How To Sleep After Gallbladder Surgery: Tips You Should Know In 2024

how to sleep after gallbladder surgery

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how to sleep after gallbladder surgery
After surgery, proper care ensures a smooth healing process. Photo: Nutlegal Photographer/Shutterstock

Recovering from gallbladder surgery[1], whether it’s laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, open gallbladder removal, or any other invasive procedure, requires proper care and attention to ensure a smooth healing process. Sleep plays a crucial role in the recovery after surgery, but it can be challenging due to post-surgery discomfort, pain medication, and changes in sleeping patterns. Finding a comfortable sleeping position, supporting your abdomen beneath the surgical wounds, and keeping your head elevated can help alleviate unnecessary pressure and promote a good night’s sleep. Creating a calm sleeping environment, using essential oils, and following your doctor’s advice on pain-relieving medications are essential for restful sleep. Additionally, adjusting your diet to include light meals that avoid fatty meats and processed foods aids digestion and encourages good digestion. This article will discuss effective strategies and practical tips to help you sleep better and support the healing process after gallbladder surgery.

Best Way To Sleep After Gallbladder Surgery

Gallbladder surgery[2], whether it’s laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, open gallbladder removal, or any other particularly invasive procedure, can have an impact on your sleeping patterns and quality of sleep. The procedure entails the surgical removal of the gallbladder, a small pear-shaped organ in the abdominal cavity that aids digestion. After surgery, ensuring a good night’s sleep becomes crucial for a smooth recovery process. Sleeping after gallbladder surgery can be challenging, especially for stomach or side sleepers, due to discomfort and the need to avoid unnecessary pressure on the surgical wounds. This article will explore effective strategies and essential tips to help you sleep better after surgery, ensuring sufficient rest and supporting your overall recovery process.

  • Create A Comfortable Sleeping Environment
  • Follow The Doctor’s Advice
  • Establish A Consistent Sleep Routine
  • Manage Digestive Upset
  • Address Anxiety Or Stress
  • Support Your Body
  • Be Patient With Sleep Patterns

How To Sleep After Gallbladder Surgery

how to sleep after gallbladder surgery
There are ways to sleep after gallbladder surgery you should follow. Photo: Akkalak Aiempradit/Shutterstock

Create A Comfortable Sleeping Environment

  • Ensure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Use supportive pillows or an adjustable bed base to find a position that reduces discomfort.
  • Consider using an eye mask or earplugs[3] to block out any disturbances.

Follow The Doctor’s Advice

  • Adhere to the post-surgery guidelines provided by your doctor.
  • Take any prescribed pain medication, including pain-relieving medications, as directed to manage discomfort.
  • Follow any dietary restrictions or recommendations, such as avoiding fatty meats or heavy meals, to aid healing and digestion. 

Establish A Consistent Sleep Routine

  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or using essential oils, before bedtime to promote better sleep.

Manage Digestive Upset

  • Eat light, easily digestible meals to avoid digestive upset.
  • Consider incorporating foods rich in fatty acids to aid digestion. Stay hydrated throughout the day, but avoid excessive fluid intake close to bedtime.

Address Anxiety Or Stress

  • If you experience anxiety or stress related to the surgery, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor.
  • Engage in stress-reducing activities before bedtime, such as reading a book or practicing other relaxation techniques.

Support Your Body

  • Use extra pillows or cushions to provide ample support to your abdomen while sleeping.
  • Elevate your head slightly using a pillow to alleviate any discomfort or encourage good digestion.

Be Patient With Sleep Patterns

  • Understand that it may take time for your sleep patterns to normalize after gallbladder surgery.
  • If you experience persistent trouble sleeping, consult your doctor for further guidance and to ensure proper recovery.

Remember, each individual’s recovery process may vary, so it’s important to consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice and address any specific concerns or questions about sleeping after gallbladder surgery.

How Does Gallbladder Removal Surgery Affect Sleep?

how to sleep after gallbladder surgery
Tips to manage the impact of gallbladder removal surgery on sleep. Photo: Burdun Iliya/Shutterstock


After gallbladder removal surgery, individuals may experience discomfort and pain around the surgical site. This discomfort can make finding a comfortable position challenging, leading to disrupted sleep.

Changes In Sleeping Patterns

The recovery period following gallbladder removal surgery can cause changes in sleeping patterns. Factors such as pain medication, the healing process, and post-surgery adjustments can affect the sleep-wake cycle, leading to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing fragmented sleep.

