Trying to fall asleep with broken ribs is difficult. Besides the pain and discomfort that comes with it, sleeping in certain positions might cause further sleep deprivation. It is best to be comfortable and take appropriate health measures when sleeping with broken ribs.
The best ways of sleeping with broken ribs include on your side, elevated back, or sleeping upright. Also, taking pain medications, reducing movement, applying cold therapy, or sleeping on the propped broken side helps.
Still, even with these recommended guides, finding sleeping positions and remedies that suit your condition is crucial. For instance, sleeping on your back without proper care could exert pressure on your ribcage, worsening your sleeplessness.
This article guides you on the best ways to sleep with broken ribs, including how long it takes to heal. It also covers why broken ribs get more painful at night and ways to counter that for a restful sleep.
What Are Ribs, And What Do They Do?
Ribs are twelve pairs of the thin, curved bony framework of your thoracic cavity that protects your delicate thoracic organs. These organs include your chest cavity and the lungs.
What Causes Broken Ribs?
According to Mayo Clinic, the common cause of broken ribs is a direct impact or blunt trauma. Such include falls, fights, motorbike, and car accidents, impacts during sports, child abuse, and other physical actions.
Other causes include continuous trauma from sports such as golf and CPR and severe and extended coughing.
Factors that heighten your risk of breaking your ribs include playing contact sports like hockey or football. Others are cancerous lesions in the ribs and Osteoporosis.
How To Tell If You Have Broken Ribs
The most persistent symptom of broken ribs is registering chest pains, particularly when breathing in. Other symptoms include difficulty in breathing, feeling a crack in the rib area, or bruised skin.
Sadly, if not addressed, broken ribs could lead to extensive damage. Such include accidental penetration of your blood vessels, the lungs, lacerated kidneys, or the heart. We advise getting checked to prevent needing high-level immediate medical attention.
How Long Do Broken Ribs Take To Heal?
Broken ribs often heal by themselves within three to six weeks. Doctors advise taking pain medications, maintaining the proper posture, and resting to fasten the healing process. Visit a doctor if your broken ribs fail to get better within two months.
Why Broken Ribs Get More Painful At Night
When asleep, your bones do not contract the way they do when you awake. It is because your body releases the cell regeneration hormones to quicken the healing process.
In addition, you lose control over body movement during sleep. Therefore, you could feel more pain since you could injure the broken ribs as you move and turn in your sleep.
How To Sleep With Broken Ribs
While it may seem complex and sensitive, these will help you sleep better and healthier with broken ribs;
Sleep Sitting Upright
Sleeping in an upright position, especially in the first few days, can be challenging if you are not used to it. However, it is the best way to sleep with broken or cracked ribs since it avoids exerting unnecessary pressure. Also, it is difficult to get worse complications, leading to faster healing of the broken ribs.
We recommend getting items that offer contoured support, especially around your head, neck, and shoulders. Below are items in the market that are ideal for upright sleeping;
Doctors recommend using a recliner seat for sleeping in an upright position. It is ideal for sleeping with broken ribs since it is adjustable and offers maximum comfort and elevation. In addition, you can easily get in and out of it with little pain and bruising.
Use A Backrest Pillow With Arms
The last thing you want when sleeping in an upright position is discomfort, back pressure, or pain. A backrest pillow with arms provides contouring support to your back muscles while taking pressure off your lower back. It also ensures you are comfortable, breathe correctly, and have a restful night's sleep.
Use A Wedge Pillow
A wedge pillow elevates your upper body while keeping you comfortable during sleep. It allows you to breathe appropriately and reduce the chance of injury in your sleep. Also, their adjustability enables you to sleep in both an upright or slightly elevated position.
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Sleep On A Chaise Lounge Chair With Arms
A Chaise lounge chair with arms offers better comfort and less harm to patients with broken ribs than your bed. It is also adjustable and promotes proper blood pumping in an elevated sleeping position.
Sleep On A Slightly Elevated Back
Sleeping on a flat back is painful, thanks to the force stemming from your spine puts pressure on the ribcage. In addition, there is limited blood supply and difficulty breathing, leading to pain, stiffness, discomfort, and sleep deprivation.
However, we recommend having a slight elevation on your back for improved sleep. Such relieves pressure from your rib area. It also promotes uninterrupted blood supply and easy breathing, leading to better sleep.
In addition, maintaining a zero-gravity feature promotes comfort in an elevated position. Get an adjustable bed with the right firmness and support to avoid stiff joints during sleep. You could also get wedge pillows or pillows for back sleepers that ensure maximum comfort when sleeping with broken ribs.
Reduce Movement During Sleep
Apart from being painful, broken ribs are very sensitive. They could also lead to extensive damage to delicate organs like the lungs and heart. Also, it is almost impossible to control your body movements once you fall asleep. We advise limited movement during sleep to avoid worsening pain or affecting other organs.
To reduce movement during sleep, get supportive pillows and prop them to prevent you from moving or rolling over.
Use Pain Medication
Taking pain medication at least thirty minutes before sleep relieves pain, leading to improved sleep. Consult your doctor to prescribe ideal pain medication for broken ribs or reach for over-the-counter drugs if sure on medication. These include ibuprofen and naproxen.
Please note that pain medication could adversely affect your heart, liver, kidney, or blood pressure. You could also get sleep apnea which could worsen your sleeplessness. Ensure that you consult a doctor or physician to recommend prescriptions and dosages.
Apply Cold Therapy
Apply a pack of ice to the broken ribs before sleep to numb the pain and reduce swelling. Such will give you enough relief, comfort, and peace to fall asleep.
Try To Prop And Sleep On The Injured Side
While this might seem contradictory, some patients express pain relief when sleeping on the injured side of the ribs. This position keeps the ribs intact, hence promoting comfort and sleep. If you have tried all the above remedies without improvement, try sleeping on the side of the broken ribs.
However, it is best to prop yourself for support and comfort beforehand. Ensure you have the right level of firmness, softness, and comfort. Also, get pillows to prop your head, hips, and sides for added comfort and reduced motion. Still, stop if you experience any pain.
Practice Safe Coughing And Sneezing
Coughing or sneezing with broken ribs is complicated, painful, and unavoidable. It can also lead to worse effects like lung infections or lung collapse. Due to this, we advise soft wedging on your rib cage while coughing.
Therefore, we advise folding a soft blanket to form a pillow near you while sleeping. Wedge the soft blanket around your rib cage every time you want to cough for safety and pain relief.
Sleeping with broken ribs can be uncomfortable, painful, and frightening. However, you sleep better once you learn tips like sleeping in an upright position and applying cold therapy. However, visit your doctor if the discomfort and pain worsen after trying these remedies.
Feruza is a mom and a blogger. She had a neck pain for 15 years, which made her interested in everything about pillows.
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