23 May 2024
Having shoulder pain from sleeping? Learn five valuable tips on how to relieve shoulder pain caused by sleeping and wake up feeling pain-free.

Having shoulder pain from sleeping can be incredibly frustrating and disruptive to your daily routine. Waking up with discomfort and limited mobility in your shoulder can make it difficult to go about your day with ease. However, there are effective ways to relieve this pain and improve your sleep quality. In this article, we will share five valuable tips that can help alleviate shoulder pain caused by sleeping, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free.

5 Tips for Relieving Shoulder Pain from Sleeping

Table of Contents

Evaluate your sleeping position

Consider your current sleeping position

The first step in relieving shoulder pain from sleeping is to evaluate your current sleeping position. Pay attention to how you typically sleep and assess whether it may be contributing to your shoulder discomfort. Are you a side sleeper, a back sleeper, or a stomach sleeper? Each position can affect the alignment of your body and potentially strain your shoulder if not done correctly.

Try different sleeping positions

If you find that your current sleeping position is causing shoulder pain, it may be beneficial to try different sleeping positions. Experiment with sleeping on your back, side, or stomach to see which position provides the most relief for your shoulder. Keep in mind that the goal is to maintain proper alignment and minimize pressure on your shoulder joint.

Invest in a supportive pillow

Another factor to consider when evaluating your sleeping position is the type of pillow you use. Investing in a supportive pillow that adequately supports your neck and aligns your spine can help alleviate shoulder pain. Look for pillows that are specifically designed for shoulder pain relief or consider using cervical pillows, which are contoured to support the natural curve of your neck.

Use additional pillows for support

In addition to a supportive pillow, using additional pillows strategically can also provide support to your shoulder and help alleviate pain. Placing a small pillow or a rolled-up towel under your armpit while side sleeping can help keep your shoulder in a neutral position and relieve strain. Similarly, placing a pillow between your legs while sleeping on your side can help align your spine and reduce pressure on your shoulder.

Maintain proper posture throughout the day

Practice good posture during daily activities

Maintaining good posture throughout the day is crucial for shoulder health. Whether you’re sitting at a desk, driving, or standing, make a conscious effort to sit or stand up straight with your shoulders pulled back and relaxed. Avoid slouching or hunching forward, as this can put unnecessary strain on your shoulder muscles and joints.

Stretch and strengthen shoulder muscles

Regular stretching and strengthening exercises can help improve shoulder stability and reduce pain. Incorporate exercises that target the muscles around your shoulder, such as shoulder rolls, scapular squeezes, and wall push-ups. Stretching exercises that focus on the chest and shoulder area can also help relieve tension and improve flexibility.

Avoid carrying heavy bags on one shoulder

Carrying a heavy bag on one shoulder can contribute to shoulder pain and imbalance. Whether it’s a backpack, purse, or briefcase, distribute the weight evenly by using both shoulders or opting for a backpack with adjustable straps. If you need to carry a heavy load, consider using a rolling bag or seeking assistance to avoid straining your shoulder.

Use ergonomic workstations and chairs

Creating an ergonomic setup at your workstation is essential for maintaining proper posture and preventing shoulder pain. Ensure that your chair is properly adjusted to support your back and shoulders. Position your computer monitor at eye level to avoid hunching or straining your neck. Utilize wrist and arm supports if necessary to minimize stress on your shoulder while working.

5 Tips for Relieving Shoulder Pain from Sleeping

Modify your sleeping environment

Choose a suitable mattress

A supportive mattress can make a significant difference in relieving shoulder pain from sleeping. Opt for a mattress that provides adequate support for your body, particularly your shoulders. Memory foam or latex mattresses are known for their ability to contour to your body’s shape and provide pressure relief.

Adjust the height of your pillow

The height of your pillow can impact your shoulder’s alignment while you sleep. If you’re a side sleeper, ensure that your pillow is thick enough to keep your head and neck in neutral alignment with your spine. Back sleepers may benefit from a flatter pillow, while stomach sleepers might find it more comfortable with a thin or no pillow at all.

Use a warm compress before sleeping

Applying a warm compress to your shoulder before bedtime can help relax the muscles and reduce pain. The heat from the compress increases blood flow to the area, promoting healing and soothing discomfort. Use a warm towel or a heating pad on a low setting, making sure not to apply excessive heat that could cause burns.

