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Sleeping after ACDF Surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi Everyone,

I will be having ACDF on C5-C6 on October 6 and was wondering what the most comfortable way to sleep is. Should I sleep in a recliner or is it more comfortable sleeping on a wedge pillow? I have both and was wondering what most of you have done after surgery. Any advice on this topic would be greatly appreciated, as well as any other pointers anyone has to make recovery more comfortable. I just don't know what to expect and I am very nervous about the surgery. Thank you for reading this, I look forward to hearing your imput.



  • For me, I slept in a recliner for about the first two weeks. It was the most comfortable position for me at the time. After that, I used a wedge pillow and kind of turned it so my head fit long ways in the wedge. It sounds weird but it worked for me. Funny thing is, without the collar now, I still sleep that way. Will you be in a collar?

    I can understand about being nervous. I had my surgery on July 9th and this forum really helped me out. I was actually very calm the morning of my surgery and was in the hospital for 4 days. I've only ever been under for my wisdom teeth and a knee surgery, so I was a bit nauseous.

    Other than that, things went great. Still have a little numbness and tingling, especially after a long day at work but that's to be expected since it's only been about 11 weeks now.

    I'm sure other members will give their thoughts as well.


  • I will be in a collar, that in it self seems like sleeping will be difficult. That's why I asked the forum for tips. Thank you for your input :) , I will be putting your tips to use.

    Take care,
  • I had a hard collare for three weeks after then nothing. no problem sleeping in my bed with pillow from day 2 when i got home. After not sleeping much for a month before from all the pain and have no pain after surgery sleeping we great.
    I guess it depends on person, i'd have trouble sleeping in recliner no matter what. I would not worry ACDF surgery is not that bad and not much pain assocated with surgery for most.
    ps, the collar you get used too, i sort of missed it after the 3 weeks.
    cannot drive with it thats what bothered me the most.
  • welcome and hi christi, for me i did not sleep more than 2 hours at a time for the first 2 months at home, don't know why but i would dose off in the car in church etc... my wife got a plywood board i had in storage and it was covered with indoor/outdoor carpet. she raised one end with about 3 big pillows and put a soft pillow on top of the board. that is how i slept on my back w/ a hard neck collar. still fuzzy about it over 1 yr later. i hope u are going to have help when u come home - its alot easier. have straws that will bend, soft foods like yogurt,ice cream,pudding jello, simple soups,cup o noodles, etc.... i had a difficult time swallowing and i could not lay flat because i would girggle. after i took the collar off i bought a temper pedx pillow because normal pillows put too much pressure on the back of my head. we have just purchased a new lane dual sofa recliner w/ pillowtop and it is soooooooo comfortable and soft. others will have more ideas and u will have to find out what will work for u. there are other posts with alot of this info also.
  • christi r u having a NS do the surgery? good luck and i will say a prayer 4 u. kc
  • Christi,

    Hope everything goes well with you the day of surgery. I feel the same way as you. NERVOUS!! Thanks for the question, I was wondering the same thing. I've heard so many different stories. Not sure what to expect. I will be praying for you, the day of your surgery. Let me know things go.

  • Hi KC,

    Yes, a Neurosurgeon is doing my surgery. Fortunately, he is well respected and supposed to be an excellent surgeon. Thank you for your comments and for the prayer.

    Take care,
    Christi :)
  • Hi Beth,

    Thank you for the comment! Sounds like we are in the same boat.....Nervous and not sure what to expect :SS ! I will also say a prayer for you that your surgery goes well. I will post an update as soon as I am able. Good luck with your surgery.

    God bless,
  • Hi Christi,
    I read your post with interest as I also have C5-6 problems and therefore have the same concerns as you so am interested in the answers you recieved in this post.
    I wish you the very best for your op and a speedy recovery.
  • hey Christi,
    I tried to sleep in the recliner but could not sleep. So for me I found my answer was to take a lot of pillows and make a big U and put my body in the middle. Success!!!
    I am a side sleeper and because of surgery (for me) it took about a year to be comfy again on side.
    Good luck to both you and beth on your surgeries.
    keep us posted.
  • i am happy to hear u have a NS for your surgery. i know there are good ortho docs but i feel when it deals with your spine find a great NS. still saying prayers for u and beth to have a sucessful surgery and a speedy recovery.
  • I am 2 weeks post op ACDF C5-6 and C6-7. I am scheduled to be in an Aspen collar (hard collar) for 3 months 24/7. It is not comfortable. However, I will get through this. Some nights are better than others. I bought a wedge pillow that I use. It is never a great nights sleep but I get enough sleep to function. Afterall, there is not much you can do for awhile afterwards. No BLT, no lifting more than 5-10 lbs. I also keep a variety of pillows around my bed that work for me on different nights. Sometimes I use a U-shaped neck pillow. I have several small pillows from my sofa that have come in handy.

