sauna-bedroomSleeping is another big challenge during your recovery. You should not expect to sleep anywhere near your normal number of hours nor the schedule that you normally have.

The obvious reason for this is the pain. It will keep you awake and it will wake you up. It is therefor extremely important to plan your sleep around your medication schedule. Its also important to consider when you drink water as your throat gets very dry when you are sleeping.

The best strategy is to take your pain medication schedule and plan to eat about half an hour after taking your medication and then if possible fall asleep afterwards. This gives you the maximum time to sleep with the pain medication in your system. Most of the pain medication will wear off within 3-4 hours after which you may naturally wake up from the pain.

You need to decide whether you want to set an alarm to force you to wake up and take some more medication and drink water or to just continue sleeping. The advantage of waking up with an alarm is that you hydrate your throat and keep a constant level of pain medication in your system. As always I strongly recommend that you follow your doctors recommendation.

Sweet dreams!

20 Responses to “Sleeping”

  • Troy:
March 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I’m 29 year old male and I am now 4 days post surgery. Without a doubt I can say sleeping has been the worst part of the recovery. As explained above, when you are sleeping you aren’t hydrating and not taking the pain killers on a “regular” schedule. I have found that sleeping “up right” (either propped up with pillows in bed or in the recliner), and drinking lots when I do wake up has helped the most. Last night I didn’t do this, and woke up at about 4am in severe pain – after getting down a popsicle and then some water and a couple pain killers I felt better; but it was an excruciating 1.5 hours

HYDRATION seems to be the key to doing well! Best of luck if your recovering from a tonsillectomy!

  • JP:
December 29, 2011 at 2:41 pm

I am 39yrs. old and a week post op from haveing my tonsails and remaining atnoids removed. Yes hyration and pain medication are the key to doing the best you can. And your pain medication cycle will be your food and sleep cycle. There is no way around it. It took me three painfull (very painfull) days to realize and I have,had,two back surgeries.
Sleeping around three hours is as far as I can go without drinking water and then an,hour later pain meds. Any longer and it is very painful to get the mouth moving again abd lubricated. So set an alarm for three hours at a time. But u really,dont have to cause your mouth will wake you up. Try not to sleep with a fan on or things that cause the air to dry. A humidifier by your bed,will help great. I hear about there being a light at the of the tunnle dealing with post op healing, I just hope that light shines on a nice plate of nachos and a burger and fries.

  • brian:
November 22, 2012 at 6:26 am

hi im a 33 yr old male just going into my third day of tonsillectomy recovery,just woke at 5am after 3 1/2 hrs sleep,woke in a panic because throat is so dry and couldn’t swallow pain relief,going to be a long few days,good luck anyone going through this

  • daphne:
May 30, 2015 at 7:41 am

Just had my tonsils removed May 29, 2015. The pain bearable. Just wish I could sleep. Haven’t slept since I got home from the hospital. I’m 46 yrs old and needed a tonsillectomy. Doctor said they should’ve came out a long time ago.

  • Sarah:
June 3, 2015 at 2:04 pm

I’m on my second day post op and I’m 28 and my throat and ears are in excruciating pain. I’ve been drinking a ton of water and gatorade. One thing that has kinda helped is chloriseptic spray for sore throats and I spray it 5 times every 2 hours

  • Lee:
June 5, 2015 at 2:10 pm

3rd day post op and the pain is the worst today but still bearable. I have been eating well, even had a sandwich in the hospital, but sleeping has been impossible. As soon as I lie down my airways seem to close up so have to try sitting up. Barely had 3 or 4 hours a night and doubt its been more than an hour at a time. The irony here is that they were taken out because of my snoring which now seems to be worse. Hope it gets better…

  • Kay:
June 8, 2015 at 9:40 am

I had my tonsils out 6/3. The pain has been the worst I’ve ever endured even with taking the medication on schedule. Sleeping has been another challenge, and I’m lucky if I get an hour in when I take my meds. I have found that keeping ice on my neck and eats constantly has helped…and the hour of sleep that I do get has been of better quality (at least I think so). My tongue and uvula are still incredibly swollen, and I am sure that once this decreases I will be able to sleep better. Still hoping the pain will let up a bit, though not overly optimistic.

  • Ara:
June 8, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Surgery was done 6/3. Today is day 5 post op. I’ve been living off water, basically. First two days I ate some pudding, and he’ll, and Popsicles. Now if I even try anything but water, my pain level goes to a 10/10. Ears blow up, head blows up, throat feels like there’s cement in it, etc. This is by far ridiculous, and I would never imagine that so many people go through this torture to recover. I honestly pray this is over with soon. I’m able to write this now because I just took my codeine about 40 minutes ago. But once it wears out, man o man. Good luck to everyone..Oh and I think other than my 3 hr alarm schedule for pain meds at night, I’m going to set an alarm to wake up every 20 minutes tonight to have water. I’d rather not sleep then wake up feeling like there are torched knives sitting in my throat. Ok. Good luck and can’t wait for this living nightmare to be behind us.

