Home / Blog December 29, 2022 Updated on November 10, 2023

7 min read

How To Sleep After Knee Replacement, Best Positions And More

For better sleep after knee replacement, try lying on your back with a small pillow under the upper-calf muscle. The goal is to keep your leg relatively straight to allow for proper blood flow and prevent any hyperextension. If you prefer side sleeping, place a pillow between the knees for support

How To Sleep After Knee Replacement


The best sleeping position when recovering from knee surgery is on your back with your leg supported by a pillow.

If you prefer side sleeping, prop up the recovering knee with a body pillow between the legs.

Avoid putting the leg in a position where the knee is bent or hyperextended. 

Did you know?
Total knee arthroplasty is a surgery commonly performed to treat osteoarthritis. Since it helps relieve pain in the knee, patients typically see improved sleep as a result.

Have you recently undergone knee surgery? Having trouble getting comfortable enough in bed for proper sleep?

Figuring out how to sleep after knee replacement can be the hardest part of recovery. But while some discomfort is to be expected, you don’t need to give up on the dream of quality shut-eye.

Learning the best sleeping positions and the proper way to set yourself up in bed can go a long way to enhancing your rest.

The Effects Of Knee Surgery On Sleep

After going under the knife, you’re sure to notice some changes to your quality of life. Sleep is no different.

In a previous article we explored how pain affects sleep, highlighting how chronic pain interrupts sleep cycles and keeps you up. Pain experienced while recovering from knee replacement is no different.

A 2021 study published in The Journal of ISAKOS took 123 arthroscopic knee surgery patients and gauged the number of sleep disturbances before and after surgery. Prior to surgery there was a 20% chance of self-reported sleep disturbance. After surgery, that number shot up to 99%, 96%, and 90% at weeks 1, 3, and 6, respectively.

The good news is that other studies have shown sleep continues to improve over time and eventually beats out pre-operation levels.

The takeaway? Difficulty sleeping in the beginning is normal, but there are ways to make it a little easier on yourself while aiding recovery.

How Do You Sleep After Hip Replacement?

After a hip replacement, getting a good night's sleep is crucial for your recovery. Therefore, we have curated some handy tips and tricks for you, especially if you are looking for practical tips on how to sleep after meniscus surgery, for instance. Here are some tips to help you snooze comfortably:

1. Pillow Support: Use a bolster pillow to support your hip and keep it elevated. This can reduce swelling and pain.

2. Sleeping Positions: Experiment with different sleeping positions to find what's most comfortable for you. Many people prefer sleeping on their back with a pillow under the surgical leg. We talk more about this in the next section

3. Pain Management: Take any prescribed pain medications as directed, especially before bedtime, to ease discomfort.

4. Proper Bed Height: Ensure your bed is at an appropriate height to make getting in and out easier and safer.

5. Nighttime Preparations: Use the restroom and take care of any other needs before bedtime to minimize disruptions during the night.

6. Sleep Environment: Create a calming sleep environment – dim the lights, keep the room cool, and reduce noise.

Remember that everyone's experience is unique, so don't be discouraged if it takes a little time to find the ideal sleeping setup.

The Best Position To Sleep In After Knee Replacement

This may come as a shock to side sleepers, but the best position to sleep in after knee replacement is on your back. More specifically, on your back with a bit of pillow support

The reason it’s the king of post-knee surgery sleeping positions has to do with the placement of the knee. Lying on your back allows the leg to remain fairly straight and immobile, increasing blood flow to the healing knee and preventing strain. Think of that added juice to the knee as the fuel that gets you back on your feet. If you’re recovering after knee replacement surgery give a Bolster Pillow like our Cuddling a go. Place it under the back of your knees to reduce stress on your spine and support the natural curve in your lower back.

While side sleeping isn’t impossible it can put the knee in awkward positions throughout the night, leading to painful sleep disturbances. That said, it’s the most popular sleeping position, so it may be difficult for some people to avoid.

And if you get set up properly, it’s definitely not the worst way to sleep after surgery.

