5 tips on How to sleep with a subluxated rib

how-to-sleep-with-a-subluxated-rib
How to Sleep With a Subluxated Rib

A dislocated rib is no fun; sleeping with a subluxated rib, fractured rib, etc., is something I wouldn’t wish to anyone, even to my worst enemies! The thought of how to sleep with a subluxated rib becomes one of the most painful thoughts, especially during bedtime. Bedtime is one of the scariest parts most people with broken ribs have survived, especially when they cannot sleep comfortably in their normal bedtime sleeping position.

It’s a battle, sleeping through the night, even with a rib brace on, because adjusting to a new position while in bed may cause more pain and eventually disrupt your standard sleep patterns.

Fortunately, with modern sleep aids and pain medication, and home care, you can get better sleep during your recovery period.

However, before you know the best sleep positions for a subluxated rib, it’s also essential to understand what happens to your broken, dislocated, or subluxated ribs.

I highly recommend reading up on:
1. What is a rib subluxation
2. How painful is a broken rib
3. 20 + FAQs About Rib Injuries

How to sleep with a subluxated rib – and other rib injuries

The sitting up position


As odd as this position may sound, it is one of the best sleeping positions for dislocated ribs. This position will make it on every doctors’ list of how to sleep with a subluxated rib.

Sitting up is also one of the best ways to sleep with rib injury or for example, recovering from a rib fracture or other rib injuries because it keeps your body posture upright.

This position is also one of the best positions that will accelerate the healing process of any injured ribs because lying on your back or your side puts excessive pressure on the chest and spine area. The Sitting up sleep position is perfect and will keep your chest and rib cage area straight. It can also help you get up from bed or sofa more comfortably.

Alone, the sitting up position for subluxated rib is sufficient, but the addition of comfy, structured support pillows tucked under your head and your arms will enable you to have an almost comfortable sleep. This is one of the best way to sleep with broken ribs too.

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The almighty backrest pillow

When in pain from an injured rib, nothing compares to having soft yet firm support for your back and arms while sleeping or resting in a sitting position.

Backrest pillows, also known as reading pillows, are an excellent choice for keeping a comfortable balance at night, making sure your back and chest stay straight, aiding you to breathe normally, and easing up on the pain in case you cough or, God forbid, sneeze.
The reading pillow can also support your arms and make them in a relaxed state.

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A wedge pillow


Similar to backrest pillows, wedge pillows can keep you elevated and upright while you sleep.

Wedge pillows are usually used after major surgery because they help reduce swelling and aid the general healing process.

One of the advantages of a wedge-shaped pillow is that it can help you sit up completely or raise your angle slightly when you lie down so that your shoulders and head are at a 30-degree angle.

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A Chaise lounge

Since sleeping on an elevated surface is suitable for rib injuries, choosing a chaise lounge to sleep with a rib fracture is ideal.

Some may think that the chaise lounge is out of fashion, but it isn’t. in fact, the Chaise lounge chair was highly recommended when we carried out a questionnaire on how to sleep with a subluxated rib last year, during the COVID-19 rampage.

The chaise lounge has armrests, and adjustable positions are varying angles, which is a luxury that a flat mattress does not have.

It is more convenient to lie down with the body in a slightly raised position because it helps your heart pump blood effectively.

Make sure that the lounge chair you choose has armrests that are not too thin. Otherwise, it will not provide the support you need, and you may even fall off the chair.

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Recliner Chairs


No list on how to sleep with a subluxated rib will be complete without recliner chairs.

Many doctors recommend them since it’s the ideal choice for sitting up and sleeping while providing you with the perfect inclination and comfort.

One of the best things about sleeping on a recliner is that you can use the zero-gravity option to adjust your back at any time, moving your head and back as needed. A recliner that can be bent forwards and backward will allow the convenience of getting in and out of the chair in the morning more easily.

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Other Tips on How to Sleep with a Subluxated Rib

Sleep on your back but only with support


We are all humans, and sleeping in a single position is something we are not wired to do, even with a rib injury such as rib dislocations.
Although it’s neither ideal nor recommended to sleep on your back while recovering from a rib fracture, sleeping on your back using support, making sure you’re inclined a little, can keep the blood supply uninterrupted and help you sleep better at night.

