Shoulder pain from sleeping is very common because the shoulder is a complex part of the body that’s especially sensitive to pain and inflammation from uneven pressure during the night.
You must find a way to limit stress on your shoulders both day and night, but this can be hard to do because this joint manages the movement of your arms, which are in constant use during the day and constantly in the way during the night.
Shoulder pain from sleeping happens because you concentrate the weight of your body one side or the other during much of the night. That’s why so many people wake up with a stiff arm – and a feeling that they didn’t sleep well. The pain from one or both shoulders causes them to wake up during the night or toss and turn.
You Must Limit Pressure If You Sleep On Your Side
Most people sleep on their sides despite the pressure it puts on your shoulders. If you sleep on your side – which is often healthy for your back – evenly distributing the pressure on your shoulder can make a real difference in reducing inflammation and eliminating pain.
Your best choice is a side sleeper pillow with 4 or 5 inches of support, depending on how broad your shoulders are. (See some side sleeper pillows on Amazon.) These pillows redistribute the weight on your shoulder so that the trapezium and arm experience gentler pressure than if you sleep with a standard thin pillow.
If you’re a back sleeper, congratulations. You’re putting very little pressure on your shoulders, but there are other stresses placed on your body from being a back sleeper. You may still experience shoulder pain from sleeping or experience other kinds of pain if you use the wrong pillow. Many experts recommend a wedge pillow for back sleepers with an incline of 18 to 23 degrees.
When your body gets the benefit of a good night’s sleep, your body has time to repair itself, undoing much of the damage you do during the day. When you don’t sleep well, chronic joint pain in your back, legs and arms is likely. If you wake up tired or hurting in any way, there are things you could be doing to encourage and enhance your sleep.
Sleep Position Questions And Answers
When you understand how sleep position contributes to shoulder pain from sleeping and other concerns, you can take the right actions to sleep better and feel better too. Here are some common questions about sleep position and their answers:
Is it okay to sleep on my back?
In many cases, you can eliminate shoulder pain from sleeping by learning to sleep on your back. This can cause other problems, however, including pressure on your spine from too much arching of your lower back. Sleeping with the right kind of incline pillow for back sleepers and putting one or more pillows under your knees can help you achieve healthy positioning.
Is it okay to sleep on my side?
Side sleeping is very common, and it usually keeps the spine in relatively good alignment. To prevent shoulder pain from sleeping on your side, make sure your pillow is thick enough to reduce pressure on your shoulder and prevent your head from tilting too far to the side. Just remember not to curl up very much so that you can maintain relaxed, neutral positioning of the spine.
Should I sleep with a pillow between my knees?
Sleeping with a pillow between your knees is a smart idea to keep your spine and pelvis in optimal alignment and to reduce strain on your knees. It won’t help much with shoulder pain from sleeping on your side, but it’s still a good idea for many people.
You Don’t Have To Tolerate Shoulder Pain
Whether during the day or at night, you don’t have to suffer from shoulder pain. In fact, using the right pillow and taking the right actions during the night can help you wake up pain-free. And that can allow you to remain pain-free all day long too. So many aches and pains during the day can be traced to bad habits and bad situations at night.
Shoulder pain from sleeping can keep you awake and make the day unpleasant in a lot of ways. But you can prevent or reduce this kind of pain and feel better overall when you analyze how the problem is happening and make some simple changes in how you sleep.