Best Sitting Position After Knee Replacement

Choosing the best sitting position following knee replacement surgery is essential for a smooth recovery. Here are some tips to help you achieve comfort:

1. Elevate Your Leg: Keeping your surgical leg elevated while sitting can reduce swelling and discomfort. Prop it up with cushions or a footstool.

2. Use Supportive Chairs: Opt for chairs with good back support and armrests, which can make sitting down and getting up more manageable.

3. Maintain a 90-Degree Angle: When you sit, aim to keep your knee at a 90-degree angle. This can alleviate strain on your new joint.

4. Cushions and Pillows: Utilize cushions or pillows to cushion your back and enhance comfort.

5. Regular Movement: Avoid sitting for prolonged periods; take short walks and do gentle knee exercises to prevent stiffness.

6. Avoid Low Seating: Chairs and sofas that are too low can make it challenging to stand up without straining your knee.

Remember, it's essential to consult with your healthcare provider or physical therapist for guidance tailored to your specific condition and needs. With the right sitting position and self-care, your knee replacement recovery can be smoother and more comfortable.

Top 5 Mistakes After Knee Replacement

There are ways that any sleeping position can go wrong, and there are positions that are flat-out bad for your knee after surgery. On top of that, there are a few other mistakes to avoid for optimal recovery.

Mistake Number 1: Sleeping With The Knee Bent

Whether you end up on your back or your side, preventing your knee from bending too much is crucial. What’s too much? Consider a 45 degree angle the most you’ll want to bend your knee. However, the number one rule is to avoid pain, so if it starts to feel uncomfortable, that’s your body’s way of telling you to back it up.

Mistake Number 2: Sleeping With The Knee Hyperextended

While sleeping on your back is the best position to sleep in after knee replacement, gravity can sometimes push the knee down too far, causing it to bend slightly in the wrong direction. Look out for old beds with uneven surfaces and pillows placed too far toward the foot.

Mistake Number 3: Sleeping On The Stomach

If there’s one sleep position to avoid, it’s lying belly-down. Being on your stomach makes it hard to keep your knees in the right position, and it also naturally leads to a lot of bending, flexing, and movement. If it’s your go-to sleep position, you may want to set it aside until after you’ve fully recovered.

You may be wondering, “Why do I sleep on my stomach with one leg bent, after a knee replacement?” Well, sleeping on your stomach with one leg bent can help reduce pressure on your knee and make it feel more comfy. It's like giving your knee a little break while you snooze. Plus, bending one leg can also keep your new knee in a good position.

Mistake Number 4: Ignoring Pillows

Whether you’re recovering from shoulder surgery or you’re trying to get better sleep after partial knee replacement, you won’t want to ignore pillows. Post-operation recovery is one of the many benefits of body pillows when positioned properly. More on that below.

Mistake Number 5: Not Managing Pain Properly

If you’re managing postoperative pain, bedtime prep starts long before you slip under the sheets. For example, consider taking your pain meds 30 minutes to an hour before bed. Icing the knee before bed can also help limit any pain through the night.

Tips For Total Knee Replacement Pain At Night

Experiencing pain at night after a total knee replacement is not uncommon. To address this, maintain a consistent pain management routine as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Elevate your leg with pillows and apply ice to reduce swelling before bedtime. Finding a comfortable sleeping position, such as sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knee, can also help.

As your recovery progresses, nighttime discomfort should gradually subside, but patience and adhering to your post-operative care plan are key to a more restful night's sleep. If the pain persists or worsens, seek immediate medical attention to assess the recovery of your knee replacement.

How To Use A Body Pillow After Knee Replacement

How To Use A Body Pillow After Knee Replacement

Enough about mistakes to avoid. It’s time for pillow tips that can help relieve pain

Studies have shown that body pillows are effective at boosting spinal surgery recovery, and they may work similarly for knee surgery, too. Just try to place the pillow properly so that the knee can stay in a stable position throughout the night.

Body Pillow Positioning For Back Sleepers

Back sleeping is great on its own for some, but to take it to the next level and provide the most comfort possible, you might want to try placing our body pillow under the calf muscle just below the knee. The adaptable Melofoam™ can help keep your knee secure with minimal interruptions to sleep. As an added bonus, propping the knees up slightly can also help with spine alignment.

