The Do's and DON'TS of Sleeping With a Knee Brace

The Do's and DON'TS of Sleeping With a Knee Brace

Millions of people need knee braces as a result of suffering from joint pain. Questions plague them like should I wear a knee brace to bed, and how do I sleep comfortably with a brace on?

Wear your knee brace for at least a week if you have no doctor's recommendation. You should wear the brace to bed to keep your knee stable and prevent further injury to the joint as you sleep. You can sleep comfortably with a brace if you use pillows and the right sleep aids. 

Sleeping with a Knee Brace

You can and should sleep with a knee brace if you've injured your knee. You may wonder how you can catch the necessary REM cycles with a bulky brace on or why you should even wear a brace. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about knee braces and sleeping. 

Should I Wear a Knee Brace While Sleeping? 

You absolutely should wear a knee brace while sleeping if you have an injured knee. When you sleep, you fall into a deep, hypnotic state where you cannot control your movements. Wearing a knee braces does two major things for your injured joint:

1. It stabilizes the joint. This means the brace will prevent you from thrashing around in your sleep and subsequently undoing anything a doctor or surgeon did. The brace protects your knee just as much when you sleep as it does when you're attempting to walk around. 

To make sure the brace truly stabilizes your knee, tighten your straps adequately. Test the tightness to make sure you do not strangle your leg but rather have the brace on securely.

2. It alleviates pain. When you sleep, you have little control over your movements. Throwing your leg across the bed will result in pain if you do not have a stabilized joint, and this pain will wake you up. 

You may believe a knee brace will prevent you from falling asleep, but knee pain will prevent you from getting a good night's sleep.

Remember, you cannot see the ligaments and muscles under your skin, the areas where your knee is most vulnerable. Basic rolling and readjusting while you sleep can cause more damage to your knee, so wear the brace when you go to bed to keep your joint aligned as it should be.

No one said sleeping with a knee brace would be comfortable, but it will keep your knee safe. The longer you can tolerate your brace, the more quickly your rehab will go. 

Make sure to keep you brace clean or to swap it out with a clean brace when you sleep. If you accumulate the dust of the day on your brace, the brace can irritate your skin. Protect your skin by keeping the brace clean. 

Is it Bad to Sleep With a Knee Brace On?

Sleeping with a knee brace may not be the most comfortable thing you do in the day. But it is not bad to sleep with a knee brace on. In fact, sleeping with a knee brace on is a good thing if it protects your knee and gives it a chance to heal.

The key to sleeping with a knee brace on lies in what you do before you go to bed.

Take Your Pain Meds

If your doctor gave your pain medication after your procedure, take it before you go to bed. This will help you relax and sleep with less pain. If you do not have prescription medication, take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like an NSAID to help you sleep with less pain.

Sleep means more than just getting rest. Your body does its best healing while you sleep. So taking your pain meds literally helps your body heal. 

Cool Things Down

To reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain, use some cryotherapy. Thirty minutes before you go to bed, remove your brace and ice your knee. 

Keep the ice on your knee for 20 minutes. Do not put the ice directly on the skin as it can damage the skin tissue. 

Once the 20 minutes have passed, take off the ice and let your knee rest without the brace for 10 minutes. Then put your brace on before you turn out the lights for the night. 

Ice therapy along with anti-inflammatory medication and elevation will reduce the swelling in your knee and make you more comfortable.  

Some therapists and doctors will recommend alternating heat and ice. Test this idea out to see if it alleviates your pain, inflammation, or swelling. If it works, keep heating and icing. 

What's the Best Sleeping Position After ACL surgery?

ACL surgery is an invasive knee reconstruction process. Doctors do some serious cutting and manipulating on your knee when they repair your ACL. Thus staying still as you sleep especially matters after ACL surgery.

It's hard to imagine sleeping with a knee brace on, especially if you sleep on your stomach or your side. The best sleeping position puts you flat on you back, though, after ACL surgery. If you are not a back sleeper, learn to be one.

Before you lie down and attempt to fall asleep, break out your pillows. Place two pillows under your knee to keep your knee elevated and slightly bent. Then put pillows on your side to anchor your body and keep you from rolling over.

If you're a side sleeper, you need to anchor your body so you do not inadvertently roll over as you're sleeping. Pillows will give you maximum comfort so you can sleep as best as possible with a knee brace. 

Best Sleeping Position for a Torn Meniscus?

A torn meniscus is a common knee injury, even if you're not an athlete. 

Your best bet for sleeping well when you recover from a torn meniscus lies in the type of brace you purchase. Find the best knee brace for a meniscus tear and use this to help your meniscus heal as you sleep. 

Wear your knee brace to bed to keep your knee aligned, still. 

Sleep Hygiene Matters

When you're attempting to heal from an injury, sleep hygiene matters more than ever. You can do things that help facilitate a good night's sleep. 

Avoid taking naps in the middle of the day. If you do take a nap, keep it to less than 30 minutes. Anything more than 30 minutes will make you feel groggy and not refreshed, 

Go to bed at the same time every night, and set your alarm to wake up the same time every day. Remember, you're training your body to sleep, so you need to stick to a schedule regardless of your daytime activities. 