Digestive Upset

The gallbladder plays a crucial role in the digestion of fatty foods by storing and releasing bile. Without a gallbladder, the digestive system undergoes changes, and individuals may experience digestive upset after the surgery. Symptoms like diarrhea or indigestion can disrupt sleep.

Medication Side Effects

Pain relievers and other medications prescribed during recovery can have side effects that impact sleep. Common side effects of pain medication include drowsiness, dizziness, or alterations in sleep patterns. Managing these side effects is important and should be discussed with healthcare providers.

Anxiety Or Stress

Undergoing surgery can lead to anxiety or stress, which can affect sleep. Pre-surgery anticipation, post-surgical recovery, or concerns about the outcome can contribute to difficulty falling or staying asleep.

To manage the impact of gallbladder removal surgery on sleep, it is important to follow healthcare providers’ instructions, take prescribed pain medication as directed, create a comfortable sleeping environment, establish a consistent sleep routine, practice relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety, and communicate any sleep-related concerns with healthcare providers. fic concerns or questions about sleeping after gallbladder surgery.

What Does Gallbladder Surgery Entail?

Gallbladder surgery[4], specifically gallbladder removal surgery, also known as cholecystectomy, is a common procedure performed to treat various gallbladder-related conditions:

  • Surgical Procedure: Gallbladder surgery involves the removal of the gallbladder, a small pear-shaped organ located in the abdomen beneath the liver. It can be performed using different techniques, including laparoscopic gallbladder surgery (minimally invasive) or open gallbladder surgery (conventional treatment).
  • General Anesthesia: The surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia, ensuring you are unconscious and pain-free. An anesthesiologist or a certified nurse anesthetist administers the anesthesia.
  • Insertion of Surgical Tools: During laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, several small incisions are made in the abdomen, through which surgical tools and a laparoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a camera) are inserted. The surgeon performs the procedure while watching a video monitor displaying the images the laparoscope captured.
  • Gallbladder Removal: The surgeon carefully detaches the gallbladder from the liver and surrounding structures, ensuring the bile ducts are not damaged. In some cases, if complications or extensive removal are necessary, the surgeon may need to perform an open gallbladder surgery, which involves a larger incision.
  • Recovery Process: After removing the gallbladder, the incisions are closed with stitches or surgical tape. You will be moved to a recovery area where medical staff will monitor your vital signs and ensure proper healing.
  • Pain Relief and Medications: Pain medication, including pain relievers, may be prescribed to manage post-surgery discomfort. Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding the timing and dosage of the medications.
  • Digestive System Adjustment: Without a gallbladder, the digestive system adjusts to the absence of a storage organ for bile. The liver continues to produce bile, which flows directly into the small intestine, aiding digestion.

It is important to note that every surgical procedure carries certain risks and potential complications. It’s crucial to discuss the details of gallbladder surgery, including potential risks, benefits, and recovery expectations, with your healthcare provider.

Recovering From Gallbladder Surgery

how to sleep after gallbladder surgery
After surgery, allowing sufficient time to recover is important. Photo: Photography/Shutterstock

Gallbladder surgery, or cholecystectomy, is a standard gallbladder removal procedure. After this surgery, allowing yourself sufficient time to recover and heal[5] is important. Here are some comprehensive points to consider when recovering from gallbladder surgery:

Follow The Doctor’s Instructions

  • Adhere to the post-surgery instructions provided by your doctor. These may include wound care, medication schedules, and activity restrictions.
  • Take any prescribed pain medications as directed to manage discomfort during the recovery process.

Take Sufficient Rest

  • Get plenty of rest and allow your body to heal. Listen to your body’s signals and avoid overexertion.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects or strenuous activities that could strain the surgical wounds.

Gradually Resume Normal Activities

  • Start by slowly reintroducing light activities into your daily routine, such as walking or light household chores.
  • As your doctor advises, gradually increase the intensity and duration of activities over time.

Follow A Healthy Diet

  • Stick to a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
  • Avoid fatty or greasy foods, as they can cause digestive upset in the absence of a gallbladder.

Manage Digestive Upset

  • It is common to experience changes in digestion after gallbladder surgery. To ease digestive discomfort, eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than large, heavy meals.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day.

Care For Surgical Wounds

  • Keep the surgical wounds clean and dry as instructed by your healthcare provider.
  • Monitor the incision sites for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge, and notify your doctor if you notice any concerning symptoms.

Attend Follow-Up Appointments

Keep all scheduled follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your progress and address any concerns or complications that may arise.