      • Erika:
August 14, 2015 at 5:55 am

I had my tonsils out 7 days ago now. And our story is much the same. I keep hoping the next day will be better but it turns out to be even worse than the previous day which i didn’t think was possible. Ive maybe eaten 1000 calories in a whole week. Ive never felt so pathetic, weak, tired and sick in all of my life. The only thing thats comforting is drinking water every 5 minutes. I tried sleeping 6 day post op and i woke up in EXTREME pain and my throat started mildly bleeding it was that dry and i only fell asleep for an hour. the surgery and the pain meds they give you are just not okay. I got tylenol 3 and my pain is a 10. atleast should have got percocet so we could atleast eat and sleep. I just hope it gets better by day 8 or 9 or i will probably go insane.

  • Sandy Nicholson:
July 2, 2015 at 5:58 am

I had my Tonsils and Adenoids out on Friday, 6/26/15. Here it is , July 1st and I am ready to die. If I had it to do over, I would never do this again. I will deal with Strep Throat, sleep apnea and everything else. This is like the. 7th circle of Hell and I’m so delirious, I can’t finish my story.

      • Ibnu:
October 22, 2015 at 5:22 pm

Ke4nnesr igen den ke4nslan!Jag sov sju timmar natetn till idag, sedan gick jag till skolan och sov mig igenom hela ff6rmiddagens ff6rele4sningar, sedan gick jag hem och sov ne5gra timmar till…

  • Prateek:
July 4, 2015 at 9:39 pm

I had my tonsils and adenoids removed on the 2nd and it has been very painful. I am drinking a lot of water in small quantity to keep my throat hydrated and haven’t had a proper meal in 2 days. Sleeping is a big problem and my neck and upper back hurts from sleeping in a reclined manner. Hope that all the pain subsides soon.
Frequently drinking water is a boon and I am worried if I fall asleep my throat will dry up and cause a lot of pain to get it back into a hydration cycle.
Sleeping lying flat is not even an option due to all the snoring and dryness.

  • Amanda:
August 21, 2015 at 4:00 am

Surgery day 08/12 and today is 08/20. Today is day 9 if you count surgery day. I expected a constant pain of 2-5, try a regular pain of 5/6, after I take the pain meds. Anywhere from a 7-10 otherwise. I developed a cold and trying to recover while hacking like a chain smoker hasn’t been pleasent. Results have been sleep deprivation, lowest sleep in 1 day 40 minutes and longest was 3 hours over multiple days. I added at one point and found that in 72 hours Id slept 5 hours. As a result I’ve also suffered numerous (6) bouts with bleeding, the longest of which lasted about 20 minutes and shortest about 5 minutes. Not because of dehydration, but because of the jerking motion in my throat when I cough. If i tried to sleep, I’d wake choking on blood from the force of my coughs as I slept. They gave me a cough suppressent benzonatate that helped the first hour, but then it’d created so much access saliva in my mouth and throat that I was now choking on and coughing up the excess saliva. So now I’m dealing with the coughing, sleep deprivation and my scabs coming off resulting in white hot pain as the skin is newly exposed, or blood if the spot wasn’t ready. Doing my best to stay hydrated. Swallowing past the pain is not easy and makes me cry at times and I may be beginning to lose the battle with hydration. My urine is right on the edge of the color chart. Not an experience I’d ever repeat if I had to. If these babies grow back I’ll take it as a sign that I need to keep them!

  • Ralph:
September 8, 2015 at 12:02 pm

I’m a 40 yo male who had surgery on 8-28. I have bled twice since the original surgery and both times ended up with me in surgery again! 3 surgeries in 10 days is definitely not what I signed up for. I started looking around the Internet for a way to sleep more comfortably since my back can’t take much more of this recliner but it seems that I have the same issue as everyone else. So back to my uncomfortable recliner for now… I haven’t had much in the way of food besides popsicles and I swear if I NEVER see another coconut popsicle it will be WAYYYYYYYYY too soon! Both of my bleeds came from coughing. What I didn’t realize is that around day 7 you start to lose the scabs. I coughed in my sleep on day 7 and sure enough I was dumping blood out of my throat. Sucking on ice cubes stopped it but it started bleeding 2 more times before I went to the hospital and once while I was there. I lost almost a pint of blood on that one. The second time I opened it up I went directly to the ER and back into surgery. That time I didn’t lose any. I’m on day 11 now and 24 hours out of surgery… I’ve had almost no pain today (meaning under a 4/10) and for some reason I’m happy with a 4! I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I was at a 8/9 most of the time from days 4-7 and that’s after Tylenol 3 and Motrin 800 every 2 hours. I’m pretty sure I’m back at day 1 (and 3) for the spots that were fixed on the right side, they were two different spots that opened up, and day 11 on the left side. I have no idea what to expect at this point but it’s possible that I’m just too afraid to try to sleep after all of this. I swear I’m going to have PTSD from this whole ordeal!!!

