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Varicose veins on a woman's leg with a background of veins.

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How to sleep with varicose veins?

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Sleep plays a crucial role in the overall health and well-being of people. With the average person spending one-third of their life sleeping, you want to do all you can to ensure you are getting the best night’s sleep that you can.

Several medical conditions, like varicose veins, can disrupt sleep due to an increase in discomfort. This Polysleep blog post offers information on sleeping positions for varicose veins that may help you to sleep better.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins or spider veins are enlarged veins that protrude from the skin further than normal. They can occur anywhere in the body but are commonly seen in the legs.

For most, spider veins are not a major medical condition, but they can create additional pressure in the legs making it hard to get comfortable and may lead to more serious health concerns.

Mild cases of varicose veins mimic a spider web appearance; hence the name spider veins. They are often red or blue and their obvious appearance can cause embarrassment for the person experiencing them.

What causes varicosities?

Varicose veins are often caused by prolonged periods of sitting or standing. A vein acts as a one-way ticket for blood to move towards the heart but when the valve inside of the vein begins to fail, the blood is unable to exit the vein efficiently.

Varicosities are the direct result of an increase in pressure inside a superficial vein from improper blood flow. When the blood begins to pool inside the vein it becomes enlarged and very uncomfortable.

How are varicose veins removed?

Spider veins, while not always a major health concern, create significant pressure that can disrupt a person’s daily living.

Varicose veins on a woman's leg.

There are a few options for removing varicose veins including:

  • Sclerotherapy is performed by a doctor injecting specialized liquid, often concentrated saline, directly into the vein irritating the vein. Over time, the vein will collapse and be absorbed by healthier blood vessels surrounding it.
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy involves the removal of a vein through small incisions along the enlarged vein. A doctor will insert a hook-like surgical tool into the incisions and remove the vein.
  • Laser surgery destroys varicosities through high-intensity laser beams.
  • Surgical ligation and stripping is a common technique used to remove a varicose vein through a small incision in the skin or by cutting off blood supply to the vein. Surgical ligation is often only used in severe varicose vein cases.

Do varicose veins hurt more at night?

Varicose veins are caused by long periods of immobilization, whether it be standing or sitting for long periods of time without movement.

At night, our bodies are still to facilitate sleep. However, this immobile time leads to blood pooling inside of veins due to venous insufficiency or improper venous blood flooding.

This can worsen aches from an irritated vein and cause shooting pains in the leg or restless leg syndrome making the pain seem worse at night.

How to sleep with varicose veins?

Without adequate sleep, we are subject to worsening mental and physical health problems. Sleeping with varicose veins can be difficult, but it is not impossible.

Health professionals recommend:

  • Elevate your legs with a pillow with adjustable layers or a bed wedge pillow. Elevating the legs above heart level will reduce the pressure inside superficial veins in the legs to reduce symptoms associated with varicose veins and keep blood flowing as it should.
  • Wear compression stockings. Compression stockings maintain pressure on the legs, ankles, and feet to keep blood flowing in an appropriate direction throughout the body.
  • Apply heat with a heating pad or take a warm bath before bed. This can loosen the muscles in your legs. This will prevent muscle tightening that can constrict blood flow.

Best sleeping position for varicose veins

Millions of people around the world sleep on their backs or stomachs to maintain comfort throughout the night, but what is the best sleeping position when dealing with varicosities?

Experts recommend those with varicose veins to sleep on their left side with adequate pillow support to maintain spinal alignment.

The vena cava, located on the right side of the body, is the body’s largest vein. It is responsible for pumping blood from the furthest parts of the body back to the heart. By sleeping on your left side, pressure on the vena cava is reduced to promote healthy blood circulation and decrease the risk of pooling.

Frequently asked questions

How are varicose veins treated on the legs?

Varicose veins in the legs that have not caused major health concerns, like occluded blood flow, are treated with non-invasive options like regular exercise, avoiding wearing tight clothing, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding sitting or standing without movement for long periods of time.

Can varicose veins appear overnight?

Spider veins are less serious than protruding varicose veins. However, these web-like veins may appear overnight and can cause discomfort.

Can you put anything on varicose veins?

Compression stockings are the most recommended item for managing varicose veins. These stockings maintain direct pressure throughout the feet, ankles, and legs to promote healthy blood flow and prevent blood from pooling inside of a vein. It is also recommended to apply heat to prevent muscle tightness that can constrict blood flow.

Which exercise is best for varicosities?

Low-impact exercises like brisk walking, swimming, or biking are most recommended for varicose veins. These types of exercises are not hard on the joints and are designed to increase blood flow, improve circulation, and maintain a healthy heart.

How can I sit to avoid varicose veins?

Sitting for long periods of time will decrease circulation and increase the chance of blood pooling within a vein. Sitting with your legs elevated using a bed wedge pillow as often as you can improve circulation.

How to calm down varicose veins?

The most effective way to calm symptoms associated with varicose veins is to partake in regular low-impact exercise, avoid long periods of being immobile, and elevate your legs above heart level as often as you can. Compression socks are recommended as they apply evenly dispersed pressure. Conversely, tight clothing can constrict blood flow.

How much does treatment for varicose veins cost?

Treatment for varicose veins is often covered by most major insurance companies. The exact amount of coverage will vary based on your plan. For those whose insurance does not cover treatment for varicosities, it can cost several thousand dollars, but the relief that comes with treatment is priceless.

Varicose veins on a woman's leg lying on a bed.

Takeaway

It’s believed 3.7 million Canadians have varicose veins, yet many do not seek treatment due to many reasons which ultimately lead to an impact on sleep. At Polysleep, our sleep specialists understand the impact poor sleep can have on your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Because of this, we strive to provide safe, comfortable sleep equipment to help you sleep better night after night.

Spider veins, or varicosities, can lead to poor sleep quality due to increased discomfort with longer periods without movement throughout the night. Health professionals report decreased pain when the legs are elevated above the heart level. At Polysleep, we have created the perfect customizable pillow with adjustable foam layers for whatever needs you may have, in addition to our popular wedge pillow.

Backed by a 30-night risk-free sleep trial and the CertiPUR-US certification, you can enjoy healthy sleep risk-free for up to 30 nights to determine if our adjustable pillow is right for you.

Our products are made with antimicrobial foam to ensure healthy sleep and have no added chemicals, toxins, or ozone depleters, and are closely monitored by Consumer Product Safety Commission Low Volatile Organic Compounds to ensure indoor air quality is safe for consumers. Sleep is critical to our overall health, so why sleep on a mattress with chemicals that will leave you exposed to unregulated toxins? Get healthier sleep today with Polysleep.

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