Avoid stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, especially after 3 pm. You might think an extra cup of coffee isn't affecting you when you drink it at 7 pm because you tend to fall asleep quickly. But extra caffeine will negatively affect your REM cycle, and you'll end up waking up feeling groggy and not rested. 

Even with your knee brace, you can engage in some exercise. Try to exercise not using your knee to promote good sleep. Lift weights as you sit in your chair, for example. Go for a swim as you progress through your rehab so you can move freely without worrying about bearing unnecessary weight on your joint. 

Limit your food intake after dinner, and avoid spicy food at night. When your food talks to you through your belly, you'll have a hard time sleeping. 

Purposefully expose yourself to natural light daily. If you work in a cubicle or find yourself housebound because of your knee, seek out the sunlight. 

Even if the weather is cold you can find some sunlight. Bundle up during the peak time of daylight, and sit outside of your house, soaking in the vitamin D. Fresh air and sunlight in the morning will help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply. 

Get some block out curtains for your bedroom or purchase a sleep mask to help you fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. To sleep well, you need a dark, cool room, so make your room dark and somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees. 

Bedtime routines are not just for children. Establish a bedtime routine for yourself that includes taking some time to shut down your brain. Once you've established a routine, keep it and do the same thing every night. 

You're training your body to remember that it's time to fall asleep, so keeping your routine the same is key to good sleep hygiene. 

Remember, your bed is for two things: sex and sleep. So use your bed just for sleep and sex.

Do not read in bed or watch television in bed. Do not scroll through your phone in bed, and if you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall asleep, do not lie awake in bed.

If you're lying awake, get up and sit in a chair. This will help train your brain to remember that the bed is for sleep and the chair is for being awake. The blue light of a computer and phone contributes greatly to insomnia, so limit your exposure.

Sleep Aids

Use sleep aids so you can fall asleep regardless of that knee brace you have to wait. Invest in an essential oil diffuser, a white-noise machine, the right mattress, or sleep moisturizer. All of these things can help you drift off to sleep quickly. 

Some top-grade luxury mattresses come with a fully customizable sleep system, including premium features like adjustable lumbar support to help you maintain the best sleeping position during rehabilitation.

Top Tips for Sleeping With a Knee Brace

Understanding what to do and not to do when you have a knee brace will help you get the sleep you need to heal quickly and completely.

The Dos:

Do measure for a knee brace before you buy it. A knee brace that is too tight will cut off circulation. A knee brace that is too loose will fall off and not do its job. 

Do wear your knee brace long enough.

Ask your doctor, "How long should I wear a knee brace?" Typically patients wear their brace six weeks after surgery. 

Do take your pain medication, but follow your prescription carefully. Pain meds will reduce your inflammation and allow you to fall asleep so your body can heal. 

Do pay attention to where you sleep. Your braced leg can tend to get hot, so change your sleep position so your braced leg is on the outside edge of the bed. This way you can throw the blanket off your leg without bothering your sleeping partner. 

Do consider supplements like glucosamine that helps lube up your joints and make things move more freely. Supplements can help facilitate healing and ease of movement. 

Do pay attention to your diet. healthy diet will facilitate healing, especially after surgery. Fill your plate with fresh, healthy veggies and fruit. 


Do not neglect your skin. A knee brace can wreak havoc on your skin, so keep it moisturized. When you do not use lotion, your skin begins to chafe and burn, and irritated skin will prevent a good night's sleep.

Do not neglect your rehab exercises. These are painful, but they help you regain mobility. If you want to walk with full mobility and wean yourself off your knee brace, you must do your exercises. 

Do not neglect to meditate. Take time at the end of the day, perhaps in your bedtime routine, to relax. Studies have shown stress can inhibit healing, so not taking time to just rest can keep you in your knee brace longer. 

Do not neglect exercise. Focus on no-impact exercises like aqua-jogging or upper-body exercises. Baby your knee as you workout and follow your physical therapist's instructions.  

Rest and Rehab with Confidence

Sleeping with a knee brace may sound impossible. With the right sleep aids and a positive attitude, though, you can catch all the sleep you need to heal quickly. Healthy food, sunshine, a little bit of exercise, and positivity will see you back on both legs in no time. 

For all of your knee brace needs, contact us. We can help you find the right knee brace for all of your joint rehabilitation needs. 


  • Dorothy Saunders

    I have a small torned meniscus in my right knee I had an MRI done but did not need surgery at that time but one month ago I started to have some pain in the knee and swelling I have done all of the above that you mention ice , elevate
    the knee and take Ibuprofen to reduce the swelling I think it’s time for another MRI to see if the tear have gotten bigger and make an appointment to see my orthopedic surgeon.

  • Sue Robison

    After 3 months post tkr I finally bought a knee immobilizer to sleep in. I’m a restless sleeper and my involuntary movements at night caused much pain. How long should I wear it before I try to get off the brace at night? I’m scared it will happen again and it is so painful 2 and 3 times a night.

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