Hi! I'm 4 weeks colostomy postop and am having difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position. I'm used to sleeping on my left side but now the stoma/appliance keeps me from rolling on that side, plus I'm scared to squish the bag. I'm tired of sleeping on my back..... Anyone have any tips or suggestions? I'll try anything to get some real sleep.

Thx for listening!



Does take time to heal. My Ostomy is on my left side. Took about 2 months post op before I could lay comfortably on that side.

I gave up my bed and sleep on a couch. Mostly sleep on my right side, sometimes my back. Couch prevents me from turning over during the night and squishing my stoma and bag. Couch also supports my back while on my side. I use a sheet, blanket, and bedspread on the couch. Works real well. The weeks after surgery were very uncomfortable for me. As I've regained strength, it's easier to get comfortable.

Make sure you maintain good hydration.




I bought a boppy body pillow (not the nursing one ). I move around a lot in my sleep so it kept me in an area. You can roll over on the none ostomy side and keep moving the side of the pillow around til you get into a comfortable position.

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Hi Moe

I sleep on both sides and back. You're brand new to this, when your insides heal and calm down you might just find you have more options than you first thought. Have you tried a pillow under the back of your knees or with your upper body on a slight incline to get a little more comfortable, a pillow between your legs when laying on your side can give a little stability too.


Axl gives good advice. It takes time. I used to be a stomach sleeper. My colectomy surgery and resulting complications left me with an ileostomy on my right side and JP drains in both my left abdomen and right chest cavity. The chest drain was removed while I was still in the hospital, but the abdomen drain remained and I also had a TPN in my left shoulder. In addition, I had a sore on my tailbone that prevented me from laying on my back. All this left me with only being able to sleep only on my right side. I used to use a pillow between my legs to help keep me on my sign. About a month after release from the hospital, I was able to get rid of both the JP drain and the TPN. This opened up my left side for sleeping. I was elated. The biggest problem after that was getting used to switching sides by rolling over on my back instead of the stomach. That is still awkward, but I am used to it. So, I now sleep mostly on my left side, but also spend time on the right.

Give it time. We may all be different, but barring physical limitations, we are all trainable. Even old coots like me. I am 7.5 months post-surgery and I am quite used to the way I sleep now. In fact, it is actually beneficial. Sleeping on my stomach was a source of sometimes excruciating pain in the mornings. So, silver linings are everywhere. :-)


Living with Your Ostomy | Hollister

For me, I was a belly sleeper before my ileostomy- I am now a side sleeper and occasionally I sleep flat out on my belly...if there is a bit of air in the bag (almost always is) it's like a bubble wrap for my stoma and my ConvaTec bags with clip have never leaked....and I have no discomfort doing this - I've been an ostomate for almost 3 years and I probably didn't do this in the beginning but rather after I had completely healed.

This site has so much to offer in terms of answering questions and sharing personal experiences and information. jb


You guys are the best!! Thank you for responding couch and pillows, deff gonna try that!! I have a lot to learn and very much appreciate the info and tips!


Hi Auntie,

You have options. The couch works, as does a recliner. You can also do what I did.....which is buy a firm or extra firm 3" or 4" memory foam mattress topper (closed cell foam is the best). Lay on it on your stomach and have someone trace our where your bag hits the foam. Then with an electric knife simply cut out an area about an inch or so bigger than your bag outline. Then you can sleep on your stomach without worrying about your bag getting squished when you sleep or when you roll over on it.


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For me, memory foam sucks. My arthritis and fascitis keep me tossing and turning. Memory foam becomes very uncomfortable very quickly. I've always envied my wife in this regard. She goes to sleep on her back and wakes up in the same position in the morning. Shameful! :-)nDaniel

I bought a big C shaped pregnancy pillow on Amazon. It keeps me from going all the way onto my stomach and provides options for sleeping on my back . I love it!


Hello Auntie, 

And if all the above fails, I set my alarm for about 4 hrs into my sleep so I can empty, or at least check if I need to.  It may take some time but it will all work out. 

Best of Health, 



When I started out I had a couple of ordinary pillows and started on my left (stoma on my right) and wedged the pillows behind me so I could lie back into the pillows but stay on my left. You can make it so it feels lovely and snuggly and luxurious and like you're being taken care of. Also, have a towel nearby so if your bag comes loose you have a chance of containing things.

With an ileostomy I usually get up 2-4 times in the night to empty my bag. I changed from a huge bag because it was so heavy and uncomfortable when it filled up - & I'm 5' so it hung a bit low for me. I've tried to develop and attitude of mind that it's OK to wake up, wmpty bag - while 1/2 asleep, get back into bed and zzzz. At first I set my alarm every few hours until I trained my body to wake me up when my bag needs emptying. I think key is to accept that your life has changed and your habits will change. Don't fight it or resent it - that just makes sleeping more difficult.

Have a look at the 4 stages of sleep. Stage 3 is when tissue repair and regrow happens. Which is important recovering from surgery. Stage 4 is REM, deep sleep, when dreams and memories form - so we process what's gone on during the day/ the past - the cognitive side of things, I guess, processing trauma. Stages 1-4 repeat during the night. The first lot of REM starts 90 minutes in. I've only just come across this - so I don't have full information. There are watches that will record how much sleep you have in each stage and the quality of your sleep. That's if you can wear a watch full time.

And you can catch up during the day. I think hour around midday is the most useful to health - that's the current thinking (in the UK).



After I had surgery last year, sleep positions were difficult. Now that all has healed and output normalized more, most positions work to sleep. Even on my left side. Time heals many things. My best to you.



Hi, I learned to sleep in a nest of pillows some firm and some soft until I could sleep on my left side. It was probably 2 months before I was healed enough to comfortably sleep on the left but digestion and everything got better when I was able to. 2 years later, I still sleep surrounded by pillows if I need them but laying on the Ostomy while I sleep. 

Moana is an inny though so everything lays flat until I have output which makes the left side ok to sleep on.  I've only had one accident and now I roll the end of my bag up in 2 folded squares of toilet paper and tuck it into my underwear at bedtime to prevent the end catching and undoing the velcro closure in my sleep. Good luck!


Can you try sleeping on your other side? It might work better for you for a while, then when you are a few months along she can try that side carefully. If you have a body pillow you can use that propped under half of your body, so you are tilted but not completely on your side. I sleep on the side where my stoma is located and on my other side. But it took me a few months before I could do that comfortably. Sometimes I sleep on the opposite side. If I sleep in the side my bag/stoma is on, I get into position then reach down and make sure the bag is not under me. My situation might be a bit different from yours though, my stoma is on my right side but it is up and a little more to the right center of abdomen. Not low and near the outside.


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