Body Pillow Positioning For Side Sleepers

A body pillow is even more essential if you want to sleep on your side after knee replacement. For best results, place it between your knees with the recovering knee on top. As an added bonus, you can take advantage of the Cuddler’s size by wrapping your arms around it. This may help keep your entire body in a steady position.


  34 Reviews
Cuddler cta

Ergonomically designed

Made from natural Melofoam™

Additional cover styles available

Cuddle up
Cuddler cta

Cocoonable, couchworthy perfection

Sleep tips for restful nights

Unveil the secrets to restful sleep and join the Napperhood for a chance to win our perfect weighted blanket, the Cotton Napper. Get expert tips and insights delivered to your inbox.

Cotton Napper cta

Can I Have My Leg Raised During Sleep After Knee Replacement?

Anyone with first-aid knowledge will know that keeping injured body parts elevated is helpful after an injury. It helps to keep swelling down and relieve pain at the site of the injury.

Likewise, you can have your leg raised during sleep after knee replacement if it feels good to you. Just make sure you’re propping the leg up with pillows from the top of the calf muscle down and avoid bending or hyperextending the knee too much.

Make sure you set your pillows up in a way that’s comfortable so that they’re not putting pressure on the wrong areas. This can lead to nerves being compressed, leaving your leg with pins and needles.

Play around with a few positions and see what feels right to you.

Why Do I Have Restless Legs After Knee Replacement?

Knee replacement surgery can be a life-changing experience, but it's not uncommon to encounter restless legs as part of your recovery journey. This sensation of restlessness or discomfort in your legs can disrupt your sleep and overall comfort. To tackle this, try some strategies like gentle leg stretches, relaxation exercises, and a heating pad. Additionally, consider talking to your healthcare provider about possible medications or therapies that might help alleviate the restlessness.

Tips For Sleeping After Knee Replacement: NHS Guidance

Restful sleep is essential for a successful knee replacement recovery, and the NHS offers valuable advice to help you achieve it. Following your surgery, it's crucial to keep your leg elevated to reduce swelling, which can affect your sleep quality. The NHS recommends using pillows or cushions to support your leg and maintain the correct position.

Pain management is another key aspect, and your healthcare team will guide you on the right pain relief methods to ensure comfort during the night. Staying active during the day, as advised, can also contribute to better sleep. Remember, with the NHS's expert advice and a little patience, you can be on your way to enjoying peaceful nights again.

What If I Try Sleeping With Knees Up After Knee Replacement Surgery?

You can try elevating your knees up for short periods of time, but sleeping with your knees up after knee replacement surgery is not recommended. Many people find this position more comfortable when sitting or lounging, and it has its benefits. Elevating your knees slightly can help reduce swelling and alleviate pressure on your new knee joint. It might make it easier to find a cozy sleeping position and can assist with managing any pain.

To give it a shot, use a bolster pillow or cushions to support your legs comfortably. However, remember to consult your doctor or surgeon for personalized advice on the best sleeping positions and post-surgery care.

Should I Use A Pillow Under The Knees After Knee Replacement Surgery?

Are there reasons why you should not use a pillow under the knee after this surgery? Yes. Using a pillow under your knees after knee replacement surgery may not be the best choice because it can put unnecessary pressure on your surgical site and affect the alignment of your new knee joint. It's important to keep your knee in a relatively straight position to promote proper healing and reduce the risk of complications.

Placing a pillow under your ankles instead can help you maintain the right alignment while still providing comfort and reducing swelling. Always consult your healthcare provider for their specific recommendations, as they can offer guidance tailored to your unique recovery needs.


Sleeping after knee replacement poses a painful challenge, especially in the first months of recovery. For best results, try to sleep on your back with our Cuddling Bolster Pillow supporting the underside of the knee. Sleeping on your side with a body pillow between your knees may also help as long as you keep the knee relatively straight.

Remember, if you’re in pain now, you probably won’t be forever. There’s light at the end of the surgery recovery tunnel, and a better sleep position can help get you there.