How To Have A Painless Sleep When You Have A Broken Rib!

There is real danger to physical injury when you travel! PNG is no exception. And although the limbs seem to be the frequent sites where people have fractures, you will be surprised how easily the ribs can be broken! I broke my ribs while studying in Japan (I broke my ribs from playing rugby, not from studying!) and gave my tips on my first blog: and it was from this website that I started, hosted by Check out their hosting plans.


But back to my tips, below is the original article I wrote in 2004.


Did I say I have broken rib? I think I did in one of my previous posts. My left 11th rib is fractured. I sustained the injury during a rugby match on last week Sunday. The good thing was we won!

Having a broken rib is very painful. Coughing, breathing, turning or twisting to reach something are all made with an effort. To make matters worse, my one year old son once in while runs into my affected side or kicks the left side of my chest in a playful mood and I have to scream in agony.  

The most agonising is when trying to sleep. Every movement, either turning to the left or right brings out the most excruciating pain. So this week has been a tough sleep week for me. I think I am suffering from a bit of insomnia too. The good thing to come out of my experience this week is – I now know how to sleep with less pain! And want to give you some tips to reduce your pain level when you have a broken rib (which I hope you don’t) and want to have peaceful sleep with less pain.

CAUTION!! This information is un-researched data and has been tested on one case study only – me. Seek your doctor’s advice before following any of my tips.

Get a rib strap from your doctor first. It has a synergistic effect. Here is how you can sleep with less pain when you have a broken rib:

  1. Make sure your one year old child sleeps first. I tried to sleep first and got kicked at the injured site. He taught it was play time because it was what we do before I put him to sleep.
  2. The most comfortable position is to lie on the back. Actually the best would be to not to sleep at all – standing – but beware. Lack of sleep for over 48 hours results in psychiatric symptoms, notably hallucinations.
  3. Next best position is to sleep on the unaffected side.
  4. The third best position to sleep when you have a broken rib is to lie on your stomach.

How to reduce pain while turning during sleep.

  • From back position to side position: slowly swing your arm on the affected side to the side you wish to move to and rest your forearm in parallel with your body and with your arm supporting your body at an angle. This movement will enable you to face the side you are turning to.
  • Next, turn your whole body slowly to the direction you are facing by turning your shoulders. Do not turn from the waist. This will result in a painful twist!
  • Finally, move the leg that you are not sleeping on up into your chest slightly.
  • The final position is somewhat like the coma position. With you sleeping on the unaffected side.
  • From this position you can easily move to sleep on your belly with much less pain.

The next sequence of movements is when trying to stand up from sleeping. The best approach is to do it from a belly sleeping position.

  • From sleeping on your belly and trying to stand up: Move your hands closer to your body as if trying to do a push up. Lift your body by extending your elbows. Your forearms should be supporting your body in the position as if trying to do a push up.
  • Next, draw your legs under you body and sit up on your feet. Much like how the Japanese sit in their traditional homes with feet folded under their feet.

By the way do not use a pillow. If you do, use a soft one, but you might end with a painful neck in the morning. The angle created by your head lying on a pillow pulls on the chest muscles and causes pain on the affected side.

So there it is. My tips on how to sleep with less pain if you happen to have the unfortunate experience of having one of your ribs fractured