Home / Blog December 28, 2022 Updated on December 21, 2023

9 min read

How To Sleep After Hip Replacement (For Faster Recovery)

After a big surgery like a hip replacement, there are a lot of aftercare recommendations to keep in mind. Getting good, restorative rest is at the top of the list. But there are certain sleep positions to avoid after hip replacement, so it’s important to come up with a bedtime plan that works for you.

How To Sleep After Hip Replacement (For Faster Recovery)

Bearassentials

Pain after hip replacement can often make it difficult to sleep.

It’s important to keep your legs still and reduce pressure on your operative side.

Supportive pillows can help keep your body in a pain-free sleeping position. 

Did you know?
Approximately 7 million Americans have had a hip or knee replacement!

The trick to how to sleep after hip replacement comes down to good support. By creating a sleep environment that encourages pain-free sleep, you might find yourself with a better night’s sleep and a less painful recovery. So to help you find that restorative rest, we’ve outlined some of the best tips and tricks for how to sleep after hip surgery.

Side Sleeping After Hip Replacement

People often recommend sleeping on your side to reduce pain when sleeping after surgery. But for those who aren’t naturally side sleepers, this might be easier said than done.

The question might not be how to sleep on your side after hip replacement, but how to find a pain-free sleeping position that works for you.

How to Sleep On Your Back After Hip Replacement

Sleeping on your back actually may be one of the best sleeping positions post-surgery. On your back, you won’t be putting significant pressure on either of your hips, and your legs won’t have as much room to move around.

There are just a couple of pointers to keep in mind: try to keep a pillow between your legs and try to avoid crossing your legs.

How to Sleep On Your Side After Hip Replacement

In this position, it’s a good idea to try sleeping with a pillow between your legs. A larger pillow or two pillows together might be necessary to keep your legs fully supported.

If you tend to move around a lot during sleep, it can be a good idea to use extra support to keep yourself lying on the non-operative side. While you’re asleep, you might naturally roll over onto the wrong side, causing pain to the operation area.

A supportive body pillow like our Cuddler can be a big help with this, or you can try a combination of ordinary pillows and wedge pillows.

Sleeping Positions to Avoid After Hip Replacement

Other Sleeping Positions For Hip Replacement

You may find that a different combination of body and pillow placement works best for you. Using bolster pillow like our Cuddling is ideal for additional support wherever you need The most important thing to watch out for is the positioning of your hips and legs. You’ll want to make sure that you’re doing all you can to keep your legs still while making yourself as comfortable as possible.

You might also find it difficult to get in and out of bed after hip replacement. If you’re using a walking aid like a walker or cane, it can be a big help here. You can rely on the support of your assistive device to slowly lower yourself onto the bed, taking care to safely extend the leg that received the hip replacement.

By setting up your supportive pillows first, you can make it a little smoother to ease into that safe sleeping position. When you’re getting out of bed, the first step will be to move any of those pillows so that they’re no longer obstructing your movement.

Sleeping Positions to Avoid After Hip Replacement

After you get home from the hospital, you’ll first want to consider what not to do after hip replacement surgery. It’s easy to fall back into your usual sleeping habits. But there are a few sleeping positions to avoid after hip surgery.

First, you’ll want to be careful not to sleep on your stomach. This sleeping position does nothing to keep your hips still, and it can even cause additional neck and back pain. Any extra pain is definitely something you want to avoid after surgery.

It’s also important to avoid placing pillows under your knees when you’re sleeping.While supportive pillows are a key part of recovering from surgery, you want to place them in the right places. If you prop up your knees, your legs might slide around while you sleep, and you’ll also be putting added pressure on your hips.

Generally, it’s best to avoid any sleeping position that could cause your legs to move around while you’re sleeping. Additionally, if your joints are experiencing any swelling or pain, it can help to rest with your leg elevated above your heart.

Turning Over In Bed After Hip Replacement

Turning over in bed after a hip replacement can be challenging, especially in the early days of recovery. But worry not, we have just the right tips to help you turn over in bed safely after your hip replacement:

1. Plan Ahead: Before you lie down, make sure you have everything you need within reach, such as medications, water, and any assistive devices like a reacher or a walker.

2. Use Pillows: Place pillows or a foam wedge between your legs to keep your new hip in a neutral position, which can help reduce strain when turning.

