Can Sleeping Position Cause Shoulder Pain? Understanding the Connection between Sleeping Posture and Shoulder Discomfort

Do you ever wake up with shoulder pain? It’s not uncommon, but it’s definitely annoying. You might be wondering why it’s happening. Could it be something you’re doing while you’re asleep? In fact, the position you sleep in can cause shoulder pain. Who knew that something as simple as the way you sleep could lead to such discomfort?

But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Shoulder pain caused by sleeping position is a common complaint. It’s often the result of developing a repetitive strain injury (RSI), which can happen from repeating the same motion over and over again. Whether you’re a side sleeper, back sleeper, or stomach sleeper, your sleeping position can cause your shoulder to be in an awkward position for a prolonged period. Over time, this can cause aches, strains, or injuries.

If you’re a recent sufferer of shoulder pain, it may be time to take a closer look at how you’re sleeping. Changing your position may be all you need to do to find relief. So, let’s dive deeper into the connection between sleeping position and shoulder pain. We’ll explore the different sleeping positions and what you can do to keep your shoulder in a comfortable position while you sleep. With a few small tweaks to your nightly routine, you can say goodbye to morning shoulder pain for good.

Common sleeping positions that can cause shoulder pain

Did you know your sleeping position can contribute to your shoulder pain? Here are some common sleeping positions that may be causing your discomfort:

  • Side sleeping: Sleeping on your side can cause shoulder pain if you are placing too much pressure on your shoulder. This can happen if you are sleeping on a mattress that is too firm or too soft. When your mattress is too firm, it doesn’t contour to your body, resulting in pressure points. On the other hand, a mattress that is too soft can cause your body to sink in, reducing support for your shoulder.
  • Stomach sleeping: Sleeping on your stomach can also contribute to shoulder pain. When you sleep on your stomach, your head is turned to one side, and your arm is extended, which can lead to strain and discomfort in your shoulder. Additionally, this position can cause spinal misalignment, leading to back pain as well.

If you regularly sleep in these positions and experience shoulder pain, try adjusting your sleeping habits. You may benefit from sleeping on your back with a pillow to support your neck and another under your knees or a body pillow that allows you to sleep in a fetal position that relieves pressure on the shoulder.

How to relieve shoulder pain from sleeping

Waking up with shoulder pain can be a frustrating and painful start to your day. Shoulder pain from sleeping can be caused by a number of factors, such as sleeping position, underlying health conditions or injuries. Here are some ways to relieve shoulder pain from sleeping:

  • Adjust your sleeping position: Sleeping on your back is generally the best position to minimize pressure on the shoulders. If you prefer sleeping on your side, use a pillow that is thick enough to support your head and neck, but not so thick that it pushes your shoulder up towards your ear. Also, try placing a pillow in between your knees to align your spine correctly.
  • Use heat therapy: Apply a warm compress to your shoulder for 15-20 minutes to help ease pain and increase circulation. You can use a warm towel or a heating pad, but be careful not to apply excessive heat, as this can lead to burns.
  • Try cold therapy: If your shoulder pain is caused by inflammation, applying a cold compress or wrapping an ice pack around your shoulder for 15-20 minutes can help reduce swelling and numb any pain.

If your shoulder pain persists or worsens, it is important to seek medical attention. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy or other forms of treatment, depending on the underlying cause of your pain.

Technique Description
Stretching exercises Performing shoulder stretching exercises can help improve flexibility and range of motion, reducing the risk of injury and pain.
Massage therapy Massage can help reduce muscle tension and improve blood flow, leading to faster healing.
Pain medication If your pain is severe, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medication or prescription medication to help manage your symptoms.

By following these tips and seeking medical attention if necessary, you can alleviate shoulder pain from sleeping and get back to enjoying restful nights and pain-free mornings.

Best sleeping positions for those with shoulder pain

If you suffer from shoulder pain, it can be difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. The way you sleep can put pressure on your shoulder, exacerbating the pain and making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. However, there are some sleeping positions that may help alleviate your shoulder pain and help you get a better night’s sleep.

The three best sleeping positions for those with shoulder pain are:

  • Side Sleeping with a Pillow
  • Back Sleeping with Pillow Support
  • Stomach Sleeping with a Thin Pillow

Side Sleeping with a Pillow

If you prefer to sleep on your side, using a pillow to support your arm can help alleviate shoulder pain. Place a pillow between your arm and torso to keep your arm from falling forward and putting pressure on your shoulder. It’s also a good idea to place a pillow between your knees to help align your spine.

Back Sleeping with Pillow Support

Sleeping on your back can be a comfortable position for those with shoulder pain, but you may need some extra pillow support. Use a small pillow or rolled-up towel under your shoulder to keep it from rotating forward. You can also place a pillow under your knees to help take pressure off your lower back.

