Skip to main content

How Your Sleeping Positions Affect Your Shoulders

How Your Sleeping Positions Affect Your Shoulders

You open your eyes in the morning as the light comes through your windows. Then it hits you: pain in your shoulders. You quickly scan your memory and can’t come up with any reason for your stiff, sore shoulders. Could the way you sleep be causing your shoulder pain?

Our doctors and staff at Atlantic Orthopaedic Specialists want to help you get a good night's rest. We know that certain sleeping positions can put extra strain on your shoulders and leave you stiff and sore in the morning.

Let’s discuss a few common sleeping positions and how to make each one a little more comfortable and supportive for your shoulders.

Sleeping on your back

This position is the best for your shoulders, neck, and spine. Unfortunately, only 8% of people report sleeping on their back. It may take a little work to get used to this position, but once you do, you’ll feel the benefits. Here are a few tricks for getting a good night’s sleep without shoulder pain in the morning.

Side sleeping with arms out

Side sleeping is the most commonly reported sleep position. It’s the second-best position for spine health, but it can create some issues for your shoulders. Side sleepers often report pain in one or both shoulders.

If you’re a side sleeper, here are a few tips to help lessen shoulder pain:

Fetal position

This is the most popular sleep position, with about four in 10 adults reporting this as their position of choice. Most people sleep in a loose fetal position, which is on your side with your knees bent and your upper body kind of hunched over. Lying in the fetal position may help you fall asleep, but it can cause pain, especially if you have arthritis.

Try these tricks to keep your shoulders supported:

Stomach sleeping

Sleeping on your stomach offers little to no support for your shoulders, and can leave them unstable and hurting. So if you’re a stomach sleeper and find yourself waking each morning to pain and stiffness, it’s probably time to try a new snoozing position.

Sleeping like a starfish

If you sleep on your back with your hands above your head, you’re bound to have shoulder pain. This position puts pressure on the nerves in your upper back and might leave you with numbness and tingling in your arms and hands.

The good news with this position is that you’re already a back sleeper. Try keeping your arms down by your sides or folded across your chest to better support your shoulders. You can also place pillows under your shoulders to provide the needed support and comfort.

If you’re having shoulder pain, try the above tips for getting a better night's sleep. If changing your sleeping position doesn’t help, the pain wakes you up at night, or causes you discomfort during the day, it may be something more than the way you sleep. If that’s the case, we can help. Give us a call at our location closest to you to schedule an appointment with one of our shoulder specialists.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Ream and Run Shoulder Replacement Success...x2!

I enjoy sharing this story because it is a testament to patient's who are seeking a solution to shoulder arthritis who want to remain highly active. I am grateful for patients like Fred who give me the opportunity to improve their overall quality of life!