How Does Surgery Impact Sleep?

How Does Surgery Impact Sleep?

After surgery, be it minor or major, a lot of people think that they will be able to heal and recover fast by sleeping well. 

But, the truth is that it can be hard to get better sleep after surgery for many reasons that may vary from one person to another.

There are many explanations as to how surgery can impact an individual’s sleep. Here are a few reasons why surgery impacts sleep:


Why is it difficult to sleep after surgery?

1. Anesthesia

In contrast to normal belief, anesthesia cannot replace a person’s normal sleep cycle. So after waking up from an operation, you may face sleep deprivation for some time. 

Anesthesia can also induce a kind of fatigue in your body which may get worse if you have not slept well in the days leading to the operation. 

Some other factors like stress and anxiety over the upcoming surgery could affect your sleep schedule and cause trouble later on.

2. Medications

Before and after the surgery has been performed, the patients are provided with a wide range of medications and drugs.

These often include blood pressure medicines, pain killers, muscle relaxants, and antibiotics. The goal is to help them heal, recover, and to keep their vitals in check. 


For most of these medicines, fatigue and exhaustion are a basic side effect due to which patients may have trouble sleeping.

3. Post-surgical pain

Another way surgery impacts sleep is through the pain. Despite the kind of surgery you had, the pain and discomfort that comes with it can make it hard to fall asleep. 

It can be very challenging to maintain a comfortable posture that might wake you up during the night averting you from falling into REM sleep.

How to Improve Sleep after a Surgery

1. Non-Medical Actions

One way to sleep better after surgery is by making use of regional anesthesia. This reduces the severity of the pain. 

It also provides the patients with multi-model analgesics which in turn decreases the consumption of opioids.

For people who are shifted to ICU after the operation, certain measures are taken according to the guidelines of sleep care


Other changes that can improve sleep after surgery can include maintaining a dim and quiet atmosphere and using white noise to block out interruptions.

Doctors and nursing staff can also provide patients with earplugs with white noise and eye masks to improve the quality and efficiency of sleep.

2. Taking Sleeping Pills

There are many drugs, medicines, and supplements available in the market that can enhance sleep. For example, melatonin. But before buying any sleeping pill, make sure you consult with your health practitioner.

The main reason to get a consultation is that these pills can have major side effects so proper guidance is a must. 


Also, a sleeping pill can react with other medications you might be taking (pain killers or anti-anxiety pills). This, in turn, may be dangerous or lethal depending upon the severity.  

Thus, a decent amount of sleep is very important to heal after surgery. 

A very important part of self-care is quality sleep. And relaxed nerves can make you get more restful sleep. This will help you deal with the anxiety and stress that comes along with recovery.