Try these six steps to help you sleep soundly with an ostomy bag.
A good night’s sleep is an important part of recovery after ileostomy surgery. Yet adjusting your sleep patterns with an ostomy bag will take some time and patience, especially in the early days. Fortunately, with some simple bedtime modifications, you can still enjoy a restful night of restorative sleep.
Learning to live with your ostomy pouch shouldn’t necessitate major adjustments to your lifestyle. Here are six tips that will help you get the sleep you need:
Empty the Bag Before Going to Bed. Immediately before you slip into bed, empty the contents of your ostomy pouch. This prevents the bag from becoming overly filled during the night. Also, make sure the pouch fits tightly over the stoma. A loose-fitting pouch could lead to a nighttime leak.
Don’t Eat Prior to Bedtime. Consuming a heavy meal just before bedtime will make your stoma more active and could possibly lead to frequent drainages during the night. Instead, prepare a light dinner for the early evening, or eat at least two hours before going to sleep.
Find a Comfortable Sleep Position. You likely won’t have to change your sleeping position following the ostomy surgery. The recommended sleeping posture is either on your back or side. For side sleepers, resting on your ostomy side shouldn’t be a problem. If you want to sleep on the opposite side, place your pouch on a pillow so the bag isn’t weighed down and pulling away from your abdomen as it fills. People who are used to sleeping on their stomach can still do so with some minor adjustments, such as nestling a pillow under their bent stoma-side knee to create a gap between the pouch and the mattress. That way, your stoma and pouch aren’t squeezed beneath your body.
Know When to Empty Your Pouch. Initially, you may have to set an alarm to remind yourself to empty your pouch. As you heal and adapt to your ostomy, your body may naturally alert you when it’s time to drain the pouch. And if you drain it before bedtime, you may not need to discharge the waste until the early morning.
Secure Your Pouch. Wear an ostomy belt or wrap to keep your pouch snug, but not too tight, on your abdomen during the night. Don’t wear tight-fitting pajamas that will restrict the flow into the pouch. If you find your nighttime output is heavy, ask your ostomy nurse about a nighttime drainage bag.
Prevent Leaks. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, you may experience an occasional leak. In the case of an unexpected leak, have your ostomy supplies, a change of bedtime clothes, and sheets nearby. You can also protect your mattress by placing a pad on the bed to absorb any leakage. If you notice your nighttime output continues to be excessive and interrupts your sleep frequently, talk to your doctor about medications that could reduce the amount of fecal waste draining into the pouch.
Getting seven hours of sleep each night is an important part of the healing process. If you find your ostomy is keeping you up at night, talk to your doctor or ostomy nurse about how to get the shuteye you need.
At the Center for Ileostomy Surgery, we understand that an ileostomy is a life-changing operation. Our professional staff stands ready to guide you through the process, from pre-op to recovery and beyond. Contact us today for more information.