Struggling to find the best sleeping position for hemorrhoids can make even the most restless of nights even worse.
No matter which way you move, you find yourself feeling itchy, uncomfortable, and, let’s face it, downright miserable.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
In this guide, we’ll share with you the top three best sleeping positions for hemorrhoids, as well as offer more top tips and suggestions to help you enjoy the quality sleep you deserve.
Why Are Hemorrhoids Worse at Night?
Hemorrhoids are a condition that, at one time or another, are said to have affected some 36 million adults in the United States.
Also known as piles, the condition occurs when the veins in your anus and lower rectum earlier are swollen. This commonly results in rectal bleeding occurring during bowel movements as well as pain or burning sensations around the rectal region.
That’s not to mention the stomach ache, cramps, and back pains that many hemorrhoid sufferers deal with.
All of this can make life hard enough during the day, but when they’re waking you up multiple times in the night, it can certainly feel worse.
So exactly why are your hemorrhoids aggravating you more at night than during the day?
There are 3 main reasons why this could be happening.
1. Lower Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is an essential hormone that has significant anti-inflammatory properties.
Cortisol levels are highest when we first wake up in the morning and then gradually decrease, ultimately hitting their lowest point at night when we’re trying to sleep.
What that means is that while cortisol’s anti-inflammatory powers may not be enough to make your hemorrhoid pain disappear entirely through the day, they do at least manage that pain better during the hours when you’re awake than they do at bedtime.
2. Inflammation From Scratching
It’s no secret that hemorrhoids can itch like crazy. The greater the itch, the greater the urge to scratch that itch until, eventually, the urge becomes too much to resist.
Yet while that may bring some temporary, minor relief, all of that scratching is going to cause lots of little cuts and cracks in the skin around your anus, resulting in them becoming painfully inflamed.
Scratch persistently during the day; you’ll be making your piles feel much worse when it’s time to turn out the lights.
When that inflammation causes yet more itching in the night, you feel compelled to wake up and scratch it, disrupting your ability to get enough hours of restorative sleep.
3. Day-to-Day Activities
As uncomfortable as hemorrhoids are, many of us will still have at least some physical activity we’ll need to engage in that can aggravate the condition throughout the day.
Every time we pass a stool, it can add to our pain. Likewise, every time we walk around, our clothes can rub against our rectum area and add to our irritation.
If we’re distracted by the simple process of going about our day, that can actually help us direct our focus away from the pain so that it doesn’t feel quite as intense.
When we stop all that activity at night and try to rest, we don’t have all those distractions to help us manage our pain, which can mean that it feels much more severe simply because we’re focusing on it more.
Why Quality Sleep is So Important for Hemorrhoid Recovery?
Whatever may be causing your pain and discomfort to increase in the night time hours, adopting one of the best sleeping positions for hemorrhoids is undoubtedly one of the best things you can do to help your body heal and repair itself.
While we’re enjoying sufficient sleep quality, our bodies are hard at work on recovery, whether that’s simply recovery from the toll of the day or from aches, ailments, and infections.
Getting good quality sleep restores our energy levels and even helps with mood regulation so that our hemorrhoid problem doesn’t lead to the kind of mental health issues that can be caused by sleep deprivation.
More importantly, a lack of sleep can cause and exacerbate inflammation which may be making your hemorrhoids last longer, getting more and more uncomfortable as time goes on.
Conversely, getting enough hours of uninterrupted rest can reduce inflammation which helps your hemorrhoids to heal much more effectively.
Top 3 Sleeping Positions For Hemorrhoids
So, we know why good quality sleep is so important, but how exactly do we get it?
The best way to start is to adopt one of the following three sleeping positions.
1. On Your Left-Hand Side
Sleeping on your side is one of the most beneficial sleeping positions of all, with the left-hand side said to have the most benefits.
Sleeping in this position will help to avoid putting any pressure on your rectal region and will also help prevent itching and chafing caused by rubbing against your mattress.
To do this effectively, place a pillow between your knees. This will reduce the amount of abdominal weight resting on your pelvic floor while also further reducing pressure on your anal cavity.
You may also want to place a second pillow behind your back to help prevent lower back pain while you sleep.
2. On Your Right-Hand Side
If you have difficulty sleeping on your left-hand side, simply switch over to your right.
Although this may not have as many health-boosting benefits as sleeping on your left, it will still help you to reduce pain and pressure on the parts of your body affected by hemorrhoids, especially if you use those pillows in the way recommended above.
3. On Your Stomach
If you read our complete guide to the best sleeping positions for different conditions, you may recall that we normally advise against sleeping on your stomach.
Doing so incorrectly can cause neck and shoulder pain while you sleep, aggravate any back pain issues, and put unnecessary pressure on the abdominals.
