Sleeping Better After Surgery – How To Overcome Sleeping Problems After Plastic Surgery

After undergoing a surgical operation, it is possible for an individual to experience sleeping problems such as insomnia and sleep apnea during the first few weeks of recovery. Notably, such conditions are attributed to certain causative agents that include: anaesthesia effect, healing related discomfort, daily routine changes and emotional stress. Hence, with sleep disorders it is difficult for an individual to heal after a surgery because sleep is essential in the repair, nurturing and regeneration of body tissues. Therefore, there is a looming need for individuals who have undergone a cosmetic surgery to get enough sleep because it is a necessity in quick healing. Here are some useful tips for how to sleep soundly after plastic surgery.

Take prescribed drugs half an hour before bedtime

Basically, it is important to take the prescribed medication as required so as to help quicken the recovery process. However, ensure that you take them half an hour before retiring to bed to avoid sleep related problems. Essentially, drugs administered include analgesics, sedatives and anaesthetics, which makes some individuals experience sleep disorientation and a feeling of discomfort. Additionally, some drugs have caffeine as an ingredient which can bring about sleep deprivation.

Avoid too much napping during the day

Balancing day activities with rest can help in ensuring quick recovery after a surgery. Ideally, sleep deficiencies during the night result from undertaking strenuous activities that the body cannot support shortly after undergoing surgery. Additionally, it is important to avoid napping too much during the day because it can impact negatively on quality night time sleep.

Avoid emotional stress

Mostly, sleep related problems are sometimes as a result of emotional stress that the individual has had over a certain period of time. Hence, after a plastic surgery, it is important to avoid stress and this goes along way with talking to a close friend, relative or a counselor. With this, the person will have a clear mind and can be able to sleep soundly. Additionally, such individuals can help the person overcome trauma that results from the surgery undertaking.

Get the right pillow

After a plastic surgery, the correct sleeping position as recommended by the surgeon is essential in quick recuperation. Hence, it is important for individuals who have recently gone through surgery to buy the right pillow pair that can be arranged well in a way that will help them sleep comfortably and to relax their muscle avoiding both muscle strain and neck pain. Additionally, they should avail the right mattresses that they can sleep comfortably on to avoid sleeping problems after surgery.

Avoid caffeinated foods and drinks

Notably, caffeine has a tendency of staying in one’s body for approximately six hours and usually bring about sleeping problems. Hence, a person recovering after undergoing a surgery should at all cost avoid taking caffeinated drinks and foods close to bedtime hours. Essentially, some of the foods and drinks that they should avoid are: coffee, colas, tea and chocolates because they can stimulate the body making them experience sleeping problems.

Listen to relaxing music, an audio book or radio programs

Basically, listening to soothing songs or audio books can help individuals recuperating after a plastic surgery to fall asleep. The music or the audio book has a tendency of causing physical changes in the body that can aid in ensuring a restful sleep. These physical changes include: the lowering of both the heart and respiratory rates. Alternatively, listening to some programs on clock radios can help such individual fall asleep with ease as soon as the radio goes off.

Adequate sleep preparation

Furthermore, it is possible to set the mind ready for sleep by lowering the overall light level in your house as sleep time draws near. With this, the body will react by producing hormones that can aid in falling and staying asleep. If the individual finds it hard to sleep after surgery, he/she should try as much as possible to ensure that the sleeping environment and positions are comfortable and that he/she stays calm and relaxed.

However, after a recuperating individual tries the above mentioned tips and still can’t find a perfect solution to his/her sleeping problems, the person should consider contacting a personal doctor for help. This applies when normal sleeping patterns fail to return two to three weeks after surgery. Sleep is essential in recovery after surgery and if one experience sleeping problems it is important to take proper corrective measures.

WHY IS SLEEP IMPORTANT FOR OUR APPEARANCE?

True sleep and rest are integral parts of a healthy lifestyle; only in sleep do our bodies truly heal and rejuvenate. During the bliss of slumber we are actively regenerating our tissues, normalising hormone levels, restoring depleted energy reserves, improving our mood and especially our appearance, enabling us to wake looking refreshed. There is nothing like the facial radiance that follows a night of nourishing sleep to draw the comment “You look so well, have you been on holidays?”

Experiencing disrupted sleep or altered sleep cycles has a profound effect on our mental, emotional and physical health, especially if the disturbance becomes prolonged over many years. In fact, it shortens our life expectancy!

Fortunately, if sleep problems affect you, there are natural solutions to help you rediscover the pleasure of slipping into deep and refreshing slumber – and making a habit of it as well!

How much sleep do we need? Why?

