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Sleeping with a Stoma – How to Ensure a Good Night Sleep

28th August 2020

We all know just how important sleep is, it gives us the energy we need for the day ahead and leaves us in a good mood and feeling positive. Not to mention all of the other physical benefits of adequate sleep! 

Sleeping with a stoma can be a concern for ostomates, especially if your surgery was fairly recent and you’re still adjusting to your stoma. However, there are measures you can take to help take away any anxiety and ensure you have a great night sleep regardless of your stoma.

We’ve got some of our top tips below.

Change or empty your stoma bag before you go to bed

Our first piece of advice is to make sure you’re going to bed with either a fresh or an empty stoma bag, depending on the type of bag you use. This can help to reduce any anxiety you may have about leakages as well as make sure your bag doesn’t overflow throughout the night.

Make changing your stoma bag a part of your nighttime routine and it will soon become second nature to you.

Plan your meal times accordingly

Secondly, pay attention to your eating habits and how food affects your stoma. You may find it useful to eat your evening meal earlier than you normally would to give your body time to process the food before you go to bed. 

You should also pay attention to how certain foods make you feel and whether they cause any issues with your stoma. Over time, you may be able to identify certain food types that cause issues with your stoma. It’s a good idea to avoid any foods that cause diarrhoea in all meals, but particularly your evening one! Find out more about what you should eat with a stoma here.

Find a sleeping position that works for you

As time goes by, you’ll quickly discover a sleeping position that works for you. The most popular positions amongst ostomates tends to be on your back or on your side. While sleeping on your front is considered the most comfortable by many, it can put pressure on your stoma and bag which can cause problems. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get used to sleeping on either your back or your side.

You can also experiment using pillows in certain positions, for example if you’re sleeping on your side, try putting a pillow under your stoma bag for support. Don’t worry too much about this, you will quickly find a position that works for you.

Make sure your stoma bag is on properly

Our next top tip may sound like a really obvious one, but it’s really important to make sure that your stoma bag is in place properly before you go to bed! When we hear about leakages during the night, one of the most common causes is with the adhesion where people haven’t properly fitted the bag. 

So, pay extra attention to how you apply your stoma bag and double check it’s on properly before you go to sleep!

Ensure you’re using the right stoma bag for you

Making sure you’re using the right bag for you is important for all areas of life, not just sleeping. However, ensuring you’re using the right bag for you can help to reduce anxiety and significantly improve your quality of sleep.

Things to consider include the size of your stoma, the type of stoma you have and your output. Your stoma nurse should be able to get you on the right lines with which stoma bag would work for you. You can also order free samples from our website, enabling you to try different options and find the one that works for you. 

Other things you can try…

Of course, there are a huge number of things you can try to help improve your quality of sleep, all of which apply to everyone not just ostomates! Some of the main things to try include:

  • Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day.
  • Reduce blue light exposure in the evening
  • Don’t consume caffeine late in the day
  • Reduce irregular or long daytime naps
  • Reduce alcohol intake
  • Optimize your bedroom environment – including temperature, lighting, and cleanliness
  • Relax and try to clear your mind
  • Have a warm bath or shower before you go to bed
  • If needed, invest in a more comfortable mattress and/or pillows

It’s worth bearing in mind that everybody is different and what works for some people won’t work for others. As time goes by, you will settle into a routine that works for you. If you are struggling, speak to your stoma nurse or HCP who will be able to offer some specific advice.

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