How To Sleep With Shoulder Pain At Night? Causes & Treatments

How To Sleep With Shoulder Pain At Night Causes & Treatments

How to sleep with shoulder pain at night? There are effective ways: 

Finding a better sleeping position, using a different pillow, considering a smart mattress, sticking to a sleep schedule, performing stretches for shoulder pain at night, avoiding sleeping on your stomach, avoiding sleep on the side that hurts, and talking to a pain doctor about interventional therapies.

Please read on for more detailed information.

Issues Associated With Shoulder Pain At Night

In addition to their pain, most people who sleep with shoulder pain at night also have trouble sleeping, which has its own unique set of issues. These can include:

  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Low energy
  • Mood disorders

The vicious cycle of less sleep and more pain that results from insomnia will only exacerbate your condition.

Causes Of Shoulder Pain When Night

Although there are numerous shoulder conditions that can cause pain, rotator cuff tendinitis is the most typical cause of shoulder pain at night. It typically results from irritation of the shoulder tendons, which produces pain and inflammation. There are numerous potential causes of this condition, including:

  • Tears
  • Poor posture
  • Overexertion
  • Repetitive work injuries
  • Aging

Millions of people in the United States are known to suffer from rotator cuff tendinitis. each year and is a major cause of shoulder pain when sleeping.

Other causes of shoulder discomfort at night include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Shoulder dislocation

Why, despite the fact that it might be fine during the day, does the pain worsen at night?

Why Do I Experience Shoulder Pain At Night?

Even though there are times when this sleep with shoulder pain at night cannot be explained, it mostly stems from:

  • Being still at night
  • Unrelieved tension and stress from the day
  • The sleeping position you choose
  • Your mattress

While you are vertically positioned throughout the day, the shoulder is actively used. Gravity pulls the tendons downward as they contract, creating space between the shoulder muscle groups. The stiffness and pain that would otherwise exist are reduced thanks to the increased blood flow and oxygen provided by the extra space.

When you lay down to rest or sleep at night, you are generally in a horizontal position. This removes the effect of gravity and allows the shoulder muscles to relax. The lack of movement and the relaxation of the muscles allows the fluids in your joints to settle and decreases the flow of blood, allowing the joint to become inflamed. People also frequently sleep with their shoulders on the ground, which worsens the inflammation by compressing the joint even more.

How To Sleep With Shoulder Pain At Night?

Finding A Better Sleeping Position

Finding a comfortable sleeping position is the first step in treating sleep with shoulder pain at night. Most people typically toss and turn during the night, but if you land incorrectly, it could irritate your shoulder. Avoiding this pain while sleeping on the opposing shoulder is possible, but avoid sleeping on your back.

If the pain persists, you can always try wrapping your arm or wearing a sling to assist in preventing movement during sleep. You can lessen any resulting back pain by sleeping with a pillow under your knees.

Using A Different Pillow

You might think about switching pillows if you are sleeping with shoulder pain.

A recent study of Korean adults, aged 20–76 years, finds that peanut-shaped pillows provided the best shoulder comfort. These U-shaped pillows have different heights to support your head and neck.

Additionally, studies show that latex and memory foam pillows can ease shoulder discomfort and improve sleep.

According to the study, using a thicker pillow while you sleep on your side could help with shoulder pain by providing better head and neck support.

Considering A Smart Mattress

A variety of technological products are listed by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) as ways for people to better understand their sleep patterns. A smart mattress falls under this category because it has built-in sensors that can detect your sleeping position.

The NSF continues by describing one kind of intelligent mattress that can adjust its firmness automatically in response to your changing sleeping positions. You can also manually change the level of pressure and support based on your preferences or pain relief needs.

Sticking To A Sleep Schedule

Always be sure to make an effort to adhere to a sleeping schedule in addition to correcting your position while you’re sleeping with shoulder pain. Good sleep hygiene can make all the difference in your sleeping patterns. In terms of lowering stress and tension and enhancing sleep duration and quality, having a regular bedtime ritual that helps you wind down at the end of the day can work wonders.

Read about: Can Sleep Apnea Kill You? Yes! – My Space Beds

Try taking a relaxing shower before bed, and make sure you go to sleep in a room without any electronics. You can also take medication to aid in sleep, but you should use them sparingly. Constantly requiring sleep aids can be a major sign of a problem and the more you use over-the-counter drugs, the more you will need to be effective. In addition, if you’re using other medications, they may react poorly to the sleep aids.