Evidence is now building for the idea that our brain’s workload determines how much deep sleep our brains need, perhaps even with harder-working areas showing different sleep states to those that had a more leisurely day. But there is another prominent group of theorists who refuse to accept that sleep is merely a time for rest and recuperation. They suggest the role of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is in information processing, categorising
and storing memories, or even thinking creatively.

The natural rhythms of our internal organs

The Chinese physicians charted the 24-hour daily clock and divided it into two-hour segments, each said to be the peak activity time for a particular organ and its energy meridian (see “Blooming”, Cooke 1999). How this affects sleep is that if you have an overworked or weakened organ your sleep may be disturbed at that particular time. For instance, gall bladder attacks are commonly noted to occur between 11pm and 1am, whilst a “grumpy liver” processing excessive toxins may keep you awake between 1am and 3am. Treating the particular organ indicated by the clock can restore healthy sleep patterns.

The causes of insomnia

Insomnia may have no apparent cause in about half of sufferers. It can be caused by pain, stress, anxiety, excitement, overeating before bed, caffeine, poor diet, lack of exercise, poor bedding or room temperature or ventilation. International travel and crossing time zones producing jet lag is a common cause of disturbed sleep rhythms in today’s life. Individuals with insomnia frequently attribute their sleep problems to work-related stress or job dissatisfaction and factors such as shift work.

How does insomnia affect our beauty?

shutterstock_117557779-300x200Inadequate or shallow sleep, waking unrefreshed, feeling overtired and exhausted, causes a drained, greyish complexion due to poor capillary blood supply to the facial tissues. Dehydration adds to the lack of plump skin tone which produces the look of health and wellness. Lack of exercise also causes poor complexion colour, due to the circulating dominance of deoxygenated blood, which has a brownish colour, unlike bright red oxygenated blood. Physical inactivity compounds poor sleep habits, further reducing skin colour and radiance.

Not having enough time overnight to carry out tissue repair leaves the skin deprived of essential nutrients for restoration work, leading to poor skin tone and elasticity (low protein metabolism). Delayed uptake of nutrients
with reduced hours of sleep and rest is more likely cause skin conditions such as dermatitis, acne and eczema to erupt, especially with vitamin, mineral and antioxidant depletion.

  • Anxiety states, excessive mental stimulation
  • Substance abuse—caffeine, alcohol, recreational drugs, long-term sedative use, stimulants; nicotine – quitting smoking can cause transient insomnia
  • Disruption of circadian rhythms—shift work; travel across time zones; visual loss
  • Menopause—insomnia affects 30% to 40% of menopausal women; may be due to hot flushes and night sweats, anxiety, and/or change in progesterone levels
  • Hormonal fluctuations in menstrual cycle—progesterone promotes sleep
  • Advanced age—the biological changes of aging, existence of underlying medical conditions, increased sensitivity to environmental factors, many interfere with sleep function, neurologic disorders that may cause confusion and disorientation, increased likelihood of depression, anxiety, and grief
  • Medical conditions—gastroesophageal reflux disease, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, heart disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obstructive sleep apnea
  • Psychiatric and neurologic disorders—anxiety neurosis, depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Environmental disturbances—noise disruption (e.g. snoring partners, noisy pets)
  • Excessive computer work, especially late at night
  • Delayed sleep phase
INTEGRATIVE TREATMENT STRATEGY FOR INSOMNIA

Natural approaches to treating insomnia are preferable for several reasons. Firstly, they will usually address the cause of the problem, rather than aim to simply alleviate the symptom; secondly they produce natural sleep, as opposed to the “coma” induced by hypnotic drugs; thirdly there are significant potential risks and side effects from the regular use of sedative drugs.

Pharmacologic agents, including over the counter (OTC) medications, such as antihistamines (such as diphenhydramine and doxylamine), benzodiazepines (such as temazepam)and novel non-benzodiazepine hypnotics (zolpidem), are recommended for no more than 4 weeks and should not be used more than 2 to 4 nights per week; long-term use increases the likelihood of both habituation and withdrawal symptoms (Attele et al. 2000; Wagner et al. 1998). Side effects include daytime drowsiness, worsened depression, ataxia, sleep walking, and addiction, nightmares or headaches. They are not to be used with alcohol.

Behavioural techniques, cognitive-behavioural therapies, and other mind/body techniques such as relaxation and biofeedback are the treatments of choice for chronic insomnia. 70% to 80% of patients with insomnia improve using non-pharmacologic approaches.

 

Yoga Nidra

This is a deep relaxation practice with instruction by the teacher (or use of a recorded voice) in progressive release of muscle tension throughout the body in a methodical process, producing profound mental and physical relaxation. Regular practice not only relieves insomnia but creates a more fluid state of physical being.

