Cinderella With A Stoma – Sleeping With An Ostomy

Rachael Bags

If I was to be asked what the most challenging part of life with an ostomy is for me, the answer would be getting a good night’s sleep! 

Sleeping with a stoma was a little more challenging than I had anticipated.

I deal with issues such as a broken sleeping pattern often to empty the bag at least once during the night, adjusting to a new sleeping position and of course the dreaded anxiety of leaking. With trial and error, and a few binned bedsheets later I think I have finally found a routine to help me get the best night’s sleep possible.

Let’s talk about each of these issues, and my solution to them. FYI these are things that work for me and may not be best for you. If you have any serious issues relating to your stoma, please seek qualified medical advice.

Broken sleeping pattern

I’m sure we are all far too familiar with the half-awake stumble to the loo at 2am to empty our bags, and if you have a medium to high output you may find this trip is probably repeated a few hours later.

The first thing I have found to help is to stop eating around three hours before bed, this helps minimise output during the night. Avoiding foods and drinks in the evening that cause gas is another step in helping to prevent frequent toilet trips throughout the night.

Tip: keep a food diary to identify which foods work well for you in terms of digestion, this way you can be sure to avoid problematic foods in the evening.

Sleeping position

For me, as a natural tummy sleeper, finding a comfortable position doesn’t come easily. The most important thing you can do when it comes to staying as comfortable as possible (as well as looking after the physical health of your body) is to invest in a great mattress. If you’re like me and feel most relaxed on your tummy or side, then try raising one leg or placing a pillow between your legs to take the weight off the stoma. 

Tip: this will also help to prevent leaking, because lying flat on your bag is going to cause pressure and could force the output under the seal.

Again, a supportive mattress is super important especially in this position, as you might find years of sleeping like this could cause pain in the lower back without the correct support.

Dealing with Anxiety

I’m sure leaks have happened to all of us at some point, and will probably happen again no matter how hard we try to prevent them, but here is how I try to ensure I have minimal episodes of pooping the bed!

Firstly before you get comfortable, check your bag! Look for dark shadowing under the seal, this is a sign that your output is already working its way out. Look for lifting or air bubbles around the adhesive, again these are gaps that make it easy for your output to squeeze into (especially if you are laying on your front). There are products you can use for additional security around the seal of the bag, and although these won’t prevent a leak, they can buy you some extra time to change before things get too messy!

If your bag doesn’t look perfect before you head to bed, don’t risk it, change it! You’ll also need some type of protective cover on our bedding such as a mattress protector or pad. At least knowing your bedding is protected will give you some piece of mind to aid a worriless sleep.

As a SecuriCare customer you could benefit from our complimentary items which include bed pads. Join us by signing up online. Our home delivery service is free and we can provide all makes and brands of stoma care products.

by Rachael Kin

Rachael Kin

About the author

My name is Rachael, I'm an ostomate, mumma and wine taster (I think just the first two count?) I have an ileostomy stoma called Sheila and we are inseparable, literally. This is our journey... I am a novice blogger but an expert in origami, so if my humour fails me, I can always make you a hat? Follow me on Instagram!

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