Do so correctly, however (with a pillow placed under the abdominal region for comfort and support), and it can make a major difference in preventing pain, pressure, and irritation on and around the anus.
How to Sleep Better With Hemorrhoids: Dos and Don’ts
Sleeping on your side on your stomach is one of the most effective ways to sleep better with hemorrhoids, but the following suggestions can help improve your sleep quality even further, boost your recovery and even banish those hemorrhoids once and for all.
Do: Treat Your Hemorrhoids With Topical Creams
Before you do anything else, the first and most important task should be to try an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream to alleviate your symptoms.
There is a range of topical creams available, with herbal treatments proving to have a positive impact on reducing pain and inflammation.
Applying these treatments as per the instructions can make a big difference, preventing hemorrhoids from disturbing your daily activities and your nightly rest.
Don’t: Neglect Diet and Exercise
Did you know that the foods you eat may worsen your hemorrhoid problem?
The main reason for this is that constipation is one of the leading causes of hemorrhoids.
Eating too much fatty, processed foods and not enough fiber may have a harder time passing a stool.
Being backed up like this can lead to hemorrhoids in the first place and make existing ones even worse.
By upping your fiber intake and adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet, you’ll be making it much easier to go to the bathroom.
In turn, this can make it easier to sleep better at night as you won’t have spent the day straining or putting added pressure on the anal muscles.
Likewise, engaging in regular exercise can not only help maintain a healthy weight (obesity is a leading contributing factor to hemorrhoid problems but can also promote healthy bowel movements.
Do: Take a Sitz Bath
One of the best pre-sleep activities for hemorrhoids is to take a warm bath, as this can help the sphincter to relax as well as generally help you feel more comfortable and prepared for a good night’s sleep.
Better yet, invest in a sitz bath. These small devices are filled with warm, shallow water gently clean the anus without you having to rub against it and irritate it further.
This is especially important as hemorrhoids can cause creases and cracks into which small pieces of fecal matter can become stuck.
This can make the area even itchier during the night and lead to further infections down the road.
Using the sitz bath to properly and safely clean the area means there’ll be less to bother you through the night.
Don’t: Forget to Wear Appropriate Sleeping Clothes
Even the clothes you wear could make your hemorrhoids feel worse at night.
When your pajamas are too restricting, it’s likely to cause more irritation and itching and make you wake up in the night to scratch.
For the best sleep, wear loose-fitting pajamas and clean cotton underwear. Some people with piles even find it easier to sleep without any underwear at all.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sleeping With Hemorrhoids
Here are some basic questions associated with Hemorrhoids and sleep. Read to learn more.
Does bed rest help hemorrhoids?
Taking time out to rest can certainly help hemorrhoids as it reduces the risk that you’ll do anything to further strain the area. However, if you’re going to do this, be sure to lie on your side or stomach to avoid putting added pressure on your anal region.
How do you stop hemorrhoids from hurting at night?
Following the advice in this guide to switch sleeping positions, take a sitz bath, and use topical creams can be the most effective way to stop hemorrhoids from hurting at night.
Does ibuprofen help with hemorrhoid pain at night?
Taking over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory treatments such as ibuprofen and aspirin can help reduce the symptoms of hemorrhoid pain at night so that you can sleep more easily.
What is The Best Way to Sleep With Hemorrhoids? A Final Piece of Advice
By now, you’ve learned that the best way to sleep with hemorrhoids is to take a sitz bath before getting into bed and sleeping on either your side or your stomach.
You’ve also learned what a difference proper diet and exercise, as well as topical creams and over-the-counter pain medications, make when it comes to getting the quality rest you deserve.
Altogether, that should help minimize the symptoms and help your hemorrhoids heal as quickly and completely as possible.
That said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t finish today’s guide without touching on the importance of talking to your doctor when dealing with piles.
After all, although rectal bleeding can be a symptom of hemorrhoids, it can also be a sign of much more serious conditions such as colon cancer. As such, if you’re bleeding before, during, or after a bowel movement, it’s certainly worth speaking to a medical professional to confirm that piles are the only problem you’re dealing with.
Likewise, it’s worth remembering that as uncomfortable as hemorrhoids are, the majority of cases heal themselves in about a week, providing they’re treated properly.
If your symptoms are lasting much longer, that’s another sign that it’s time to book a doctor’s appointment. Although the problem may not be any more serious than hemorrhoids, if your condition isn’t going away on its own, a doctor can determine why and prescribe the most effective form of treatment.
Finally, for more advice on how to get the best sleep possible, check out this guide on the importance of maintaining a proper sleep schedule, as well as our top tips and advice on how to sleep better when stressed.