Performing Stretches For Shoulder Pain At Night

It can also be beneficial to exercise a few hours before bed because it will improve blood flow throughout the entire body. This can reduce pain while also calming you down enough to improve your sleep. Try a low-impact activity like a brisk walk or a bike ride, and then give your body time to cool down again before going to bed.

Additionally, some shoulder stretches can help you release the tension and stress that have accumulated throughout the day. Shoulder stretches are not only a simple solution, but they also only require a short amount of time at night. Stretching has huge health benefits like increasing flexibility, range of motion, and blood flow. The fact that they are easy to perform at home and don’t call for specialized tools is another major benefit. Before you go to bed, try these seven shoulder stretches to alleviate some tension and reduce your stress.

How To Sleep With Shoulder Pain At Night Causes & Treatments
How To Sleep With Shoulder Pain At Night? Causes & Treatments

Avoiding Sleeping On Your Stomach

If you frequently sleep on your stomach, this may be causing some of your symptoms. A 2018 study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders finds an association between primarily sleeping on the stomach with the arms up and symptoms of shoulder pain.

UC San Diego Health advises using a thin pillow to lessen the angle of your neck while you sleep if you prefer to sleep on your stomach. In order to help your spine align, they also advise placing a pillow under your pelvis.

Avoiding Sleep On The Side That Hurts

If you tend to sleep on your side, you might find that you naturally roll over to that side, even if it hurts.

To keep your affected shoulder elevated while you sleep, the Arthritis Foundation advises placing a thick pillow under the arm. Additionally, it advises back sleepers to put pillows under each arm or sleep on a wedge that keeps their upper body at a 45-degree angle.

Talking To A Pain Doctor About Interventional Therapies

It might be time to consult a pain specialist if these natural remedies fail to relieve your shoulder pain at night. They can aid in pinpointing the source of your shoulder pain. They may suggest interventional pain treatments if your pain isn’t the result of an acute injury or fracture.

These remedies for nighttime shoulder pain comprise:

  • Physical therapy to increase flexibility and reduce pressure on your joint
  • Chiropractic care to increase mobility and loosen tension
  • A regimen of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
  • Joint injections that can relieve nerve irritation
  • Surgery, but only for the most severe cases of shoulder pain at night

A joint injection offers a minimally invasive treatment option without surgery if more conservative therapies like physical therapy or chiropractic adjustments have failed.

Advice On How To Sleep With Shoulder Pain At Night

The good news is that you can take steps on your own to stop the cycle of pain and sleep. With lifestyle adjustments and perhaps medication, you should be able to resume getting a full night’s sleep.

The best way to manage shoulder pain at night is to change your sleeping position; if you typically lie on the side that is hurt, this will make your shoulder pain worse. Some patients try laying on the opposite shoulder but even this can cause the affected shoulder to flop forward or backward and exacerbate pain.  When you lie on your back and drift off to sleep, the affected shoulder may move backward, which can irritate it. Those who lie on their front frequently do so with their arms up and hands above their head, but this is a bad position for your shoulders to be in for a prolonged period of time, especially if they are already in pain.

By supporting or relieving the burden on the injured shoulder, pillows can occasionally help you achieve a better sleep position. 

When Should You Visit A Doctor?

Schedule a visit with your doctor if you experience shoulder pain while you’re awake or while you’re sleeping, which is:

  • sudden or severe
  • persistent, lasting more than a few weeks
  • disruptive to your day-to-day life, including your sleep
  • accompanied by weakness or a loss of motion
  • associated with an injury


So, do you understand how to sleep with shoulder pain?

Numerous conditions, such as osteoarthritis or shoulder injuries, can cause chronic shoulder pain. Sleeping may be difficult if your shoulder hurts.

Making some changes to your sleep routine can help improve your symptoms and allow you to get quality rest. These include not sleeping on your stomach, supporting your shoulder with pillows, considering technology such as a smart mattress, and practicing good sleep habits.

If your symptoms do not improve with these changes, talk with a healthcare professional. Options for treating your shoulder pain can be discussed. They might also recommend you to other experts who can assess your condition and aid in reducing your symptoms and enhancing the quality of your sleep.

  • August 15, 2022