How to get a good night’s sleep with hemorrhoids

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About one in 20 Americans, and half of adults older than age 50, experience hemorrhoids, according to the National Institutes of Health. Hemorrhoids can be incredibly painful, especially at night when you’re trying to sleep. This article will explore what hemorrhoids are and provide tips on the best ways to sleep with hemorrhoids.

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen and inflamed veins beneath the skin around your anus (external hemorrhoids) or inside your anus and lower rectum (internal hemorrhoids). Hemorrhoids can hurt, itch, burn, bleed, and be extremely uncomfortable.

The NIH says you’re more likely to get hemorrhoids if you:

  • Strain during bowel movements
  • Sit on the toilet for long periods
  • Have chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Eat low-fiber foods
  • Are older than age 50
  • Are pregnant
  • Often lift heavy objects

How to sleep with hemorrhoids

As you might imagine, hemorrhoids can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. “Since the body automatically twists and turns during sleep, living with hemorrhoids leaves one with a sleep experience filled with extreme burning and pain,” says Christine Kingsley, advanced practice registered nurse and health and wellness director of the Connecticut-based Lung Institute. “At the end of the day, sleep itself is a struggle, causing one to not be able to maximize the health benefits of rest which ultimately leads to the decline of overall health.”

Here are tips from experts about how to sleep better with hemorrhoids:

Apply witch hazel ointment to the hemorrhoid

“As it is specifically designed for this purpose,” Kingsley says, “witch hazel ointment is the ideal treatment aid for relieving swelling hemorrhoids.” Its alcohol content dries out skin and fights bacteria. It also speeds up the healing process and prevents the existing swelling from getting worse.

Take antibiotics prescribed by a physician

Kingsley says this will promote healing by blocking bacteria from recurring.

Sit on an ice pack

“The cold temperature offers instant pain relief,” Kingsley says. Don’t place the ice directly on your skin. Instead, wrap it in a paper towel or thin cloth.

Reposition the hemorrhoid

If you have a thrombosed hemorrhoid—one in which there is a blood clot—Kingsley recommends gently repositioning it to spread the blood clot, which will lessen the pain.

Stay hydrated

“Drinking plenty of water and other fluids can help soften your stools and make them easier to pass,” says Wendy Lord, registered dietitian nutritionist and medical content author at Health Reporter. “This can help prevent constipation and reduce the need to strain during bowel movements.”

Eat enough fiber during the day

Fruits and vegetables will keep your digestion running smoothly and avoid constipation, which worsens hemorrhoid pain, says Lord.

Apply a warm compress, or sit in a warm bath, before you go to sleep

This will help reduce pain and discomfort, says Lord. Take a full-body bath with Epsom salt or a sitz bath, which fits over your toilet and lets you soak the affected area without needing to take a full bath.

Sleep in a comfortable position

Sleeping on your side or stomach can be more comfortable than sleeping on your back when you have thrombosed hemorrhoids,” says Lord. “However, it is advised to experiment with different positions to find one that is most comfortable for you.”

Avoid spicy foods before bedtime

They can make you need to visit the toilet, which is only going to irritate your hemorrhoid and keep you from sleeping.

Place a pillow beneath or between your knees

Placing a pillow beneath or between your knees will reduce the pressure on your anal area and the weight of your abdomen on your pelvis.

Take an over-the-counter painkiller

Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory that reduces swelling and pain. Be cautious, though, because ibuprofen also can increase the risk that your hemorrhoids may bleed. Acetaminophen can blunt the pain sensation and let you sleep. Be sure to ask your doctor if you have any questions about painkillers.


How should you sleep with hemorrhoids?

Consider taking a warm bath before bedtime. Or use an ice pack to provide instant pain relief. Don’t wear clothing that fits tightly, especially underwear, as you want to allow air circulation around the affected area. Loose-fitting, breathable fabric is ideal. It’s important to sleep in a comfortable position that relieves pressure on the anal area.

What’s the best position to sleep in with hemorrhoids?