3. Engage Your Core: Tighten your abdominal muscles before you start to turn. This can provide stability and support.

4. Roll to the Side: To turn from your back to your side, bend your non-operated knee and use your non-operated leg as a pivot point. Keep your operated leg straight and slide it to the side you want to turn. Use your upper body to help with the motion

5. Support with Your Arms: If you have the strength and your surgeon allows, you can use your arms to support your upper body and take some weight off your hip as you turn.

It is important to be gentle with yourself as you figure out how to turn over after a hip replacement. Remember to steer away from sudden movements that could strain your hips. Also, in the early days following your surgery, it is perfectly okay to ask for help from a caregiver or loved one to assist you with turning in bed.

Trouble Sleeping After Hip Replacement Surgery

Trouble sleeping after hip replacement surgery is not uncommon, as discomfort, changes in routine, and the recovery process can affect your ability to get a good night’s rest. Below, we share some tips to help improve your sleep quality during the recovery period:

1. It is advisable to follow your pain medication schedule as prescribed by your doctor.

2. Consider elevating your operated leg as needed to ease discomfort and reduce swelling

3. It’s best to avoid sleeping on the side of your operated hip for the first few weeks.

4. Engaging in your prescribed exercises during the day can promote better sleep at night.

5. It's a good idea to reduce fluid intake before bedtime to minimize nighttime bathroom trips.

As you heal, you may also incorporate relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises to help ease anxiety before bedtime. This is especially helpful because some pain management medications may affect your sleep. So, difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep are common experiences during recovery, but your sleep should improve as you heal.

How To Get Out Of Bed After Hip Replacement

After a hip replacement surgery, knowing how to safely get in and out of bed is crucial for a smooth and comfortable recovery. The following steps offer a gentle and supportive approach to this process, ensuring minimal strain on your new hip joint while promoting your safety and well-being:

1. Ensure a clear path and have someone nearby for support if needed.

2. Sit on the edge of the bed slowly and steadily

3. Keep the operated leg straight in front and bend the non-operated leg.

4. Place your hands on the bed beside your hips and push to lift your upper body.

5. Swing your non-operated leg off the bed and use it to support your weight as you sit up.

6. Gradually stand up, keeping the operated leg straight, and use a walker or crutches if recommended.

It is also important to remember to follow your surgeon’s specific guidance for your unique situation and prioritize your safety as you recover.

When Can I Sleep On My Non Operated Side After Hip Replacement?

Sleeping on your non-operated side after a hip replacement surgery depends on your surgeon's specific recommendations and your individual progress. In general, it is typically advised to avoid sleeping on the side of your operated hip for at least six weeks or as per your surgeon's guidance. This period allows the surgical site to heal and minimizes the risk of complications such as dislocation.

However, it's crucial to follow your surgeon's instructions closely, as they may have unique recommendations based on the surgical technique used, your overall health, and the progress of your recovery. They will provide personalized advice regarding when it is safe to resume sleeping on your non-operated side.

The Best Sitting Position After Hip Replacement

The best sitting position after a hip replacement surgery varies depending on personal comfort and the specific surgical approach used by your orthopedic surgeon. However, there are some general guidelines that can help you sit more comfortably during your recovery process, such as:

1. Using an Elevated Seat: To reduce strain on your hip joint, you can sit on a chair or cushion that is higher than usual. You may even use a special chair with an elevated seat, or add cushions to your existing chair. The idea is to minimize the angle at which your hip bends when you sit down.

2. Maintaining Good Posture: It is best to sit with your back straight and shoulders held back. This helps distribute your weight evenly and minimizes strain on your hip joint

3. Keeping Your Knees Lower Than Your Hips: When sitting, your knees should be lower than your hips to maintain the best sitting position for hip comfort. You may use a footstool or cushion under your feet to achieve this position if needed.

4. Avoiding Crossing Your Legs: Crossing your legs can place additional strain on your hip joint. It’s best to keep your feet flat on the floor, or if your feet don't reach the floor, you can use a footstool for support.

5. Shifting Your Weight Periodically: Avoid sitting in the same position for an extended period. It is best to shift your weight and change your sitting position occasionally to prevent stiffness and pressure sores.

How Long Should I Elevate My Leg After Hip Replacement?

The duration and frequency of leg elevation can vary from person to person, so it’s crucial to follow your surgeon’s specific instructions. As your recovery progresses and swelling decreases, you can gradually reduce the frequency and duration of leg elevation. Always consult your orthopedic surgeon for personalized advice on the duration and frequency of leg elevation, as it depends on your individual circumstances.

You should elevate your leg after hip replacement surgery primarily during the immediate post-op period, especially in the first 48-72 hours when swelling and pain are most significant. During this time, aim to elevate your leg as much as possible, especially when you're not actively moving.

