How to sleep after gallbladder surgery

How to sleep after gallbladder surgery

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ, below your liver, in your upper right abdomen. The gallbladder stores bile, a digestive fluid produced by the liver, and releases it to help break down fatty foods (1)

Diseases of the gallbladder such as inflammation, infection, stones, or blockades may warrant surgery to remove the gallbladder. The procedure can be performed either through small, minimally invasive incisions( (laparoscopy) or open gallbladder surgery (2).

Sleep can be challenging after surgery, involving the removal of the gallbladder. Many people may find this frustrating because they need to recover following surgery. Some patients may experience sleeplessness due to pain, discomfort, or drug side effects following surgery. The good thing is that there are strategies to employ after gallbladder surgery to ease discomfort and encourage rest.

This article gives you tips on how to sleep after gallbladder surgery.

When Is Surgery for The Gallbladder Required?

Although the gallbladder plays a significant part in our digestive system, it is not absolutely necessary for food to be digested and eliminated, and you can survive without one.

The gallbladder is surgically removed from the body via a procedure known as a cholecystectomy, and this is often recommended if you develop any problem with it, such as painful gallstones or infections.

Gallstones are solid or hardened deposits of bile that develop in the bile duct or the gallbladder. These stones sometimes obstruct bile flow and can cause inflammation of the gallbladder (acute cholecystitis) or pancreas (acute pancreatitis)

When you begin to experience any of the following symptoms frequently as a result of gallstones, surgery to remove the gallbladder becomes the most effective treatment option.

  • Sharp upper-right abdominal pain that radiates to your middle abdomen, right shoulder, or back.
  • Recurring fevers and feeling or being sick
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes)
  • Digestive symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and bloating—particularly after meals (3, 4)

What Happens During Gallbladder Surgery?

Your doctor may decide to perform a laparoscopic gallbladder removal, which entails creating several small incisions in your abdomen rather than one large one in order to introduce surgical instruments and effectively complete the procedure.

Undoubtedly, a less invasive procedure is preferable because it facilitates healing and reduces the possibility of postoperative problems.

Regardless of the type of surgery you choose, you will likely be given a general anesthetic and won’t be conscious during the procedure.

You won’t experience any discomfort this way, and when the process is finished and finished with, you will awaken. Before making the required incision(s) on the upper right side of your abdomen while you are under anesthesia, your surgeon will clean the incision site with an antiseptic.

Your surgeon will insert a tiny camera into one of the incision sites if the procedure is being done laparoscopically so they can see what they’re doing. Following the removal of your gallbladder from your abdomen, imaging tests (intraoperative cholangiography) are typically performed to look for bile duct obstructions.

The incisions are closed with stitches once everything is clean, and you will be taken to recovery. One to two hours later, you will awaken! (4, 5, 6)

Recovery process

You’ll probably feel really worn out and possibly have some pain just after your procedure. You might be able to return home later that day after laparoscopic surgery, with recovery typically taking about 2 weeks. This is perfect for many patients who prefer to sleep in the comfort of their own beds.

However, some patients might need more care and support, which a hospital can only offer. This is the situation for open surgeries, where you may have to stay for a few days in the hospital, with recovery typically taking 6 to 8 weeks (6)

In any case, follow instructions while taking all prescribed medications, including painkillers and stool softeners. Remember to adhere to your doctor’s dietary instructions after surgery by eating a high-fiber diet and getting enough fluids to hydrate your body and aid in its recovery.

Lastly, if you had a laparoscopic procedure, you should definitely take it easy for about a week and refrain from moving your incision sites or carrying anything heavy that could do so.

In order to avoid blood clots brought on by prolonged sitting or lying down, you should still get up and move around occasionally.

How to sleep after gallbladder surgery

Although being comfortable when sleeping is quite difficult, it is crucial for the healing process. This is particularly true if you typically sleep on your stomach or your side and are unable to do so because of the placement of your incisions.

It might be difficult to get enough sleep if you’re in pain, so be sure to follow your doctor’s advice when it comes to taking painkillers to assist lower your pain levels so that you can get to sleep.

