Six Tips For Sleeping With An Ileostomy Bag

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“A good night’s sleep is an important part of recovery after ileostomy surgery.” - @gutless_warrior

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A good night’s sleep is an important part of recovery after ileostomy surgery. However, adjusting your sleeping pattern with an ileostomy bag will take some time and patience, especially in the early days. Over time I have learnt that with some simple bedtime modifications, you can still enjoy a restful night’s sleep.

1. Eat your dinner early prior to bedtime

Eating a heavy meal just before bedtime will make your stoma more active, which may lead to you getting up more during the night to empty your bag. Instead, prepare a light dinner for the early evening, or eat at least two hours before going to sleep.

2. Empty the bag before going to bed

Before getting into your bed, empty the contents of your ileostomy bag and make sure your bag is on securely. A loose-fitting pouch could lead to a night-time leak.

3. Know when to empty your pouch

Initially, you may have to set an alarm to remind yourself to empty your pouch. As you heal and adapt to your ostomy, your body may naturally alert you when it’s time to drain your ileostomy.

4. Secure your pouch

Some people find that wearing support garments helps to keep their pouch snug, but not too tight, on your abdomen during the night. Try not to wear tight-fitting pyjamas that will restrict the flow into the pouch.

5. Find a comfortable sleeping position

Most people don’t have to change their sleeping position following ostomy surgery. However, the recommended sleeping position is either on your back or side. If you want to sleep on the opposite side, I find that placing my ileostomy bag on a pillow so the bag isn’t weighed down and pulling away from my abdomen as it fills helps. Everyone is different and prefers to sleep in different positions, so finding what works for you is important

6. Reacting to a leak

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, you may experience an occasional leak. In the case of an unexpected leak, have your ostomy supplies, a change of bedtime clothes, and sheets nearby. You can also protect your mattress by placing a pad on the bed to absorb any leakage, for example I sleep on a waterproof mattress cover.

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by Aleesha Verma

Aleesha Verma

About the author

My name's Aleesha Verma - also known as the Gutless Warrior! I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease at the age of 18 and now have a permanent ileostomy bag - not a Prada bag, unfortunately. You can also follow me @gutlesswarrior on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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