It’s not advisable to sleep on your back as that position increases pressure on your anal area and can irritate your hemorrhoid. Sleep instead on your side, especially your left side, or on your stomach.

What helps hemorrhoid pain at night?

You can apply witch hazel ointment to the hemorrhoid to help relieve pain and swelling. Sitting on a pack of crushed ice offers instant pain relief. Avoid spicy foods before bedtime as these will likely cause you to need the toilet and can irritate the hemorrhoid. Apply a warm compress or sit in a warm bath before you sleep. Consider taking an over-the-counter painkiller, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Can I lie on my back if I have hemorrhoids?

It’s best not to lie on your back as this puts pressure on the anal area and can irritate your hemorrhoids.

Is it better to sit or lie down with hemorrhoids?

Sitting or standing for a long time can make your hemorrhoids worse by putting extra pressure on your blood vessels. Lying down can help, but it may be hard to get comfortable. Placing a pillow beneath your knees while you lie down will relieve pressure on the anal canal and reduce the abdominal weight pressing down on your pelvic floor.

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5 common (& harmful) sleep myths debunked


Where’d you get your information? If you haven’t looked into it, chances are good that much of what you think you know about sleep is based on old myths and not facts.

For a 2019 study published in the journal Sleep Health, researchers at New York University’s Langone Health School of Medicine examined 8,000 websites with sleep-related information to find out what Americans think they know about healthy sleep.


The researchers identified 20 sleep myths, ranging from the statement that “during sleep the brain is not active” to “sleeping in during the weekends is a good way to ensure you get adequate sleep.”

After running their findings by a team of sleep medicine experts, the researchers determined that many of us operate with wrong, unhealthy assumptions about sleep.

Here, we’re breaking down some of the biggest sleep myths from the study and explaining how they affect your health.


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The researchers say this sleep myth is the most likely to harm someone’s long-term health. “We have extensive evidence to show that sleeping five hours a night or less, consistently, increases your risk greatly for adverse health consequences, including cardiovascular disease and early mortality,” Rebecca Robbins, PhD, lead study investigator, tells CNN.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society both recommend adults get seven or more hours of sleep per night regularly to promote optimal health.


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The researchers point out that this is usually a sign of sleep deprivation, which can lead to a host of issues including trouble concentrating, irritability, increased risk of diabetes, and a higher risk of car accidents due to drowsy driving.

They also note that sleep deprivation could be due to sleep apnea, which occurs when the muscles in your throat relax, blocking the airway and causing a momentary cessation of breathing. You then wake up, gasp for air, and go back to sleep.

The sleep apnea process can repeat hundreds of times a night, preventing your body from entering deep sleep and depriving it of much-needed oxygen. This can result in high blood pressure, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.


While snoring by itself isn’t dangerous, it can be a sign of sleep apnea, a more serious sleep condition. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep apnea—a serious sleep disorder that should be checked out by a health professional.

“Sleep apnea is extremely exhausting,” Robbins tells CNN. “These patients sleep and then they wake up over and over; then they are fighting sleep all day long because they’re so exhausted.” Robbins also notes that sleep apnea is under-diagnosed. “We believe it affects about 30% of the population, and around 10% are diagnosed,” she says.


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It’s well-established that although a cocktail may knock you out, alcohol also disrupts sleep by preventing you from achieving the important deep, restful phase of sleep. “It continues to pull you out of rapid eye movement and the deeper stages of sleep, causing you to wake up not feeling restored,” Robbins tells CNN.

Plus, if you already have a sleep problem, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or a parasomnia (such as sleepwalking or sleep talking), alcohol can heighten those disorders and make getting a good night’s sleep even more difficult.


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Not so. We sleep better in cooler temperatures. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation states that the ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

Studies show people with insomnia have a warmer core body temperature immediately before initiating sleep—and the brain responds well to cooler temps, making sleep easier for those who tend to have difficulty.

A new bed can help improve your sleep—but it turns out plenty of mattress myths exist too. Here are the most common mattress myths and why you shouldn’t fall for them.

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