Should You Sleep with a Compression Bandage on Your Ankle?

Most people know that a compression bandage helps the injured ankle heal quicker. However, most are unsure if sleeping with the compressed bandage on is fine.

Should you sleep with a compression bandage on your ankle? If you want a solid answer, it would be a no. The compression bandage is meant to move excess fluid away from the affected area, which also means that the flow of fluid into the area would be restricted.

This, of course, means that blood flow, which is necessary for nourishment, is reduced. So, you don’t want the area to be compressed for an extended period, especially while you’re dozed off for eight hours.

Ankle Compression Bandage

Why You Shouldn’t Sleep with a Compression Bandage On

In general, you should avoid sleeping with compression bandages whenever you injure your ankle. The reason is that these bandages serve to remove fluid that has built up because of the injury.

These bandages are called compression bandages because they do exactly as the name implies, they compress. Aside from pushing fluid out of the area, they also limit fluid that can come in, which is why they reduce swelling. This is the reason why you shouldn’t have them on for too long. Even though they have a positive role in healing, this can turn into a negative thing if not utilized properly.

Compression bandages are usually cheap and can even be found in supermarkets. The NexSkin Elastic Compression Wrap (view on Amazon) is one of the great brands that you can get, especially for sensitive skin with its latex-free and cotton-made material. Its velcro grip at the end is also very convenient as you don’t have to worry about the metal clasp versions.

How Compression Bandages Work

Bandage Gauze

When an ankle injury occurs, the cells in the affected area become damaged. This, therefore, results in a weak structure. Just imagine a table breaking one of its legs. If there is no full support, the rest of the legs will struggle to hold the table up.

When we hurt our ankle, our brain responds by sending a lot of fluid to the area to remove the damaged cells, as well as to restore new ones. Because the structure would have been compromised, fluid leakage will also result, as in fluids would flow in different directions that they’re supposed to. This is why ankles swell up.

When you apply a compression bandage, the affected area squeezes out excess fluid and helps it to flow away from the injured site and preventing an unnecessary build-up of fluid.

How Long Compression Bandages Should Be On

Leaving a bandage on for an extended period may sound like a very beneficial thing, but, like with most things, too much of something can become a negative. While compression bandages reduce swelling, in turn, they also restrict fluid from coming in. This is the reason why medical experts advice to not have them on for a long time and to take them off when it’s time to sleep.

Exactly how long they should be on for is dependent on the severity of the injury. Typically, you leave the bandage on during the times you’re not applying ice. You need to make sure that you pay attention to how your toes feel and look like while the bandage is on. If they start to feel numb or begin to look blue, then you might want to loosen the wrapping or remove it for a moment to let the blood flow through properly.

The RICE Technique

Most often, ankle injuries are not fatal or severe. After all, an ankle injury is so common that people don’t think much about them anymore. But, if they do happen, there is a simple DIY technique that anyone can apply at home and that even children can learn easily.

Rest

The first thing that you should always do after hurting your ankle is to stop what you’re doing. Taking pressure off is to prevent it from receiving further damage. If possible, you should find a spot to sit or lay down at so that you can rest the ankle comfortably.

Rest your ankle by not placing any load or burden on it for at least two days. You should also find a way to protect it from being bumped into or hit. The NYOrtho Boot Heel Protector Cushion (view on Amazon) is a perfect item to give your ankle injuries the protection it needs, as well as the healing it requires as it is made of materials and is designed to promote the healing process. It is very adjustable to any size feet and comes with a free gel pack for extra comfortable support or to act as an ice pack.

Ice

Applying ice or something cold on the ankle injury will help to reduce the swelling. A cold compress will also prevent the ankle from swelling any further. Cellular activity within the ankle is slowed down by the cold temperature.

You can utilize an ice pack or a cold pack of vegetables, but usually, anything cold can work just as well. If you’re going to use ice, you should wrap it in a towel first; otherwise, the ice directly on the skin will be too cold and may cause more damage, even frostbite.

When you’re applying the ice, only do it for 10-20 minutes within a 2-3 hour interval, which you continue to do for up to two days. Of course, you can stop earlier if the swelling goes down or keep going if the swelling continues. You should always observe the progress of your injury so that you can adapt according to your needs.

Compression

The next step is to add compression by placing a compression bandage around the ankle. Whenever you’re not applying ice, your ankle should be wrapped up tightly, though comfortable. You want the bandage to be firm, and it should be too firm than too loose because you can always adjust the pressure later on.

Remember, pay attention to your toes and how your ankle feels so that you can know when to remove the bandage to give sufficient blood flow to the area. You want to leave the bandage on for as long as you need to control the swelling or reduce the ankle’s movement. When applying ice, you don’t always have to remove the bandage first. It depends on the material and the ice.

Elevate

Finally, the last step is to elevate your affected leg. You can rest your leg on anything, such as a table, desk, or chair. What’s important is that your leg raises above your heart level. The pressure reduces from the area, which can result in reduced pain, throbbing, and also swelling.

When you go to sleep at night, find a way to elevate your leg, such as placing a comfortable pillow under the calf or heel if this doesn’t feel too painful. Elevation alone should be enough to keep swelling at bay during the night so that you can take your bandage off at this point until the next morning.

The Importance of First-Aid

Having a first-aid kit nearby can be a useful thing, especially if things ever go south. You never know what kind of treatment you’d need after an accident, especially if you have children who play sports often.

The Delta Provision Waterproof First Aid Kit (view on Amazon) is a top choice, mostly due to it being waterproof. So, you can take it literally wherever you go. In fact, the bag can even float on water, which can be very convenient if an injury happens in the pool. It also has three separate compartments that easily folds out to give you a straightforward display and access to your first-aid supplies.

If you’re just after a first-aid bag and want to pack your own supplies, then the Jipemtra First Aid Bag (view on Amazon) is handy and straightforward. It is meant for hand-carry and light-travel with its two separate compartments on each side having multiple slots.

Conclusion – Should You Sleep with a Compression Bandage on Your Ankle?

Now you know how to treat an ankle injury. Most importantly, you now know that you shouldn’t sleep with a compression bandage on as this can cause more harm than good to your injured ankle. Having an understanding of the RICE method will certainly help you to apply first aid whenever the need arise and help you to better care for your fragile feet. If you need some help falling asleep or taking your mind off the pain of an ankle injury, you could read this article on, Is it Safe to Sleep with Airpods?

Although ankle injuries are very common, not being able to walk is quite a big pain in the butt, so make sure you consult your doctor if it’s your first time having one or if the pain seems to be unbearable. Otherwise, you’d be dealing with two pains, one on your feet and the other on your “butt”!

Kris Peter

I am a lifelong advocate of sleep, continually learning, and striving to be better than I was yesterday.

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