However, remember, If you sleep on your back for a long duration, you may feel stiffness and soreness when you wake up, especially in the morning.

Sleeping with a wedge pillow in a slightly elevated position will help support your upper back and will not allow blood to accumulate in the fractured area because your heart will be above your legs.
In addition, wedge pillows also provide other sleep benefits that can help you sleep better.

Use a nursing pillow when sneezing


Sneezing without inflicting more pain to the already subluxated ribs is a difficult task. Sneezing is one of the many normal-daily-reflex that has turned painful that patients with a rib injury will face. A good solution is to use a soft nursing pillow to support your chest as a barrier to absorb strength.

Nursing pillows are most useful when coughing or sneezing. It can also provide some support when you try to stand up with a broken rib. At night, you can hang it around your neck to support your spine while you sleep.

Avoid sleeping on your side


Under normal circumstances, sleeping on the side is a reasonably harmless sleeping position. But when recovering from a rib injury, the harms outweigh the benefits. When you sleep on your side, with broken ribs or bruises on your ribs, you may put pressure on your chest, which may eventually further damage the damaged area.

Have more quality Sleep


Go to bed as early as possible.

Do not eat heavy meals or drink alcohol or caffeine before going to bed. Remember, your goal is to recover quickly because rib pain is unbearable and can cause breathing difficulties. Give yourself at least 8 hours of good quality sleep and some naps during the day.

There is no doubt that sleep is an essential part of rehabilitation. Rib fractures are shocking for the whole body. Sleep and adequate rest can relieve nerves and muscles. It provides excellent strength to damaged tissues to rebuild and repair the injured ribs.

Sleep is not only crucial for restoring bone strength. It can also help you cope with the stress of immobility and other physical difficulties. By getting undisturbed, quality sleep, our body and mind will be relieved from inflammatory pain and the emotional stress associated with rib fractures.

Practice deep breathing


During the recovery of rib dislocation or any rib injury, though excruciatingly painful, a great tip on how to sleep with a subluxated rib is to try and cough or take deep breathes at one to two hours intervals. Deep breathing exercises can help prevent collapsed lungs or developing secondary infections such as pneumonia.

The general rule is to take a slow but deep breath to fill your lungs every two hours, or according to the recommended practice and intervals are given by your doctor.

Continue to breathe deeply and exhale slowly for the next few minutes. After 2-3 minutes, cough a few times gently and without much force, and then take a deep breath. This exercise is excellent at helping your injured ribs heal quicker and improving your sleep quality as the recovery takes place.

This routine will be painful for most.

Consult your doctor for some painkillers to reduce the pain.
Keeping the pillow close to the fractured rib can also alleviate the pain of these deep breathing exercises.

Limit your movements while sleeping


Unless you have a sleeping disorder, the average person moves 10-30 times per hour during sleep.

After a rib injury, try to sleep upright and limit turning, twisting, coughing, and stretching movements in the first few days.
This may sound easy, but these movements happen naturally in our daily routines, and extra awareness should be taken to use caution, especially since it is easy to forget while sleeping.

However, keep in mind that the ribs are directly connected to many upper parts of the body. Any excessive, uncontrolled, and exaggerated movements will increase your overall aches and agony.

Also, keep an extra pillow, as you may need to lean it against your ribs when you cough. In addition, do not use rib wraps or braces to restrict movement, as this will only increase the chance of lung collapse and other secondary respiratory infections.

Try painkillers and over-the-counter pain medications


People with broken ribs are advised to take prescription medications about 30 minutes before going to bed, which helps control pain.

However, some painkillers may keep you awake at night and eventually cause sleep apnea. Opioids such as codeine and morphine may make breathing difficult and disrupt your sleep cycle.

If you do not have a pain medication prescription, you can take over-the-counter pain medicine, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen.

However, please consult your doctor for specific dosage recommendations. Patients suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney and liver diseases, etc., must consult a doctor to ensure safe consumption of these drugs.

Hopefully, this article will help you understand how to sleep with a subluxated rib.

Please let others know what worked for you down by the comment section, happy recovery!