Which Hip Replacement Pillow Should I Use?

The best hip replacement pillow is one that is specially designed to provide comfort, especially during sleep or when sitting. Body pillows are an excellent option as they offer posture support and help reduce the pressure on your operated hip.

When choosing from a wide range of body pillows available, consider opting for ergonomically designed pillows. Our Cuddler, for instance, is a soothing body pillow that melts away tension and relieves pressure from your joints. The Cuddler is made of plant-based Melofoam™, which is responsive enough to curve to your body and keep you aligned.

In the next section, we describe another kind of pillow that may be helpful during your recovery, namely, a wedge pillow.

How To Use A Wedge Pillow After Hip Replacement

To properly use a wedge pillow after hip replacement surgery, consider the following steps. First, place the wedge pillow on your bed with the higher end positioned at your head and the lower end near your feet. Next, sit on the bed and gently lower yourself onto the wedge pillow, making sure your operated leg remains straight. Position your non-operated leg comfortably on the bed.

The wedge pillow serves to keep your new hip in a neutral and safe position, reducing strain and supporting your comfort during sleep and rest. Adjust the pillow’s angle to your preference while maintaining proper leg alignment for an optimal recovery experience.

Hip Replacement Recovery

The duration and frequency of leg elevation can vary from person to person, so it’s crucial to follow your surgeon’s specific instructions. As your recovery progresses and swelling decreases, you can gradually reduce the frequency and duration of leg elevation. Always consult your orthopedic surgeon for personalized advice on the duration and frequency of leg elevation, as it depends on your individual circumstances.

You should elevate your leg after hip replacement surgery primarily during the immediate post-op period, especially in the first 48-72 hours when swelling and pain are most significant. During this time, aim to elevate your leg as much as possible, especially when you're not actively moving.

Hip Replacement Recovery

The best hip replacement pillow is one that is specially designed to provide comfort, especially during sleep or when sitting. Body pillows are an excellent option as they offer posture support and help reduce the pressure on your operated hip.

When choosing from a wide range of body pillows available, consider opting for ergonomically designed pillows. Our Cuddler, for instance, is a soothing body pillow that melts away tension and relieves pressure from your joints. The Cuddler is made of plant-based Melofoam™, which is responsive enough to curve to your body and keep you aligned.

In the next section, we describe another kind of pillow that may be helpful during your recovery, namely, a wedge pillow.

How To Use A Wedge Pillow After Hip Replacement

To properly use a wedge pillow after hip replacement surgery, consider the following steps. First, place the wedge pillow on your bed with the higher end positioned at your head and the lower end near your feet. Next, sit on the bed and gently lower yourself onto the wedge pillow, making sure your operated leg remains straight. Position your non-operated leg comfortably on the bed.

The wedge pillow serves to keep your new hip in a neutral and safe position, reducing strain and supporting your comfort during sleep and rest. Adjust the pillow’s angle to your preference while maintaining proper leg alignment for an optimal recovery experience.

Hip Replacement Recovery

It can take over a month to recover from hip surgery, and during this time, your daily habits may change a lot. The biggest question might be how long until you can sleep normally, but there are other habits to consider as well — especially given how much your day-to-day lifestyle can impact your sleep, and vice versa!

After hip replacement, your movement will slow down, so it’s important to carefully follow your doctor’s recommendations for post-operative rehabilitation. Following your treatment plan, you’ll eventually move on to more advanced exercises for hip replacement after 3 months. Eventually, you’ll have recovered something closer to your full range of motion.

Returning to other activities like driving or playing sports depends on your personal comfort level and the medications you might be taking. It’s recommended to avoid high impact sports (like running or playing basketball) for a full six weeks after hip surgery, and how soon you can drive depends on which hip you had replaced and what medications you’re taking.

All of this change in routine can have a big impact on how easy it is to fall (and stay) asleep. While there’s no magic switch that will make it easy to fall asleep during the recovery journey, you can set yourself up for success by keeping up your best sleep hygiene habits: avoid screens before bedtime, reduce your caffeine intake, and stick to a calming bedtime routine

Conclusion

After a major surgery like a hip replacement, getting good sleep is more important than ever. The most helpful thing you can do is closely follow your doctor’s recommendations for recovery. With the assistance of sleep aids like body pillows and wedge pillows, you can find a sleeping position that works for you and minimizes your pain levels. And if you’re able to continue keeping up good sleep hygiene after your surgery, restorative rest can be on the way in no time.