Create a comfortable and calming atmosphere

Creating a comfortable and calming sleep environment can contribute to better sleep quality and help alleviate shoulder pain. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet to encourage a restful night’s sleep. Invest in a good-quality mattress, cozy bedding, and consider incorporating relaxation techniques, such as aromatherapy or white noise machines, to enhance your sleep environment.

Engage in regular exercise and physical therapy

Incorporate shoulder exercises into your routine

Regular exercise, including targeted shoulder exercises, can help strengthen the muscles around your shoulder joint, improve flexibility, and reduce pain. Consult with a qualified fitness professional or physical therapist to learn specific exercises tailored to your needs. Examples of beneficial shoulder exercises may include shoulder presses, lateral raises, and rotator cuff exercises.

Seek professional guidance from a physical therapist

If you’re experiencing persistent shoulder pain, seeking professional guidance from a physical therapist can be beneficial. They can assess your shoulder’s condition, provide targeted exercises and stretches, and guide you through proper movement patterns to alleviate pain and prevent further injury. A physical therapist can also recommend modalities like ultrasound or electrical stimulation to complement your treatment.

Strengthen surrounding muscles to support the shoulder

Building strength in the muscles surrounding your shoulder can help provide additional support and stability. Incorporate exercises that target the muscles in your back, chest, and core to improve overall posture. Strengthening these muscles can help distribute the workload more evenly and alleviate strain on your shoulder.

Avoid overexertion and strain during workouts

While exercise is essential for shoulder health, it’s crucial to avoid overexertion and strain during workouts. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercise routine, allowing your body ample time to recover. Listen to your body’s signals and modify or rest when necessary to prevent exacerbating existing shoulder pain.

5 Tips for Relieving Shoulder Pain from Sleeping

Apply heat or cold therapy

Use a heating pad for muscle relaxation

Applying heat to your shoulder can help relax muscles, increase blood flow, and alleviate pain. Use a heating pad set to a comfortable temperature and apply it to your shoulder for 15-20 minutes at a time. Ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid falling asleep with the heating pad still on.

Apply ice or cold packs to reduce inflammation

If your shoulder pain is accompanied by inflammation, applying ice or cold packs can help reduce swelling and numb the area. Wrap a cold pack or ice cubes in a cloth and apply it to your shoulder for 10-15 minutes at a time. Remember to use a barrier, such as a cloth, to protect your skin from direct contact with ice.

Alternate between heat and cold therapy

Depending on the nature of your shoulder pain, alternating between heat and cold therapy can provide additional relief. Start with heat therapy to relax the muscles, followed by cold therapy to reduce inflammation. You can repeat this cycle as needed, allowing at least 30 minutes between each session to give your skin time to recover.

Follow appropriate time and temperature guidelines

When using heat or cold therapy, it’s essential to follow appropriate time and temperature guidelines to avoid burns or other injuries. Always use a cloth or barrier between your skin and the heating pad or ice pack. Limit the duration of therapy sessions and take breaks if you experience any discomfort.

Practice relaxation techniques before sleep

Try deep breathing exercises

Engaging in deep breathing exercises before sleep can help relax your mind and body, reducing tension in your shoulders and promoting a more restful sleep. Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and take slow, deep breaths, focusing on filling your lungs with air and exhaling fully. You can also try counting your breaths or pairing your breaths with relaxing visualizations.

Practice meditation or mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness practices can help calm your mind and reduce stress, which can indirectly alleviate shoulder pain from tension. Set aside a few minutes before bed to sit quietly and focus on the present moment. Use guided meditation apps or videos if you need assistance in getting started.

Engage in gentle stretching or yoga

Gentle stretching or practicing yoga before bed can help release tension in your shoulders and promote relaxation. Focus on gentle shoulder stretches like shoulder rolls, arm crossovers, or doorway stretches. If you’re new to yoga or have specific concerns, consider taking a beginner’s class or following online tutorials designed for shoulder pain relief.

Create a pre-sleep routine to promote relaxation

Establishing a pre-sleep routine can signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for restful sleep. Incorporate activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques into your routine. Consistency is key, so try to follow your routine every night to condition your body and mind for better sleep.

Consider over-the-counter pain relief

Consult with a healthcare professional

Before taking any over-the-counter pain relief medications, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your specific situation, take into account any existing medical conditions or medications you’re taking, and provide guidance on the appropriate pain relievers for your shoulder pain.

Choose appropriate over-the-counter pain relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers can provide temporary relief for shoulder pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium can help reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort. Acetaminophen may also be effective in relieving pain but does not have anti-inflammatory properties.

