout the day as well as shortly before bed. 

4. Wear a Compression Sock

A compression sock can be worn on your injured leg to prevent blood clots and help reduce pain and inflammation.

Compression socks force blood flow to the injured knee, helping the injury receive the nutrients and oxygen it needs to repair itself.

It is also useful for preventing blood clots from forming and causing major complications.

Compression socks or stockings can be worn daily for long periods of time and only need to be removed when bathing.

Consult with your doctor about when it’s right for you to continue or discontinue using compression socks or stockings.

By helping to reduce swelling and inflammation, compression socks may help you get a few more hours of sleep. 

5. Consider Dietary Supplements

While prescription pain medications are the most effective pain relievers, they are not without side effects.

Some prescription drugs are addictive, making them unsafe to use long-term.

Natural nutrients and herbal supplements may provide pain-relieving benefits along with anti-inflammatory and wound-healing benefits.*

These ingredients include essential vitamins and minerals as well as herbal plant ingredients.

WoundVite is an all-natural multi-nutrient supplement that contains 21 powerful ingredients formulated for supporting wound recovery.*

Including a daily multi-nutrient supplement like WoundVite in your treatment plan may help you recover from your surgery faster, thus helping you sleep better.*

You can order our doctor and pharmacist-formulated WoundVite from Zen Nutrients: Here!

6. Don’t Sleep in a Knee Brace

Some surgeons believe that wearing a knee brace post ACL surgery will help you to achieve full-knee extension, which is why they recommend sleeping in one. However, opinions on this vary greatly.

Many doctors and surgeons don’t recommend one at all, especially during sleep. 

Wearing a knee brace in bed can be hot and uncomfortable, making sleep more difficult.

If your doctor wants you to wear a knee brace, ask them about removing it at night.

Unless they specifically instruct you to wear one while you sleep, taking it off at night will likely be a non-issue. 

The Bottom Line

Lack of sleep is common for many patients recovering from ACL surgery.

You may only be able to achieve a few hours at a time in the beginning but over time sleep will become easier.

Following your doctor’s recovery orders are essential for a speedy and non-complicated recovery.

Be patient with your body and give yourself time to heal. Now is the time to rest and let your body do the hard work. 


* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.