Stomach Sleeping with a Thin Pillow

Sleeping on your stomach may not be the best position for those with shoulder pain, but if it’s your preferred position, there are some adjustments you can make. Use a thin pillow or no pillow at all under your head to keep your neck in a neutral position. You can also tuck a small pillow or rolled-up towel under your arm to help align your shoulder.

In conclusion

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for managing shoulder pain. By trying out different sleeping positions and using pillows for support, you can find the position that works best for you. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you continue to experience shoulder pain, as it may be a sign of an underlying condition.

Sleeping Position Pros Cons
Side with Pillow – Helps align spine
– Can alleviate shoulder pain
– Comfortable for most people
– Can cause neck pain if pillow is too thick
– May be uncomfortable for those who are used to sleeping on their stomach or back
Back with Pillow Support – Can alleviate shoulder pain
– Helps align spine
– Comfortable for most people
– May not be comfortable for those who are used to sleeping on their side or stomach
– May cause lower back pain if pillow under knees is too thick
Stomach with Thin Pillow – Can alleviate shoulder pain if pillow is used to support arm
– Comfortable for some people
– Can cause neck pain if pillow is too thick
– Puts strain on lower back

Remember, everyone’s body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to experiment with different sleeping positions and pillow support to find what works best for you.

The importance of pillow and mattress choice for shoulder pain

How you sleep at night can impact your health and wellbeing in a variety of ways. When it comes to shoulder pain, in particular, your sleeping position and the type of pillows and mattresses you use can have a significant impact on your comfort and overall health.

Pillow Selection

  • Choosing the right pillow can make a significant difference in preventing or relieving shoulder pain. A pillow that is too high or too flat can cause your neck to bend unnaturally, leading to shoulder pain.
  • Consider your sleeping position before purchasing a pillow. Side sleepers need a firmer pillow to maintain proper alignment between their shoulders and neck. Back sleepers, on the other hand, need a flatter pillow to avoid straining their neck and shoulders.
  • Memory foam pillows are an excellent choice as they conform to the shape of your neck, providing necessary support and preventing your head from tilting in any direction.

Mattress Selection

Like pillows, the type of mattress you choose can also affect your shoulder pain. A good mattress should support your spine while keeping your neck, shoulder, and hips aligned.

  • The optimal firmness of a mattress depends on your sleeping position. Side sleepers need a mattress that cushions and conforms to their body closely while supporting pressure points, whereas back sleepers require a firmer surface that offers better lumbar support.
  • Innerspring mattresses may be too firm, and foam mattresses may be too soft for side sleepers with shoulder pain, leading to discomfort and pain. A hybrid mattress that combines the benefits of both the materials may be the ideal choice in such cases.


In addition to the pillow and mattress selection, add-ons such as mattress toppers and body pillows can also offer better comfort and support, especially to side sleepers.

  • A mattress topper with memory foam technology can provide added pressure relief to your hips and shoulder areas, making it a great choice for individuals with shoulder pain.
  • Body pillows are an excellent addition for side sleepers who experience shoulder pain. They help keep the spine aligned and prevent shoulder compression while sleeping, reducing the risk of shoulder pain.


Pillow Selection Mattress Selection
Choose a pillow based on your sleeping position. Choose a mattress that provides lumbar support and conforms to your body.
Memory foam pillows are a great option. A hybrid mattress can combine the benefits of different materials.
Firmness should match your sleeping position. Innerspring and foam mattresses may not be the ideal choice.

To alleviate and prevent shoulder pain, you must consider your sleeping position, pillow and mattress selection, and add-ons. Remember to purchase a pillow and mattress that provides enough support, cushioning, and pressure relief to your shoulders, neck, and spine. By doing so, you can enjoy a better sleep, wake up feeling refreshed, and avoid persistent shoulder pain.

Exercises to prevent shoulder pain from sleeping

If you experience shoulder pain from sleeping, there are exercises you can do to prevent it. These exercises aim to stretch and strengthen the muscles that support your shoulders. Here are some exercises you can try:

  • Doorway stretch: Stand in a doorway with your hands on the doorway frame at shoulder height. Step forward with one foot and lean forward until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.
  • Shoulder blade squeeze: Sit or stand with your arms by your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times.
  • Rotator cuff stretch: Lie on your side with your affected shoulder on the bottom. Bend your top arm at the elbow and place your hand on your chest. Use your other hand to gently push the affected arm down towards your feet until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have pre-existing shoulder injuries or pain. These exercises may not be suitable for everyone and modifications may be necessary.

In addition to these exercises, maintaining good posture throughout the day can also help prevent shoulder pain from sleeping. Make sure to sit and stand with your shoulders back and down, and avoid slouching or hunching forward. Lastly, investing in a supportive pillow can also help keep your shoulders in a neutral position while you sleep.