Follow recommended dosage instructions

When taking over-the-counter pain relievers, it is vital to follow the recommended dosage instructions carefully. Taking more than the recommended amount can lead to adverse side effects and potential health risks. If you have any concerns or questions, consult with a healthcare professional or refer to the medication’s packaging for proper guidance.

Be aware of potential side effects and contraindications

While over-the-counter pain relievers can be effective, it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects and contraindications. Some medications may interact with certain medical conditions or other prescription medications you’re taking. Read the packaging information or consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that the pain relievers are safe for you to use.

Seek professional medical advice

Consult a healthcare provider for persistent or severe pain

If your shoulder pain persists or becomes severe, it is crucial to consult a healthcare provider for a comprehensive evaluation. They can identify any underlying issues or injuries that may be causing the pain and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Undergo diagnostic tests or imaging if necessary

To further assess the cause of your shoulder pain, your healthcare provider may suggest diagnostic tests or imaging, such as X-rays or an MRI. These tests can provide a clearer picture of your shoulder’s condition and help guide your treatment plan.

Follow recommended treatment plan or therapy

Based on the results of diagnostic tests and evaluation, your healthcare provider will recommend an appropriate treatment plan for your shoulder pain. This may include a combination of medication, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and possibly referrals to specialists such as orthopedic surgeons or chiropractors.

Consider options like physical therapy or chiropractic care

Depending on the nature of your shoulder pain, your healthcare provider may recommend physical therapy or chiropractic care as part of your treatment plan. Physical therapy can help improve strength, flexibility, and function in your shoulder, while chiropractic adjustments can align your spine and alleviate pressure on your shoulder joints.

Explore alternative therapies

Consider acupuncture for pain relief

Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice, involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and relieve pain. Some individuals find relief from shoulder pain through acupuncture sessions. Consult with a licensed acupuncturist to explore this alternative therapy for your shoulder discomfort.

Try massage therapy to release tension

Massage therapy can help relax tight muscles, improve blood circulation, and alleviate shoulder pain. A skilled massage therapist can target specific areas of tension and apply techniques that promote healing and release muscle knots. Consider scheduling regular massages or finding self-massage techniques that you can incorporate into your routine.

Investigate chiropractic adjustments

Chiropractic care focuses on aligning the spine and musculoskeletal system to promote overall health and alleviate pain. Chiropractors can perform adjustments to correct misalignments and reduce stress on your shoulder joints. If you’re considering chiropractic care, seek a reputable and qualified chiropractor who specializes in shoulder pain relief.

Explore holistic approaches like herbal remedies

Some individuals find relief from shoulder pain through holistic approaches, including herbal remedies. Herbal remedies such as arnica, turmeric, or ginger may have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain and inflammation. However, it’s crucial to consult with a qualified herbalist or healthcare professional before using any herbal remedies to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Practice preventive measures

Avoid sudden movements or jerking motions

To prevent exacerbating shoulder pain, be mindful of sudden movements or jerking motions that could strain your shoulder. Be cautious when reaching for objects, lifting heavy items, or engaging in activities that require repetitive shoulder movement. Slow, controlled movements can help protect your shoulder joints and reduce the risk of injury.

Use proper lifting techniques

When lifting objects, use proper lifting techniques to minimize stress on your shoulders and prevent injury. Bend your knees, keep the object close to your body, and engage your core muscles. Avoid lifting heavy objects above shoulder level whenever possible, as this can put excessive strain on your shoulders.

Maintain a healthy body weight

Maintaining a healthy body weight is crucial for overall joint health, including your shoulders. Excess weight places additional stress on your joints and can contribute to shoulder pain. Incorporate a balanced diet and regular exercise into your lifestyle to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

Take breaks and stretch during long periods of inactivity

If you find yourself in prolonged periods of inactivity, such as sitting at a desk or driving, make a conscious effort to take breaks and stretch your shoulders. Stand up, move around, and perform gentle shoulder stretches to prevent stiffness and promote blood circulation. Incorporating regular movement throughout your day can help prevent shoulder pain caused by immobility.

In conclusion, relieving shoulder pain from sleeping requires a comprehensive approach that addresses your sleeping position, posture, sleeping environment, exercise, therapy, and other holistic measures. By evaluating and modifying these various factors, you can alleviate shoulder pain, promote better sleep quality, and improve overall shoulder health. Remember, it’s essential to consult with healthcare professionals or experts in specific therapeutic areas to receive personalized advice and guidance for long-lasting relief.

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