Hemorrhoids pose various problems throughout your daily life. While rarely a serious health concern, they can be incredibly annoying and cause other issues with your health. Most notably, lots of patients state they can’t sleep because of hemorrhoids.
The pain and irritation stay in the back of your mind, making you feel too uncomfortable to relax and drift off. Thankfully, there are ways to combat this – and we will discuss how to sleep with hemorrhoids in the following article.
Overview of hemorrhoids
What are hemorrhoids?
The simple definition is that they are small lumps present inside your anus or lower rectum. From a more medical standpoint, they are swollen veins. Medical experts suggest they are similar to varicose veins, online on the inside of your rectum/anus. Sometimes, a hemorrhoid can swell so much that it pops out of the anus and is exposed, this is called a prolapsed hemorrhoid.
According to one research article from 2011, the majority of hemorrhoids can be managed without the need for operations. The same article also states that around 10 million Americans are affected by them every year.
What causes hemorrhoids?
It is currently theorized that any number of things can cause hemorrhoids. Some people point to excessive stress, but one review from 2012 indicated that the abnormal dilation and distortion of the vascular channel inside the rectum/anus is why hemorrhoids form. Commonly, this is because of excessive straining or pressure within this area of the body. Why might this happen? Constipation is strongly linked to hemorrhoids as it forces individuals to strain more as they try to push while going to the toilet. Holding in your poop is also another factor because your anal muscles are clenched for long periods and the pressure in the vascular channel builds up.
Moreover, pregnancy can be a leading cause of hemorrhoids as well. A lot of women will suffer from this issue while pregnant because of the various changes in the body. Often, pregnancy leads to constipation which can cause hemorrhoids. But, giving birth is also likely to cause them due to all the straining involved in the genital area. One study suggests that around 25-35% of pregnant women are affected by hemorrhoids.
How do you sleep with hemorrhoids?
Sleeping with hemorrhoids can be a problem because they cause so much irritation. You may feel a throbbing or pulsing sensation in your anus that’s hard to ignore, leading to lots of tossing and turning.
Likewise, itching and a sense of general discomfort/pain are two common symptoms that get worse at night. As a result, it is perhaps no surprise that multiple studies have found that sleep quality is poor in patients with hemorrhoids.
What can you do about this? Your best bet is to take a two-pronged approach:
- Relieve your symptoms before going to bed
- Learn the best way to sleep with hemorrhoids
How do you relieve hemorrhoid pain and discomfort at night?
Different methods can be used, but the best ideas are to either try a topical treatment or soak in an Epsom salt bath.
Epsom salt is made of magnesium sulfate, which has been used for centuries to treat lots of ailments. It is most known for aiding muscle cramps and soreness, with many theorizing that it reduces inflammation. Sitting in a warm bath with two tablespoons of Epsom salt before bed can soothe your hemorrhoids and reduce the swelling.
It is also wise to have a hemorrhoid cream handy. These creams often help by numbing the area to reduce your symptoms. In fact, a clinical trial in 2021 showed that individuals using hemorrhoid cream for three weeks saw improvements in symptoms when compared to a placebo group.
This should do a good job of calming your pain and irritation, so you find it easier to sleep at night.
What are the best sleeping positions with hemorrhoids?
Firstly, let’s look at the worst sleeping position – on your back.
Sleeping on your back can put more pressure directly on your anus, which leads to more symptoms.
Instead, the two best ways to sleep are as follows:
- Lying on your stomach
- Lying on your side with a pillow between your legs
Both positions take pressure off your anus and can help you sleep better.
How to treat hemorrhoids?
As mentioned above, two methods of treating hemorrhoids include:
- Epsom salt baths
- Hemorrhoid creams
You can also add two other topical home treatments to this list:
- Epsom salt paste
- Witch hazel solution
In terms of treatment from a doctor, most hemorrhoids will not require it. Often, adjusting your lifestyle has the biggest impact. You will recall earlier that hemorrhoids are mainly caused by excessive straining. As such, if you can find ways to stop this – such as eating a better diet full of fiber – then the problem should go away by itself over time.
When to see a doctor?
Nevertheless, if you try to treat your hemorrhoids and the problem doesn’t get better – or it gets worse – you should see a doctor. You might require alternative treatments that directly look at removing hemorrhoid or forcing it to shrink in size.
Furthermore, if your hemorrhoid is extra painful and bleeds a lot, you may have what is known as thrombosed hemorrhoids. This is when a blood clot forms, and while it still may not be serious, it is best to see a doctor just in case.
Get help from an online doctor
Instead of waiting around for the latest appointment at your doctor’s office, you can get immediate help from an online doctor today. Download the DrHouse app right now, and you can book a virtual consultation in minutes.
If you can’t sleep because of hemorrhoids, you need to focus on treating the symptoms and finding a more comfortable sleeping position. Topical home treatments and Epsom salt baths can ease pain and discomfort before going to bed. Avoid sleeping on your back to take pressure off your anus and enjoy a more comfortable night of rest. As always, contact a doctor if the symptoms persist for weeks or get progressively more severe.
- Mehdi Z, Fatemeh P, Roja R, Fatemeh H, Hamid Reza S, Jafar N, Mohammad Hosein F. Efficacy and safety of Hemoheal cream in patients with hemorrhoids: a randomized double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial. J Tradit Chin Med. 2021 Apr;41(2):301-307. PMID: 33825411.
- Erol Kisli, M.D., Mehmet Yucel Agargun, M.D., Rifat Inci, M.D., Tuncer Ozturk, M.D. Sleep Quality in Patients with Hemorrhoids . Sleep and Hypnosis 2003;5(4):188-191. Available from: http://www.sleepandhypnosis.org/ing/Pdf/b6d7e14cf6854222800c6e9ea942547d.pdf
- Arthur Staroselsky, Alejandro A. Nava-Ocampo, Sabina Vohra, Gideon Koren; Hemorrhoids in pregnancy, Canadian Family Physician Feb 2008, 54 (2) 189-190; Available from: https://www.cfp.ca/content/54/2/189.short
- Lohsiriwat V. Hemorrhoids: from basic pathophysiology to clinical management. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 May 7;18(17):2009-17. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i17.2009. PMID: 22563187; PMCID: PMC3342598.
- Caroline Sanchez , Bertram T. Chinn, HemorrhoidsClin Colon Rectal Surg 2011; 24(1): 005-013 DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.1055/s-0031-1272818
- Identifying and Treating a Prolapsed Hemorrhoid, Healthline. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/prolapsed-hemorrhoid