Most Americans have to go through wisdom teeth removal surgery. Sleep is an important part of healing but often sleep is hard right after surgery. Here are some tips on how you get some sleep after wisdom teeth removal surgery.

Why Is Sleep Important After Surgery?

good night sleep

Did you know that most of your body repairs and recovery happen while you sleep? During the deep phase of sleep, your body gets to work to repair itself. It’s when you’re asleep that the body signals tissues to regenerate.

It’s also during this deep sleep that white blood cells are released into your bloodstream that boosts your immune system. This helps to fight off bacteria and can help prevent an infection at the site of your surgery. If you were to get an infection, then your healing time would greatly increase. You’ll want to add extra sleep to your normal requirements to provide enough energy for your body to heal.

Use the Right Tools to Help You Sleep

Before your surgery, plan ahead and purchase the tools you’ll need to get the best sleep after wisdom teeth removal surgery. You’ll also want a few extra pillows to help prop you up those first few days.

Another consideration to think about is getting some sort of pillow protectors. Many people will drool and bleed the first few days, which will get on your pillows.

Important Post-Op Steps

The dentist’s office will send you home with steps to take to help you during your recovery period. It’s important to follow these steps to decrease your healing time and ensure you can get your sleep after wisdom teeth removal surgery.

Take Care of the Wound

It’s important to take care of the surgery site to speed the healing process. You’ll want to rinse the area with salt water periodically and use gauze to absorb excess blood. Make sure you don’t spit the salt water or blood out. Rather, lean your head over the sink and let it fall out.

Avoid Dry Socket

Dry socket is a painful complication of oral surgery in which the blood clot over the wound dislodges. This leaves the hole in the bone open to air, food, and water and is extremely painful. For many, it’s painful enough that it will interfere with your ability to sleep. Here are some steps you can take to avoid dry socket:

  • Don’t brush your teeth for 24 hours after surgery
  • Don’t drink from a straw or spit
  • Keep your tongue away from the wound site
  • Change the gauze packing frequently until the bleeding has completely stopped
  • Make sure you gently gargle salt water to ensure you don’t dislodge the blood clot
  • Drink only water. Water will not only help with flushing out bacteria from your mouth and aid in the healing process but carbonated drinks and acidic juices can actually further irritate the area.

Elevate Your Head

You’ll want to elevate your head at a 45-degree angle for the first 36 hours after your surgery. You’ll want to keep this position even while you sleep. When you’re lying flat, your body will increase blood volume around your surgery spot. This will cause you to feel throbbing and will also lead to more bleeding, which will increase your healing time. Keeping your head elevated will also help to reduce the swelling.

Manage Your Pain

manage your pain

Most oral surgeons will prescribe a narcotic pain medication to keep your pain levels low. If not, you can try over the counter medications to alleviate pain such as ibuprofen. Make sure you stay on top of your pain medication to ensure pain isn’t keeping you from sleeping.

Your pain levels will typically peak around 6-10 hours after your surgery. Be aware of this time so you can be on top of your pain before it gets worse. Even if you aren’t feeling pain, take your pain medication on time to make sure it doesn’t wear off and prevent you from sleeping.

Use Ice Packs

Ice packs provide comfort and reduce swelling. Before you get ready to go to sleep, prepare your ice packs and place them over your cheeks where the surgery was performed. Keep the ice packs there for about 30 minutes prior to sleeping to reduce your pain.

These packs are also an important tool to reduce swelling in your gums and face. The more swelling you experience, the higher your pain will be and the harder it will be to sleep. You can also drink your water ice cold to help with your pain level.

Massage Your Masseter Muscle

During surgery, your mouth is open for a few hours. This can cause sore and cramped muscles and lead to pain. Since one of the main goals is to reduce your pain level to help you sleep, massage is a good choice to alleviate tension in this area.

Your masseter muscle is located directly in front of your ear opening. You can gently massage this area with your fingers for a few minutes at a time.

Schedule Time for Rest After Your Surgery

After you have your wisdom teeth removed, you’ll want to make sure you schedule time off from your duties to rest. If everything goes according to plan, then you’ll need about 3-4 days. If your teeth were impacted then you’ll need a full week to recover.

During this time, you’ll want to spend the majority of your time in bed getting enough sleep. For many people, this isn’t hard since the pain medication causes sleepiness. You’ll also want to avoid rigorous activity. Also, keep in mind if you’re taking prescription pain medication, you won’t be able to operate a car.

Create an Ideal Sleeping Environment

Make sure the room where you’ll be spending most of your first few days is set up to help you sleep. For some, it’s harder to sleep after surgery so make sure you create a space to set yourself up for success.

Keep Out the Light

keep out the light

If you need to sleep during the day, want blackout curtains to block the light during the daylight (remember, you’ll be sleeping during the day too). If you take your cell phone with you into your room, make sure you turn off the ringer and place it face down. This will ensure you aren’t woken up by notifications or phone calls. This will also make sure your phone isn’t a source of light

Lower the Temperature in the Room

Set the temperature a bit lower because a colder room helps you go into a deeper sleep. A colder room also helps you stay in the deeper sleep cycles for a longer period of time. The ideal temperature is about 60-67 degrees.

Use Aromatherapy

Studies show that essential oils at bedtime can help you sleep. Receptors in your nose send messages to your brain to release serotonin. You can diffuse oils, place them directly on the skin, or put them on your pillow. The best scents to help you sleep are lavender and vanilla.

Play Music

Some people benefit from listening to music while trying to fall asleep. This is especially true if you’re in pain, listening to your favorite music can help take your mind off it. The best kind of music to help you sleep is slow, calming music such as classical or jazz. If you aren’t into that kind of music then pick something from your personal collection that has around 60-80 beats per minute.

Best Sleeping Position for Healing

As mentioned above, for the first 3 days you’ll want to sleep with your head elevated. After that you’ll want to make sure you avoid the temptation to sleep on your side. The best position is on your back to avoid any pressure on your cheeks.

You’ll want to maintain this sleeping position until you’re mostly healed, which is about a week for most people. If you’re worried you’ll roll over onto your side while you’re asleep, then you should consider purchasing a couple of wedge pillows. You place these on either side of you while you sleep to prevent you from rolling over.

Do You Need Medication to Help You Sleep?

medication for sleep

If you’re still having trouble sleeping, then talk to your doctor to see if they have any recommendations on how you can get sleep after your wisdom teeth removal surgery. They can also look into maybe getting you a prescription for sleep medication.

They also might have some good over the counter sleep aid recommendations. Make sure you consult with your doctor first before you take anything to make sure it’s safe to take with your pain medication.

Lack of Sleep Can Be A Vicious Cycle

As you can see, getting a lot of good sleep is vital to your healing process. It can become a vicious cycle when you don’t sleep, it takes you longer to heal and the longer it takes you to heal, the less sleep you get. Make sure you take all of these tips into consideration and don’t wait until it’s too late to try to figure out how to get some sleep after your wisdom teeth removal surgery.

Karl Townsend Administrator
Having suffered for decades, I know a thing or two about bad oral hygiene. That\'s why I started this site. To help educate and inform visitors on good oral products and how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
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