Sleeping With A Stoma: My 4 Top Tips For A Peaceful Night’s Sleep

Sleeping With A Stoma My 4 Top Tips For A Peaceful Night’S Sleep

The thought of managing my stoma through the night made me anxious

Before I had my stoma formed, I was a little anxious as to how I was going to manage it through the night. Would I have to set an alarm for 2am so I could get up and empty my pouch? Would I have to lie super still so I didn’t knock my stoma? What if I got a leak whilst I was sleeping? Ok, so maybe I was more than a little anxious.

Luckily for me, the first few nights after my operation, when the nurse woke me up to give me my drugs, I was too off my face on painkillers to know what my own name was, let alone worry about my stoma. I honestly can’t remember how I managed any stoma care at all during that time. So how do I accommodate my stoma in the night?

  1. I always empty my pouch right before I get into bed. After that, I don’t need to empty it a lot really. Yes, most nights I do have to get up and drain my pouch in the early hours of the morning but I don’t set an alarm for this. In the same way you automatically wake up at 6am on the weekends even though you don’t need to get up for work, I automatically wake up to tend to my pouch in the middle of the night because this is what my system is used to.
  2. By planning my meals so that I eat dinner early evening rather than late evening, I can help to avoid the aforementioned task of early morning bag-emptying. Eating earlier means that my stoma is less active (and therefore produces less output) through the night. I have tried this and it definitely works, but muggins here is of course too lazy and disorganised to do this regularly! Another thing that similarly helps is to eat a light evening meal rather than a big, heavy one but, again, I haven’t quite reached this level of discipline.
  3. I have learned to reach a compromise on sleeping positions. When I first gained my stoma, I started off sleeping either on my sides or my back but I soon began to miss my favourite night time position – lying on my stomach. Lying face down could potentially prove difficult for ostomates because, depending on the distribution of body weight, it can put pressure on the stoma and pouch. My compromise is: I enjoy the luxury of lying on my stomach for the first ten minutes or so after getting into bed, then I switch.
  4. I take extra care to fit my pouch properly before bed. In the entire two and a half years of having a stoma, I have only ever had one night time leak and it wasn’t because of the position I was lying in or because my pouch was overfilled. It was because I hadn’t stuck the thing on properly!

These tips can help you to get a good night's sleep with your stoma

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by Rakhee Patel

Rakhee Patel

About the author

I'm Rakhee, I have had a loop ileostomy and now have an end ileostomy due to Crohn's disease. Happy to share my journey!

Recent Comments

  • Prak

    Thank you for sharing your experience. How do yo deal with ballooning of pouch.

  • Rakhee

    Hi Prak, I try and avoid any foods which I know will cause increased gas production but if that fails, I change my pouch before going to bed. That way the filter is less likely to be blocked. Additionally, I don't tuck my pouch into my pyjama bottoms when I sleep so the bag is not restricted by the waist band. Hope that helps!

  • SecuriCare Admin

    Hi Prak - have you seen Sonikmummy's past blog about this topic? You can visit it here: http://www.securicaremedical.co.uk/Menu/Securicare-Blog/ArtMID/15413/ArticleID/49/Stoma-Bag-Ballooning-Tips-For-Coping.aspx

  • Fernando

    I have to empty my pouch aproximily 4 times and i had good breakfast and a little snack at 5pm,thats all and during the day i empty the pouch aproximily 11 times,i am so frustrated, i am using one piece convatec And 2 piece pouch aand the don't stick well in my stomach i all so tried Convatec and i have having problems and accidente, i have 3 months with these pouches

  • Stephen Wardman

    How di I stop ballooning of my stoma bag which is attached to a night bag, it leeks every night

  • George

    Hi , I just had a Stoma fitted about 2 weeks ago, I am really struggling to get my head round it and deal with it, I am usually really active but this is depressing me and getting me down, Ave been told it can be reversed but it's still a worry for me , can anyone give me advice on how to deal with it more easier , thanks

  • Rakhee

    Hi Fernando, I would definitely say speak to your stoma nurse about these problems you are having. Firstly it's worth finding out why you are having so much output. Secondly there are lots of different types of ostomy pouches you can try. You may find that a different pouch sticks better. Wishing you well.