 

 

 

Regular exercise

Regular exercise, both aerobic and weight training, improves endorphin levels in the brain, promoting mental relaxation and releasing physical stress. Most people are able to do some form of regular exercise at any age. Depending upon agility and mobility exercise may range from gymnasium workouts and personal training to aquafitness (especially for those with joint problems or obesity) and simply walking, anywhere, anytime.

Sex

Sexual activity is an excellent release for many people, distracting thoughts from the day just passed, engaging intimately with one’s partner, increasing breathing rate and circulation, warming up and then cooling down after orgasm – there could not be a better formula for sleep preparation!

Massage – reflexology, aromatherapy, shiatsu, Swedish

 

To restore normal muscle and nervous system tone in states of stress or insomnia, what could be more logical or enjoyable than bodywork? In reflexology there are specific insomnia points on the soles of our feet. In shiatsu insomnia is thought to be caused by a congested or inflamed liver or a deficiency of chi in the heart meridian, a disturbance in the spirit due to an emotional shock or a trauma, or a generalized lack of chi in the body, all of which can be corrected with this type of massage.

The long languid strokes of Swedish massage alleviate muscle tension in general, warm the tissues and produce an endorphin effect, which causes a delightful euphoria for the recipient. A regular full body massage, paying particular attention to the back, neck and shoulders, encourages relaxation, relieves pain and tension and often breaks the cycle of insomnia.

Acupuncture and acupressure

Acupuncture and acupressure are probably the safest and most effective tools, in my clinical experience, for the immediate and lasting relief from insomnia. Clinical research clearly supports the use of these techniques to help resolve insomnia, with acupressure specifically having been studied in the elderly (Chen et al. 1999; Lin 1995).

Herbal remedies

Herbal remedies such as Valerian, Skullcap, Chamomile, Lemon balm, Hops, Passion flower and kava kava are effective for treatment of insomnia. The more sedating herbs can cause a “hangover” effect similar to hypnotic drugs, so should be dosed cautiously or prescribed by a herbalist or naturopath specifically for your purposes.

Valerian appears to improve quality of sleep and decrease sleep latency (Attele et al. 2000) and to improve delta sleep. A typical dose of valerian is anywhere from 150 to 450 mg/day of extract standardized to 0.8% of valerenic acid.

Short-term clinical studies suggest that kava kava is effective for insomnia (Attele et al. 2000; Wong et al. 1998). Kava and diazepam, in fact, induce similar EEG changes (Fugh-Berman and Cott 1999). Kava should not be used in conjunction with benzodiazepines as concurrent use with alprazolam has reportedly resulted in altered level of consciousness (Miller 1998).

Try sleeping with a hops or lavender pillow under your pillow.

Chinese herbal medicine is also extremely effective for releasing thinking processes to allow sleep to descend. The herb Zizyphus is invaluable for “calming the Shen”, or quietening the dominant mind.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy, primarily from clinical reports, is a helpful for approach for many with insomnia. The commonest remedies prescribed are Coffea cruda and Arnica montana, but there are many constitutional remedies which may be more suitable in certain individuals (prescribed specifically by a homoeopath).

Homoeopathic melatonin may be helpful for restoring natural melatonin levels in insomniacs affected by shift work or jet lag.

Bach Flower Remedies

Bach Flower Remedies can be very simple, safe and effective solutions for insomnia. White Chestnut is excellent for “switching off persistent rattling thoughts”, while Aspen and Mimulus are beneficial where there is a fear which is affecting sleep.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy – particular essential oils have sedating, soothing effects on the nervous system, reducing stress-related insomnia. Try lavender, marjoram, chamomile, ylang ylang and lemon balm, 3 drops of each in a very warm bath before bed is most beneficial. The raising of core body temperature which occurs with soaking in a hot bath itself works to induce sleep in the cooling down phase afterwards.

Affirmation

If your insomnia is caused by being stressed or worried an affirmation repeated regularly throughout each day may improve your situation. A suggested affirmation is “I sleep soundly knowing my life is unfolding in the best possible way for me”.