    One thing I wish I had done - ask to try on a collar prior to surgery. After my surgery, I woke up in a collar. Well, it took me a couple of days in the hospital to realize it was too big. It was high in front of my mouth. Kind of funny looking back. Anyway, I asked for a smaller size and got it, I still think it could be a little smaller.

    One thing I have not seen posted on here is to buy a good pair of walking shoes. I am not one to sit around and watch TV all day or read a long book. I can, however walk. So I go for walks as much as I can. I have lumbar problems too so that still limits me.

    I still have pain but I think it is my muscles trying to relearn. Afterall, my cervical spine should now have the correct curvature and no more pressure on my spinal cord. I also still have numbness in my hands and feet that I had prior but have read that it will take time for that to go away (I hope it does). Throughout the day I still get fatigued (lack of sleep and aches and pains) but, then I just take it easy or take a nap. Litsten to your body.

    As of now, I would say my worst moment with the surgery was the night of. The anstesia did not sit well in my stomach and I was scared of vomiting. But once I got in out, I felt much better. The pain was under control in the hospital for the most part.

    If you need to talk to someone, feel free to PM me. It is all still fresh in my mind. You will be ok.
  • Christi (and Beth),
    This is one of those questions that it is difficult to answer. I personally preferred the recliner. I think one of the reasons I like the recliner is because the back/top of it hits my head and neck just perfectly, with a little built in support. Sort of felt like I could sink into it, which was like I was snuggled tight in bed. This was very comforting to me. I was also able to sleep in the hospital bed if the head was raised up. Laying flat my bed just didn't work. If you don't have a recliner, try raising the head of your bed with a board, like KC described. Also, invest in a few different types of pillows. What works one night may not work the next, so it will just be a matter of experimenting until you find a comfortable position.

    My favorite pillow is a very lightly filled feather pillow. Of course initially after surgery I had a collar on and so nothing really worked. but now that I no longer wear the collar, I can crush the pillow to fit my neck perfectly when sleeping on my side. It provides perfect support. I also have several other pillows that I position underneath this pillow. Some people use a rolled up towel to give the needed support in the curve of the neck.

    I hope these suggestions help a little. It is actually just a trial and error thing until you find what works for you. There are so many different types of pillows, from basic $5.00 pillows to very expensive water pillows, that you could end up with a dozen different ones, and like I said before, what works one night may not work the next.

    I wish both of you well with surgery.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • I'm 3wk's post op and I have no problem sleeping at all. I slept even well the day of my surgery. I had a level one ACDF C4/5. I woke up every now and then. When I went home the next day I slept in bed and slept very well. I had put a few pillows to keep me a little upright. They said I could sleep anyway i felt like except on my stomach. I've been really lucky I had no collar, and my pain was gone except for my post op pain. Of healing of the nerves and muscles. I went for my 2wk's post op and everything is going well, will go back in Dec. to have another xray.
    Well I wish you the best of luck and hope you find someway to rest.
  • I had c5/c6 done 6wks ago. Slept in the recliner for the first 2 wks. I did buy a wedge pillow, but I think I bought too big of one so I really never used it. Good Luck it will get better.
  • It was also easier for me to get up when I was in the recliner, if that makes any since.
  • Hi Christi,

    I was reading trough some of the cervical posts, as I likely will be facing a 3 level ACDF, and see your surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. Hope it all goes well !
  • I am over 3 months post op. I had no problems during my 2 months home. I work in a cath lab setting, hence I wear a lead apron about 50% of the time. I have been exercising (nothing heavy-duty and 22lbs down) almost everyday since week 4. I have started to have discomfort on the rt side of my neck. I am also having discomfort tilting my head back, looking up. I went to my NS and they said it was lead apron related. I hope so!
    Anyone seen this before?
  • Abdul Q. HijaziAAbdul Q. Hijazi Posts: 1
    edited 10/26/2015 - 10:12 PM
    I am a side sleeper. Can I sleep sideways after my ACDF?

    Please click on this link for spine-health information
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Liz. Spine-health Moderator
  • [Deleted User][[Deleted User] Posts: 0
    edited 10/27/2015 - 12:09 AM
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • I bought a reclining lawn chair and put this in my room, slept on it for about 6-8 wks. Works great.
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