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How To Sleep With Broken Ribs (Simple Tips & Tricks)

Having a broken rib(s) can be a frustrating experience. Although it might not be a life-threatening injury, it can be extremely painful and make everyday activities like sleeping unusually difficult.


At night we breathe a little deeper and connect our rib cages with our beds, meaning that there is a higher chance for you to feel pain or irritation.

So let’s say you’re up at night because you can’t sleep on account of your broken ribs. Is there some way you can sleep without pain? Are you ever going to be able to get a good night’s sleep again?

If you’re wondering about this—don’t panic! You’ve come to the right place. There are some best practices for how to sleep with broken ribs to minimize pain.

In this article, we’re going to take you through a few tips you can use to help you sleep better with broken ribs.

Why Do I Feel Pain When Sleeping With Broken Ribs?

If you’re sleeping with broken ribs, one of the most noticeable inconveniences is a pain when sleeping. There are a few key reasons why you might feel additional pain when trying to sleep.

Let’s take a look at these root causes here so that we can find ways to remedy them.

  1. Pressure: If you’re sleeping at an angle that adds additional pressure to the broken rib or ribs in question, then there’s a big chance that you’re going to feel pain.
  2. Temperature: As the temperature lowers, your muscles will contract in order to hold onto heat. This means that you’re more likely to feel pain at night due to this change in temperature.
  3. Movement While Sleeping: As you sleep, you will lose control of your body movement. It’s common for humans to toss, turn, or move around in their bed while sleeping. This means that there’s a good chance you’ll end up sleeping in an unfavorable position, and adding additional pressure to your ribs. This pressure and pain can cause you to wake up.

What To Do If You Are Having Trouble Sleeping With Broken Ribs

So now that we’ve looked through some of the most common reasons why you might feel additional pain while trying to sleep at night, let’s take a look at the main ways you can remedy this issue.

Firstly, we’re going to want to take a look at the position that you’re sleeping in. Selecting a broken-rib-friendly sleeping position will lower the chances of pain throughout the night.

Let’s take a look at some of them in the sections below.

1. Sleep On Your Back


This is a fairly common sleeping position, but if you usually sleep on your side then you might want to consider it.

Sleeping on your back is just what it sounds like, sleeping with your head pointing upwards.

This will allow you to completely relieve pressure from the sides and front of your ribcage, which can greatly reduce pain throughout the night.

If you’re not used to sleeping on your back, it might feel difficult at first, but it will help ease your pain a considerable amount.

We’d recommend taking some time to properly tuck yourself into bed if you’re not used to sleeping on your back.

Make sure your head is correctly propped up with pillows, that your bed environment is soft and comfortable, and that you don’t have any distractions in your room that will stop you from drifting off. 

2. Sleep Sitting Down

Are you able to nod off sitting upright in a chair or propped up in bed? If this is a place where you feel comfortable, this can be a great choice if you’re looking for some comfort.

Although it might not be as good for you as sleeping on your back, this can be a great choice to ease your pain symptoms on the worst nights of pain throughout your recovery.

We’d suggest making sure you select a chair that supports your body. You don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night in a position that constricts your muscles, as this could end up causing more pain.

3. Control Your Breathing

Deep breaths cause your chest to expand, and can cause pain to someone with broken ribs. We’d recommend that you practice shallow breathing, in order to mitigate this problem.

Make sure to take shorter breaths. If you do feel the need to take a deep breath in, make sure you do it slowly and allow time for your muscles to properly contract.

A sharp breath can cause problems and could risk further injury. A Good rule of thumb is—if it hurts, take it easy! 

Should I Take Pain Medication?

Taking medication is a great way to ease your pain symptoms. Thankfully there are a lot of easy pain relievers that you can take to make yourself feel better. We’d recommend taking a simple pain reliever like ibuprofen. 

This will dull your pain and make you feel better throughout the night. It’s a good idea to take a few of these pills as you settle down for the evening.

This will allow you to unwind and take your mind off the pain, which in turn will allow you to sleep. Make sure to read the directions of any medicine and do not exceed recommended dosage.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it! That was our short guide on how to ease pain and sleep with broken ribs. It’s worth remembering that although at first it might feel like you’ll never sleep again, you’ll soon be on your way to recovery and pain-free nights.

Making sure to sleep in a position that reduces the pressure on your ribs, and taking pain-relieving medications are both ways that will help you to sleep.

We hope that this guide has given you some ideas for how you can get a better night’s sleep with broken ribs and that you make a swift and speedy recovery!

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