Exercise Reps/Sets Benefits
Doorway stretch 2-3 reps, 15-30 sec hold Stretches chest and shoulders, improves posture
Shoulder blade squeeze 10-15 reps Strengthens upper back muscles, improves posture
Rotator cuff stretch 2-3 reps, 15-30 sec hold Stretches rotator cuff muscles, improves shoulder mobility

The Link Between Posture and Shoulder Pain During Sleep

Do you often wake up with shoulder pain? It could be due to the position you sleep in.

  • Sleeping on your side: If you sleep on your side with your arm up, the weight of your upper body can compress the shoulder joint and lead to pain. This position can also cause the muscles in the chest and shoulder to shorten and tighten, which can lead to further discomfort. To prevent shoulder pain, try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your shoulder.
  • Sleeping on your stomach: Sleeping on your stomach can cause your shoulder to rotate forward and pinch the tendons in your rotator cuff. This position also puts pressure on your neck and spine. If you can’t sleep any other way, try placing a pillow under your hips to reduce the strain on your neck and shoulders.
  • Sleeping on your back: Sleeping on your back is generally the best position to prevent shoulder pain. However, if you don’t have the right pillow or mattress, you may still experience discomfort. Make sure your pillow supports your neck and your mattress is firm enough to keep your spine straight.

If you frequently experience shoulder pain during sleep, it’s important to address the issue to prevent further damage to your shoulder joint and muscles.

Here are a few tips to improve your sleeping posture:

  • Use a pillow that supports your neck and keeps your spine aligned. A pillow that is too high or too low can cause strain on your shoulders and neck.
  • Place a pillow under your knees if you sleep on your back or between your knees if you sleep on your side. This can help keep your spine aligned.
  • Avoid sleeping on a soft mattress, which can cause your body to sink and lead to poor spinal alignment. Opt for a firm mattress that keeps your spine in a neutral position.

If your shoulder pain persists, make sure to consult a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Position Advantages Disadvantages
Sleeping on your side Reduces snoring and sleep apnea, improves digestion Can cause shoulder and hip pain, can worsen arthritis
Sleeping on your stomach Reduces snoring and sleep apnea Can cause neck and back pain, misaligns the spine
Sleeping on your back Reduces acid reflux, prevents wrinkles on face and chest Can cause snoring, worsen sleep apnea, may worsen asthma symptoms

Overall, the link between posture and shoulder pain during sleep is clear. By adopting proper sleeping posture and using appropriate support, you can prevent shoulder pain and ensure a good night’s sleep.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Shoulder Pain from Sleeping

While most cases of shoulder pain from sleeping can be treated with home remedies or lifestyle changes, there are certain situations where it’s important to seek medical attention. Here are seven scenarios where you should contact your doctor if you experience shoulder pain:

  • If the pain is severe and persistent, and it’s interfering with your daily activities or sleep
  • If you have difficulty lifting your arm or moving it in any direction
  • If your shoulder feels weak or numb
  • If you notice any swelling or bruising around the affected area
  • If you have a history of shoulder injuries or conditions, such as arthritis or tendonitis
  • If you experience pain that travels down your arm or neck, or tingling sensations in your fingers
  • If your pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, chills, or unexplained weight loss

If any of these scenarios apply to you, it’s important to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Delaying treatment could lead to further complications and a longer recovery time.

FAQs about Can Sleeping Position Cause Shoulder Pain

1. What sleeping positions can cause shoulder pain?

Sleeping on your side with your arm under your pillow or on your stomach with your arm extended above your head can cause shoulder pain.

2. Why do these sleeping positions cause shoulder pain?

These sleeping positions put pressure on your shoulder joint and compress the nerves and blood vessels, leading to pain and discomfort.

3. How can I prevent shoulder pain from sleeping positions?

You can prevent shoulder pain by sleeping on your back with a supportive pillow, using a body pillow between your legs for added comfort, or switching up your sleeping positions throughout the night.

4. Can a bad pillow cause shoulder pain?

Yes, a bad pillow can cause shoulder pain. It can cause improper neck alignment and put pressure on your shoulder joint.

5. Should I see a doctor if I have shoulder pain from sleeping positions?

If your shoulder pain persists or worsens, it’s best to see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

6. Can stretching help relieve shoulder pain from sleeping positions?

Yes, stretching can help relieve shoulder pain. Simple shoulder stretches or yoga poses can help stretch out the muscles and improve mobility.

7. How long does it take for shoulder pain from sleeping positions to go away?

The length of time it takes for shoulder pain to go away depends on the severity of the pain and the individual’s ability to heal. Generally, mild shoulder pain from sleeping positions should go away within a week or two.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for taking the time to read about how sleeping positions can cause shoulder pain. Remember, with a few adjustments you can prevent shoulder pain and sleep more comfortably. We hope this article was helpful and please visit us again soon for more informative content!

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