How Long Should You Sleep In A Recliner After Shoulder Surgery?

Your shoulder is likely to get injured for many reasons. You could either dislocate your shoulder bone or undergo a major surgery where the doctors replace your shoulder. One of the most common questions after underdoing a major shoulder surgery is regarding the patient’s sleeping position. Doctors usually recommend that post-operation patients sleep in a reclined position to unnecessarily avoid touching the operated shoulder area. Most people opt for a recliner to sleep on post-surgery, but the main question that arises is, “how long should you sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery?”

If you are looking to find an answer to the same question as above, you have come to the right place. Please read this article to determine the optimal period recommended for a patient to sleep on a recliner post-operation.

Doctor’s recommendation

Generally, doctors recommend sleeping in a recliner for the first few initial weeks after your surgery. Doctors suggest sleeping in a recliner because a recliner provides the patient with the ideal inclined position, which prevents any damage to the operated area. After the initial weeks of sleeping on a recliner, the doctors allow the patient to sleep in a self-propped position using high pillows for about 6 weeks. The recommended angle at which a patient should prop himself using pillows is 45 degrees. Patients have found certain kinds of pillows to be more helpful than others. One such pillow is the reading pillow that has arm supports. The reading pillow allows the patient to put one arm on the armrests for extra support. Another such pillow that patients found helpful is known as the wedge pillow. You can purchase both kinds of pillows online or at a health store.

Why is sleeping in a recliner good for you?

You might be wondering what other benefits sleeping on a recliner has for a post-operation patient. Well, to begin with, the inclined position while sleeping allows quick healing for the operated area. The blood flow is improved, and muscle strains are prevented. Sleeping in a recliner prevents the patient from moving, which is good for him, considering his surgery. If patients were allowed to move freely after surgery, it would cause them severe pain and further damage to the shoulder.

Sleeping in a recliner after shoulder surgery also prevents a patient from lying down horizontally. Lying down horizontally after surgery is not good for the operated area. This position engages the muscles firmly and causes unnecessary strain around the shoulder.

So, if you want to heal quickly after shoulder surgery, you should follow your doctor’s recommendation. Doctors generally suggest sleeping on a recliner for the first two weeks and then in an inclined position for the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Other suggestions

  • Avoid sleeping flat on your back
  • Do not sleep on your surgery side
  • Wear a sling to prevent excess movement
  • Take the medicines suggested by your doctor to minimize pain
  • Icing before bed can help soothe the area

Tips for Sleeping On Your Recliner After a Shoulder Surgery

Sleep in an inclined position:

One of the best ways to ease pain and improve comfort after shoulder surgery is to sleep in an inclined position. By elevating your head and shoulders above the level of your heart, you can help reduce swelling and improve your circulation. You can achieve this by propping yourself up with pillows or sleeping in a recliner chair.

In fact, for the first week or two post-surgery, a recliner chair may be your best bet for getting a good night’s sleep. Many people find that they can’t lie flat on their back immediately after surgery due to discomfort. The reclined position will take the pressure off your surgical site and allow you to sleep more comfortably.

Use a pillow:

For extra comfort, you may want to use a pillow to keep your arm supported while you sleep. Placing a pillow under your arm can help take the pressure off your shoulder and make it easier to find a comfortable position.

Ice your shoulder

To help reduce pain and swelling, you might want to ice your shoulder before getting on your recliner. You can do this by filling a plastic bag with ice and placing it on your shoulder for 15-20 minutes.

Wear a supportive device:

If you’ve been instructed to wear a sling or other supportive device, be sure to do so while you sleep. This will help keep your arm in the correct position and prevent you from moving it around too much.

Frequently asked questions

How long can I sleep in my recliner?

You can complete your night’s sleep on the recliner if you find it comfortable. Sleeping on the recliner has many other benefits, including acid reflux prevention, back pain minimization, and sleep apnea.

What is the ideal angle for my recliner to be reclined at?

If you want to sleep in your recliner after surgery, the recommended angle is between 45 to 50 degrees.

How long before sleeping should I take my pain medication?

You should consult your doctor, who prescribed the pain medication to you for dosage and consumption timings. Normally people are recommended to take them 30 minutes before bedtime, but every medication differs, and a doctor will recommend the most suitable timings to you.

Why is it important to sleep in a recliner after shoulder surgery?

Sleeping in a recliner after shoulder surgery helps take the pressure off your shoulder and allows you to sleep more comfortably. It also helps reduce pain and swelling.


Trying to sleep after shoulder surgery may sound and seem scary at first but ensure that you follow your doctor’s suggestions perfectly for a smooth and quick healing process. For the first few weeks after the surgery, doctors recommend that patients sleep in a recliner and move to a self-propped inclined position for the following 4 to 6 weeks. The inclined position makes the healing process faster since it causes smooth blood circulation to the operated area and restricts unnecessary movements that could damage your shoulder. Sleeping in a recliner after shoulder surgery is completely safe, and it will only help you manage your post-operation pain.

Last updated: 12/08/2022

About Karen Miller

Hello! I'm Karen Miller, an interior designer from Chicago with a passion for creating beautiful and functional spaces. After leading designer at Chicago Interior LLC in 2010-2020, I started to share my expertise on home comfort. I'm excited to help you transform your home into a place of comfort and joy. Thanks for joining me on this journey!

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