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How To Sleep Comfortably With A Broken Ankle

How To Sleep Comfortably With A Broken Ankle

If you hadn't figured it out already, I broke my ankle about a month ago. It seems like forever ago and also within the last week. Sitting on the sofa has a way of warping time. I'm working from home, but it's still work, I just have fewer interesting conversations around work topics. Oh, how I miss talking to people.

Anyway, within about a day of getting home I searched for advice on how to sleep comfortably with a broken ankle, and was surprised to find that there isn't any proper answers. It surprised me because I can't be the first with a nasty break to find it difficult to get comfortable. People asking this question on forums seem to get loads of people going"I never had a problem" or "just fall asleep, it isn't hard" which just serves to remind you how many dicks there's are on the internet outside of porn.

Fact is, a back slab or a cast can be very uncomfortable, and depending on ho bad abreak it is or if you've had surgery, you might be very restricted as to how you can lie down. Personally, I only felt safe and sort of comfortable when lying on my back with my leg also facing up. No fancy tilt to the side for me, nope. Throw in the fact that you'll have to keep your foot elevated to reduce swelling and suddenly you're contorting your achy, broken body into a very unfamiliar position.

Anyway, here I am explaining away the discomfort and pain you're already dealing with. Let's get to the advice, shall we?

Use Firm Cushions

My first few nights in bed, I couldn't figure out why I found the sofa more comfortable than my bed. Until I started to think about what I was using to prop myself up with. Bedding is a lot softer than sofa cushions or throw pillows - they serve different purposes. Use firmer cushions from a sofa or a pile of clothes stuffed into a bag to get a good base for the shape of the bed you want, then use softer pillows and bedding to make it comfortable.

Your Body As a 'V'

Now you've gathered all your bed making supplies, the shape you want to aim for is this - 

Image and product from here

Image and product from here

The best image I could find was from a sleeping aid company, but that just means they know their stuff. You'll likely want your broken leg a little higher, but the way she's lying is what I've been using for the past month.My only aches have been in my neck because I haven't been able to find something suitable to support my head so it rolls to one side or the other.

This shape is what most hospital beds will give you as well. The shape lifts your broken limb and supports your back, which is super important, meaning you don't have issues with additional pain there as well.

Lift Both Legs

The other issue you're going to face is pains in the hip and knee of your broken ankle. This will partly be from lack of use, but it'll also be from the way you're lying. To minimise it, make sure there's a slight bend in your knee - don't keep your leg completely straight. And make sure your uninjured leg is also propped up. It doesn't have to be as high, but it will help kick your hips aligned and get rid of the desire to roll on your side.

Stop The Sideways Roll

At first glance that either makes all the sense in the world or means nothing. For those who don't know what I'm on about - when you lie down and relax your body, your legs will will probably want to turn outwards from the hip. Putting your foot at a up to 45 degree angle when you look from above. Early on in your recovery, this can either be uncomfortable or just makes you feel anxious. Use a pillow on the outer side of your leg to keep it straight with another on the inner part of your leg if you want no movement. I didn't do this, but then again I was in a heavy backslab that just stayed where I put it most of the time.

Those are my main pieces of advice for you, but I've got some warnings too. If you haven't had any of the following, you may be lucky and I hate you. Or you just haven't got to that stage yet.

  • Blood Pressure Pain - when you first get up in the morning, prepare for a throbbing pain in your leg as the blood pressure returns to a normal level. You've keep this pressure down all night with elevation and the return of normal pressure will bring this sensation. It will pass, just breathe through it.
  • Sore Hands - I got used to my crutches reasonably quickly without too much pain, even if I do get super tired using them. However, every morning when I first start using them, the palms of my hands ache. Not a lot, but enough to make the first few hops of the day an uncomfortable struggle.
  • Twitching - because you're resting up and are physically restricted, you're not moving much. Your body will probably handle this ok, but you might find an increase in hypnic jerks. Those are when you're asleep, or close to sleep, and then your whole body twitches and suddenly you're aware. This may not be true for everyone, but it's my body's way of saying it's got too much energy, other people have told me they experienced restless leg syndrome.
  • Trouble Sleeping - moving less and expending less energy will mean sleep gets difficult. I'm a great sleeper, I basically never have trouble sleeping, and I've found a good night's kip difficult. I've had some really bad nights, usually followed by a night where I skip off to dreamland super easy. Try to avoid napping in the day to ensure you're tired at night. Also accept you might need an hour or two less at night, even if that's alien to you.

Do you have any helpful advice for sleeping with a broken leg? I'd love some extra help getting in those Zs.


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