Here are some suggestions to help you get enough rest following gallbladder surgery:

To lessen pain, sleep on your back or left side

After gallbladder surgery, it is advisable to sleep on your back or your left side because these postures are the easiest on the abdominal wall and won’t put pressure on the surgical site.

There’s a chance that you’ll need to modify how you sleep after your procedure. For instance, you would need to switch to sleeping on your back or side following surgery if you typically sleep on your stomach (in the prone position)

Adjust your surroundings and create a good sleeping environment

Sleeping in particular settings can be more effective whether or not recovering from surgery is on the agenda.

Create a dark, cool, and relaxing atmosphere with blackout curtains. To mute sights and sounds, if necessary, put on an eye mask or earplugs.

Change wound dressings and attend to other essential care tasks such as having a glass of water near you and easily accessible, before retiring for the evening, to limit waking up during the night.

Consider meditating

It can be easier said than done to relax the body. Some methods of meditation are beneficial. People could practice deep breathing techniques. For instance, the box breathing technique involves taking a 4-second breath, holding it for 4 seconds, and then slowly exhaling through your mouth for 4 seconds.

Another option is to practice progressive muscular relaxation. This method contracts and relaxes muscles, beginning at the bottom of the feet and working their way up the body.

Take Painkillers as Directed by Your Physician

Your doctor will give you a thorough post-operative care regimen after your procedure, which will include a few drugs to help you manage your pain and recover more quickly.

You should strictly abide by your doctor’s orders and take all prescribed drugs on schedule.

Adjust your diet to promote healing

You can speed up your recuperation and get back to your regular sleep routine by making changes to your diet and way of living.

By eating balanced, healthy meals throughout the day in modest portions at regular intervals, you will improve the quality of your diet. Avoid heavy meals in the days after your surgery

You might also want to sip on various herbal teas like jasmine tea, lavender tea, or natural green tea as they contain relaxing and stress-relieving effects.

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake during recovery because these substances can interrupt sleep.

Adhere to medical advice on exercise

Your physician or surgeon may provide personalized advice on the mode and intensity of exercise to engage in after surgery. Intense exercise may not be permitted in the initial days following your surgery.

Exercise to increase circulation and relieve bloating such as a brief walk can help you to feel better.

Living without a gallbladder

You can live normally without a gallbladder. The liver continues to produce bile to break down fats. However, the bile leaks continuously into your gut, instead of being stored in the gallbladder.

Gut problems such as nausea, vomiting, bloating or diarrhea usually resolve within a few weeks. You should be on the lookout for food or drinks that trigger these symptoms, and consider avoiding them when necessary, Generally, you should have balanced, healthy meals to help the body heal faster

When to see a doctor if you are having sleeping problems after gallbladder surgery

You may encounter difficulty sleeping in the first few weeks after the procedure. Depending on the type of surgery carried out, as in the case of open surgery, the discomfort may last a few more weeks.

With prolonged sleep difficulty, it is necessary to inform your doctor during post-operative assessment or call them before appointment sessions, if need be, to discuss your options.

Though gallbladder removal surgery is considered a safe procedure, the risk of complications such as wound infection, bile leakage into the abdomen, damage to ducts in the abdomen, and blood clots may occur.

You should report to your doctor immediately if you have persistent nausea, vomiting, dizziness, bloating, or fever above 38 degrees Celsius and/or discharges from an incision site that may be foul-smelling.


It’s not always simple to fall asleep following gallbladder surgery, but having a strategy in place can help.

The shortest route to a restful night’s sleep while you recover is to prepare your sleeping area, keep painkillers on hand, and adhere to all of your doctor’s recommendations.


Michael Sarfo
Content Creator at Wapomu

Michael Sarfo is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Legon. He is a content creator for and a writer for Wapomu

Dr. Solomon Kwesi Otchere (Pharmacist)

Dr. Solomon Kwesi Otchere is a Pharmacist by profession in Ghana. He is passionate about informed healthy lifestyle and diet options necessary for preventing many disease conditions. He also empowers patients and clients to make savvy choices on medications needful to promote good health.

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