  • Rakhee

    Hi George,It's perfectly normal to find it hard to come to terms with having a stoma at first. It's a big change for one to go through. Personally, I found that counselling really helped me reach a state of acceptance about having a stoma. Once I had accepted the situation, it no longer had any power over me or my emotions. As you start to gradually go out more and try different activities, you will gain more confidence with it. If you're not at this stage yet, that's ok. Everyone is different but if it makes you feel any better, many of us lead very active lifestyles with our stomas. One of my fellow bloggers, Nick is an outdoor adventurer and another, Jay is a body builder. All the best, George. I believe in you!

  • Kim

    Very new to this illieostomy stuff 3 months I am going home from nursing rehab Thursday and do nervous just started emptying it today mine leak all the time no matter who how or what kind so far

  • Mala Morjaria

    I had an end colostomy a year ago . It is reversible . I had the op because of CA of rectum . Didn’t have any chemo as I was unwell for 2 months .
    I am now having chemo as there are couple of lesions in the liver .
    The colostomy was never an issue .
    I use flushable !! Just amazing . I am intrigued as why the hospitals or stoma nurses don't promote it . Has anyone got similar experience ?
    Healthy , natural and environmentally friendly .

  • Ilhaj memon

    Hii rakhee, my ostomy opration will be done soon, i just want to see u on youtube because there are so many videos on youtube regarding ostomy but its not indian if u come forwrd then many indians will come forwrd n share there experience of their life being an indian people they cant share their problems regarding getting ostomy supply, or so on please come on youtube

  • Danielle Kassing

    Hi there! Thank you so much for this post. I am only five weeks post-op loop ileostomy. It was not a planned surgery as it was not for Crohns or anything of that nature. I had my large intestine completely removed due to a bad hysterectomy. I had an anastomosis- for those who don’t know what that is, they took my small bowel and attached it to my rectum so that I would not have to have an ileostomy. Unfortunately 10 days later I had a perforation at the anastomosis site

  • Casandra Bullock

    Hi im going to have a urostomy in a few days and I'll be honest I am terrified! Does anyone know if a urostomy (only urine in the bag) is easier? My bladder is shot and my uterus has precancerous cells. Because of my reconstructive surgeries they are fused together and both have to go. Please keep sharing your stories because it helps me to know that I am not alone. Blessed day! Cassie

  • kathy

    try not to fret ive had my stoma for 7 years, ive got family and friends who don't know i have it, you will soon find out what works for you, check the internet for new appliances your nurses are very good, i am just waiting to have my bowel removed, it will all be fine just give it time, good luck

  • Lynn Howarth

    Hi, I had my ileostomy surgery almost five years ago. In the beginning it was a nightmare, bags leaking and bursting all the time. Having to get up in the middle of the night to strip and change my bed, I was suicidal. However, as time went on and I began to heal and recover things improved. I also did a lot of research into colostomy bags and was in regular contact with my stoma nurse. I watch numerous videos on YouTube and joined discussion groups. I was very strict with my diet and now all this has paid off. I use the latest stoma bags, they are grey with a turquoise Velcro fastening and I use Slims which are round like an oversized polo Mi t which can be stretched to fit round your stoma, this helps to stop the burning of anything g leaks behind the bag. Also, I picked up a great tip off an osteomate on YouTube here he recommended that after you have washed and cleaned the skin around your stoma, use a hairdryer to make sure the area is totally dry, this is a must to help stop the bag coming away.
    I am now so confident I don't bother taking spares with me and I have not had any leakages for at least three years.
    The only thing that really frustrates me, is having to get up during the night to empty my bag. It has affected my sleep pattern and I sometimes lie awake for hours afterwards. Could anyone tell me if this happens to everyone with a bag and is it normal.
    Apart from this one problem, I am living a full and active life and more often than not forget I am wearing one. I hope this helps you people who are having problems to improve your daily life.
    Sending love
    Lynn

  • Jenny

    Hi Lynn, I have never heard of Slims where do you get these from?
    I find that eating earlier in the evening, a small meal, and not too much fluid before bed, drastically reduces my night time stoma dramas.
    Occasionally I have problems with the bag ballooning in the night, but this is usually because I have drunk a lot of water before bed (for some reason water equals gas for my stoma!) I don’t need to change the bag but will need to let the air escape.
    I should watch my diet to stop stoma issues (and I do avoid nuts which now disagree with me) but I don’t avoid spicy foods, as I love them and would rather have the issues than skip my favourite meals.

  • Marlene

    I have been out of hospital for 4 weeks and still have problems with bags leaking and emptying bag all during the night so frustrated can't see an end to this

    • SecuriCare_Team

      Hi Marlene, do you have a Stoma Care Nurse? They should be able to advise you if your pouch is the right fit, and if any additional products like flange extenders or Morform could help you.