 

  • Referral to a sleep specialist is recommended if insomnia persists or if obstructive sleep apnea is suspected, to assess causes of sleep disturbances and to develop a treatment regimen.
  • Regular exercise prior to dinner time; exercise too close to bedtime can stimulate arousal
  • Avoid caffeine (especially after noon) and nicotine; smoking cessation may cause short-term insomnia but will diminish likelihood of long-term sleeping disturbances
  • Exposure to late afternoon sun, which stimulates release of endogenous melatonin; melatonin does not induce sleep but it does help regulate the circadian rhythm
  • Practice of stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep relaxation

 

Good sleep hygiene is a necessary tool for treating insomnia regardless of its cause, particularly in combination with other therapies. Practices include:

  • Limiting the use of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
  • Maintaining consistent bedtimes and wake-times, including on weekends and holidays
  • Establishing the bedroom as a place for sleep and sexual activity only, not reading, watching television, working, or other activities
  • Avoiding naps, particularly in the evening
  • Exercising regularly, which can help regulate circadian rhythms; should be performed prior to dinner; exercising too close to bedtime may worsen insomnia
  • Getting regular exposure to late afternoon, outdoor sunlight – dusk promotes production of melatonin by the pineal gland, which helps regulate normal circadian patterns
  • Taking a hot bath 1 and one-half to 2 hours prior to bed; this affects core temperature and may induce sleep
  • Keeping the bedroom cool, well-ventilated, quiet and dark
  • Avoiding looking at the clock, especially the digital variety, which promotes anxiety and obsession about time and often unconsciously programs waking
  • Avoiding drinking fluids prior to bed to avoid toilet trips during the night
  • Avoiding watching television or using a computer just prior to bedtime as the screens emit bright light

 

Nutrition and Dietary Supplements

Natural Medicine
Maintaining normal blood sugar during the night may be helpful in preventing wakefulness. Meals rich in carbohydrates and moderate-to-low in protein and fat are assumed to promote serotonin and melatonin synthesis, and thereby to promote sleep. Try a protein supper just before bed, especially if you have had an early dinner, such as a handful of almonds, a fruit and yoghurt/tofu dessert or a boiled egg on a crispbread.

L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

L-tryptophan is thought to function by raising serotonin levels, which in turn induces sleep (Attele et al. 2000; Cauffield and Forbes 1999). According to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain pharmacopeia, 1 g of L-tryptophan can decrease sleep latency by enhancing subjective sensations of sleepiness and by reducing waking time (Attele et al. 2000).

Caution is advised in prescribing L-tryptophan due to the possibility of adverse reactions leading to “serotonin syndrome” when used concomitantly with monoamine oxidase inhibitors and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).

Melatonin

Melatonin appears to be most useful for inducing sleep in particular people, such as those with disrupted circadian rhythm (e.g., jet lag, night shift work, poor vision) (Skene et al. 1999; Wagner 1999) and in persons with schizophrenia who tend to have low levels of melatonin (Shamir et al. 2000).

Generally, 1 to 3 mg of melatonin is recommended for sleep; but as little as 0.3 mg has been used successfully.

Additional Considerations

Complications/Sequelae

  • Night shift workers are at higher risk for motor vehicle accidents; 53% of night workers fall asleep on the job at least 1 night per week.
  • Elderly patients need special attention when being treated for insomnia. Pain medication, for example, needs to be adequate to permit good sleep. However, avoiding oversedation is important. This population is more susceptible to side effects of medications and suffer from falls as well as car accidents. Medications are frequently overprescribed in nursing homes.
  • Alcohol should be avoided with prescription or OTC hypnotics. In fact alcohol is not a safe remedy for insomnia due to its addictive potential and risk of side effects of regular and long term use, especially social problems.
  • Rapid withdrawal of OTC or prescription sedatives can lead to rebound insomnia.
  • Benzodiazepines can cause oversedation, particularly if used for substance abuse or sleep apnea patients.

Pregnancy

  • Insomnia usually occurs in the later months of pregnancy when the mother’s size and need to urinate disrupt sleep
  • Benzodiazepines should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation; use during first trimester may increase risk of development of cleft lip in newborn.

 

So tonight…

Write a list – if you worry and find you have thoughts rattling around inside your head while you are trying to get to sleep, try writing them down in a journal. It may be your “to do list” for tomorrow or it might be a creative downloading process. You can also tell your troubles to a “trouble doll” that the Guatemalan Indians favour, to mind their worries overnight until they can be addressed after waking.sweet-dreams

Create a restful environment in your bedroom – no TV or computer, soft lighting (preferably the golden glow of candlelight), soft colours for your furnishings, light ventilation, fresh comfortable bedding and clothing (if you wear any) and silence or soothing music.

Have a warm drink – a warm spicy chai with honey, a chamomile tea, or a herbal tea blend for insomnia from your herbal teahouse.

Have a light supper if you tend to wake hungry during the night, or you have had dinner several hours earlier.

Say an affirmation – “All is well in my world” , “I enjoy deep and replenishing sleep tonight and every night”.

Sweet dreams!

 

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Brenda Panin is a yoga instructor and a mother of two beautiful girls interested in anything related to health and alternative medicine. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family. Recently she has done some research about sleep apnea and ways to get a good night sleep. For her proper nutrition and training is a way of life.

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