Recovery time varies for each individual, but most people can resume their normal activities within a few weeks after surgery. It is essential to consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice and to address any specific concerns you may have during recovery.

When To See A Doctor

Knowing when to see a doctor after gallbladder surgery is crucial for proper post-operative care. Here are important guidelines to help you determine when medical attention is necessary:

  • Worsening Pain: If you experience worsening pain not adequately relieved by prescribed pain medication, it is important to consult your doctor.
  • Infection Signs: Pay attention to signs of infection around the surgical incisions, such as increased redness, swelling, warmth, or discharge. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical help.
  • High Fever: If you develop a high fever, defined as a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C), it could indicate an infection or other complications. Contact your doctor promptly.
  • Uncontrolled Nausea or Vomiting: If you experience persistent nausea or uncontrollable vomiting that prevents you from keeping fluids down, it is important to seek medical evaluation.
  • Jaundice: If you observe a yellowing of your skin or eyes, known as jaundice, it could be a sign of bile duct problems. Contact your doctor immediately if this occurs.

Remember, it is always better to avoid caution and consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns or questions about your recovery.


In conclusion, sleeping after gallbladder surgery can be affected by various factors such as pain, discomfort, changes in sleeping positions, and the recovery process itself. Prioritizing sufficient rest, following your doctor’s advice, managing pain with prescribed medication, and creating a comfortable sleeping environment are important. By taking these steps and being patient with your body’s healing process, you can improve your sleep quality and aid in a smoother recovery after surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to recover from gallbladder surgery?

Recovery time varies, but most people can resume normal activities within a few weeks after surgery.

Can I sleep on my stomach or side after gallbladder surgery?

It’s generally recommended to avoid sleeping on your stomach or side immediately after surgery. It’s best to sleep on your back or in a semi-elevated position to minimize strain on the surgical wounds.

Will I need pain medication to sleep comfortably?

Pain medication can help manage discomfort and promote better sleep during recovery. Follow your doctor’s instructions and take pain relievers as prescribed.

Can I sleep on my left side after gallbladder removal?

Sleeping on your left side is generally safe after gallbladder surgery, but it’s best to consult your doctor for personalized advice based on your specific case.

How can I fall asleep easier after gallbladder surgery?

Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine, creating a comfortable sleep environment, practicing relaxation techniques, and taking pain medication as needed can help promote better sleep after gallbladder surgery.

Should I be concerned about blood clots during sleep after surgery?

Blood clots are a potential risk after surgery. It’s important to move around periodically during the day, follow your doctor’s instructions regarding activity restrictions, and notify them if you experience any blood clot symptoms.

Can I sleep with an eye mask after gallbladder surgery?

Using an eye mask can help create a dark and calming environment, promoting better sleep. However, consult your doctor to ensure it doesn’t interfere with post-surgery instructions or wound care.

When should I contact my doctor regarding sleep issues after surgery?

If you experience persistent difficulty sleeping, excessive fatigue, or other concerning sleep-related issues, it’s advisable to consult with your doctor to rule out any underlying complications or provide appropriate guidance.
Please note that these answers are general and may vary based on individual circumstances. It’s important to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and recommendations after gallbladder surgery.

+ 5 Sources

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  1. Song J, Chen J, Lin C. Therapeutic Effect of Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy on Patients with Cholecystolithiasis Complicated with Chronic Cholecystitis and Postoperative Quality of Life. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2022;2022:e6813756. doi:
  2. Argiriov Y, Dani M, Tsironis C, Koizia LJ. Cholecystectomy for Complicated Gallbladder and Common Biliary Duct Stones: Current Surgical Management. Frontiers in Surgery. 2020;7. doi:
  3. Sugrue M, Coccolini F, Bucholc M, Johnston A. Intra-operative gallbladder scoring predicts conversion of laparoscopic to open cholecystectomy: a WSES prospective collaborative study. World Journal of Emergency Surgery. 2019;14(1). doi:
  4. Abi El Cheikh T, Vargas IM, Alili E, Tiesenga F. The Improvement of Nonspecific Chronic Symptoms Post-Gallbladder Clip Removal. Cureus. Published online October 24, 2022. doi:
  5. Leong RW, Davies LJ, Fook‐Chong S, Ng SY, Lee YL. Effect of the use of earplugs and eye masks on the quality of sleep after major abdominal surgery: a randomised controlled trial. Anaesthesia. Published online April 21, 2021. doi:


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