      You are most welcome to give the SecuriCare team a call for support on 0800 318 965.

  • Marlene

    I have started using the tip I was given of drying skin around stoma with a hairdryer and it has made all the difference i also got new bags from stoma nurses which seem to be working well it does get easier although at the time you never think it will good luck to everyone .

  • Maureen Hughes

    I have had my stoma 35 years now and when I first had it I had leaks and sore skin all the time. I then discovered convetec mouldable flanges and my life has been transformed.you just roll them back fit over your stoma and roll back, simple , never had a leak since other than not clicking the pouch on properly. I also eat everything including nuts , corn and even skin on jacket potatoes. The only problem I have is having to get up twice a night to empty my pouch ,which is most annoying when in a deep sleep. I have not let it stop me traveling the world either, so we just have to make the most of what life has given us.

  • Jay

    Hi all ostomates.
    Im a newbie at this stoma bag. I just had a major surgery and 32cm of colon was just removed.
    I have Crohns.
    Im glad i found this site.
    Im going home tomorrow after 7 weeks .
    I found this by searching for why when i sleep i wake up after a short while having a big fright? Does anyone experience that?
    Im also seeing the stoma nurse before i go home.
    Im constantly checking for leaks until im too tired to keep awake.
    Every bag we fit always leaks . My output is now about is 300ml.
    My concern is the sleep wake up with a fright?

  • Robin

    My daughter is up four times a night to empty her pouch. She can't avoid Fluid intake or else she becomes terribly dehydrated. Any suggestions?

    • SecuriCare_Team

      Hi Robin, you may find something like Morform could be helpful. www.clinimed.co.uk/stoma-care/products/stoma-skin-care-and-accessories/morform

      Please seek advice from your stoma care nurse or healthcare practitioner if your daughter is still struggling.

  • Linda

    I have come across the Osto-EZ-Vent Air Release Device , it is a little valve you can attach to your colostomy bag to release gas, there is a you tube video to show how it works , please view , any feed back of anyone who have tried this would be great
    Thanks
    Lynn

  • Constance Spicero

    It is a joy to find a group who also have ilostomy bags ... I've had one for two months and I hate it ... the night time awakening is frightening because I think it is going to leak ... I've had one horrible experience, so I am even more worried about a repeat ...

  • Cheta

    Ask stoma nurse for help with any problems. I change my husband’s bag. I use Bravo Xlarge Elastic Barrier Strips. It supports the rim of the Ostomy baseplate. Never have leak now.

  • Mo

    My problem is finding a stronger stoma bag that is slightly larger to take more output of liquid i do take in less fluid before bed and earlier meals which are light but find I require a larger bag to avoid more than four times up at night. As regards the waking up with a big fright Jay, I think you mean a kind of loud buzz in your head like electric shock. This is usually just before dropping off to sleep. Everyone gets this. And it’s unexplained but nothing to worry about! So I’m told. Mo love to you.

  • Dan

    I'm55 now. at 22 my surgeon took my large intestine out and some of my small intestine. Since then I have had 14 surgeries and they have taken more and more of my small intestine out.

    Which leaves me with not must for absorbing vitimins and the real nutriments I need from real food.

    Now I have 2 had mesh repairs and was told by surgeon that there is no more surgery...plus there is no other spot on my stomach to put new one. I have used every bit of stomach wall for these operations

    It's definitely hard on the body and have paid dearly in health because of it.

    I have been to so many nurses for care when I would have major problems with leaking and having to change 2 times a day
    Finally I found one place called Christ hospital in Cincinnati they specialize in Ostomy care problems

    They helped me find an awesome combo to help with it staying on..

    When your changing. Clean and dry. Then I use the stoma sticky pad that will dry and protect skin under pouch
    Then a dry the area. The secret is using a barrier ring just around the stoma instead of paste. Use hair dryer for a few seconds to get it a little taky then put on your pouch keeping the pouch 1/16 inch away from the bottom of your ileostomy. This will help so much on leaking . It has changed my life.

    Wish I would have known 20 years ago.

    Even with all these years with it I have never ever been able to sleep all night or have a great sleep. I don't think there is a definite answer on sleeping with one. But I sleep in a recliner .. that helps out 100 persent. But still have to empty 3-4 times a night.

    Also sweating really bad makes you leak. Or have problems..

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