No matter what age someone is or what their daily circumstances are, everyone has trouble sleeping from time to time. It’s a delicate cycle—just eating the wrong thing before bed can result in a whole night of tossing and turning. For people who’ve experienced limb loss, the list of reasons for not sleeping soundly goes on much further. More than 1.6 million Americans have suffered from some type of limb loss, and while not all of these people wear a prosthetic limb, sleeping can pose a new set of problems. Here are our top four tips for getting a comfortable night’s sleep and for making sure your prosthetic limb fits you well for years to come.
Shower at Night
If you’re used to showering in the morning, you might consider changing up your routine after you get your prosthetic limb. The heat from an early morning shower can cause swelling in your limb, which will prevent your prosthetic from fitting correctly. This could cause some real discomfort throughout the day, so try showering at night so your limb isn’t swollen when you wake up.
Put Your Prosthetic On First Thing
In the same spirit, waking up and throwing your legs over the side of the bed can cause swelling in your limb if you’ve had a leg amputated. While you sleep horizontally, all of your fluids, organs and bones relax to their full extent. This is also why you’re at your tallest when you first wake up! So sitting up quickly and letting your legs hang will encourage quick swelling, which can make it hard to put your prosthetic on and get it to feel comfortable. Get in the habit of putting it on while you’re still horizontal, so it’s the truest best fit for your limb. This may not be necessary forever, but at least while you’re adjusting to your prosthetic, this will help a lot.
Sleeping with a Pillow
If you’ve had an above-the-knee amputation, avoid sleeping with a pillow between your legs. This may feel comfortable, but it can cause your inner thigh muscle to lengthen and your outer thigh muscle to shorten. Over time, this will affect the way your limb lays while you’re standing, which can cause you a good bit of pain. A hip flexion contracture is another possible result of sleeping with a pillow between your legs. This will make it so that you can’t completely straighten your hip, which will cause a lot of discomfort in your everyday life.
Your physical therapist should give you plenty of stretches to work on, and you should do these daily. Most importantly, you should be doing stretches that ensure you can straighten your hip and leg every morning. This will make everything in your life—walking, sitting, and lying down or sleeping—much easier and much more comfortable.
Learning to live with a prosthetic limb is a lifelong process, and every person’s experience will be different. Exercising these tips will make the transition into amputee life much more comfortable for you now and in the long run!
For more information, advice, and professional prosthetic services, contact Biotech today!