      • Marie:
January 2, 2017 at 7:29 am

How long did the doctor tell you to stay propped up when you sleep?

  • Ashley:
September 19, 2015 at 5:40 am

Well this is post op day 4 for me and I am struggling with nausea, unbearable pain and sleep deprivation. Believe it or not this is my second tonsillectomy in 6 months. My left one began to regrow just weeks after it was removed and I’ve been struggling with strep and tonsillitis ever since. I thought I was prepared this time around having just gone through it a few months prior but this time is completely different! I’m in ragweed season so I’m battling snot and drainage from that as well as the thick saliva that gathers in your throat as a result of a tonsillectomy. While only one side was operated on this time, the pain is still just as bad. Last time I was eating pudding and applesauce in day 2… This time I can barely stomach Popsicles! I’ve been drinking tons of water, Gatorade and chicken broth. Last time I did not deal with any nausea but I have done nothing but heave today! Also last time I was feeling pretty food by day 4 and 5, but not this time. Last time I started bleeding badly on day 7 and got to have a lovely overnight stay at the hospital for observation. I did have small Bleeds days 7-12 but nothing a little ice gargle couldn’t take care of. I’m hoping I won’t bleed this time as that was very terrifying spitting up clots and clots of bright red blood! So surely I am hoping for a better outcome this go around! As for sleeping; im just like the rest of you, sleeping in a reclined position is the only way to comfortably sleep ( my neck and back don’t agree) i tried laying on my side earlier today and that was definitely a horrible decision! So as being a person who has gone through this and is going through it again, it does get better. Once the scabs start falling off you notice a big difference in how you feel. I didn’t start eating food until about 2 weeks post op and that was simply still soft bland things. And whatever you do, don’t eat a banana for like a month! I figured once the scabs were off it would be okay… Nope that new tissue is still sensitive and it burns for like 20 minutes at least! I would recommend drinking Special K or ensure to keep nutrients. I did all that and still lost 15lbs the first to around… I’m already about 6lbs down this time. And in end it is worth it ( yes even though I’m doing through it again). Having 2 weeks of this discomfort versus a lifetime of tonsillitis, strep that sometimes won’t go away for months, tonsil stones and bad breath, is def worth it!

  • Jay:
January 1, 2016 at 8:12 am

I’m 9 to 10 days in recovery, and the only problem I have is when I sleep on a certain side, that specific side is in pain. Is it because of pressure?

  • Natalie:
March 27, 2016 at 8:05 pm

I’m on day 3 post op and sleeping has been the best during my recovery! My throat is also not dry at all and is staying moist. I managed to get 7 hours of sleep last night with maybe waking up once to use the bathroom. My pain has not been too bad either.

  • Amber:
January 9, 2017 at 5:28 am

I am 17 and it’s been just a little over 2 weeks after my tonsillectomy and im just now feeling normal.. the first and second day wasn’t bad.. the 3rd day the pain started and it was non stop from there, I took my pain med ever day untill 2 days ago because the pain was still so bad. They say that your sleep schedule isn’t going to be the same during recovery but for me i slept 8-10 hours because i’d rather sleep than feel the pain. The throat pain wasn’t terrible honestly it felt like a bad case of tonsillitis which i got so often and that was the reason for the procedure, but the ear pain… the ear pain was non tolerable, the inside of your ear it feel like it’s bleeding and your eardrum is busting over and over again, i don’t want to exaggerate this pain! After my throat stopped hurting my ear continued to hurt.. IT SUCKS. Some things i did to help with the pain was to take my medicine every 4 hours but during the night i didn’t take it unless i woke up because i didn’t want waking up every 4 hours messing up the sleep i could get.. and sleep during recovery is greatly needed. I also put an humidifier in my room to help with my throat not getting dry at night because that pain is also terrible. I slept the first couple days, but after about 3 days getting up and doing stuff nothing to drastic helped a bunch!! but also if you do too much it makes you feel even worse, i decided to go shopping 5 days after my surgery because it was the day after christmas. Also when the doctor says to watch watch what you pick up and not to pick up things that are heavy.. take this seriously! I picked my 2 year old sister up and you can feel it in your throat!! Things after my surgery that was been different is that now that my tonsils are out, my taste buds have change, i used to drink soda everyday not soda taste disgusting to me.. sleeping has been difficulty and the doctor said this was due to my breathing being different. after all the pain i hope it will be worth it in the future and i won’t have to miss school or work! and also not have the terrible pain in my throat. also btw take 14 days off of work!!! if you’re in school do it during break!! you will regret it if not.. missing christmas dinner will be worth it, lol.

  • Kate:
June 6, 2017 at 8:15 pm

When sleeping, to avoid a dry throats which hurts incredibly bad to wake up to, use a humidifier next to your bed. I did two nights before I thought of this and those two nights were terrible and I woke up every two hours in pain. Last night I used the humidifier and when I woke up to take meds, it didn’t hurt and it wasn’t dry.


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