18 May 2024
Alleviate shoulder pain caused by poor sleeping posture with simple techniques and adjustments. Say goodbye to sleepless nights and wake up pain-free!

Are you tired of waking up with shoulder pain every morning? If so, you’re not alone. Shoulder pain caused by poor sleeping posture can be a frustrating and debilitating issue. However, there are simple steps you can take to alleviate this discomfort and start your day off on the right foot. In this article, we will explore effective techniques and adjustments that can help relieve shoulder pain, allowing you to enjoy a restful night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free. Say goodbye to those sleepless nights and hello to a healthier, happier you!

How to Alleviate Shoulder Pain from Poor Sleeping Posture

Table of Contents

Understanding Shoulder Pain from Poor Sleeping Posture

If you’ve ever woken up with aching shoulders, you may be familiar with the discomfort caused by poor sleeping posture. Your sleeping position can significantly impact your shoulder health and contribute to pain and stiffness. Fortunately, there are several common causes of shoulder pain that can be easily addressed and alleviated with the right techniques. In this article, we will explore the common causes of shoulder pain, identify the right sleeping position, discuss exercises and stretches for relief, provide tips for improving sleep ergonomics, offer advice on improving your sleeping habits, and outline when it may be necessary to seek professional help. By understanding and addressing the root causes of shoulder pain from poor sleeping posture, you can take steps to prevent discomfort and promote better sleep.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain

Sleeping on your stomach

Sleeping on your stomach is a common culprit for shoulder pain. This position puts strain on your neck and forces your shoulder to rotate, leading to discomfort and potential joint compression. When you sleep on your stomach, consider switching to a different position to relieve the pressure on your shoulders.

Sleeping on your side with inadequate support

Many people find sleeping on their side to be comfortable, but without proper support, this position can also contribute to shoulder pain. If the mattress is too soft or your pillow does not provide enough support, your shoulder can sink and get strained. Investing in a supportive pillow and mattress can make a significant difference in alleviating shoulder pain caused by sleeping on your side.

Using an unsupportive pillow

Using the wrong pillow can cause or exacerbate shoulder pain. Ideally, your pillow should keep your neck aligned with your spine, providing support to your head and shoulders. If your pillow is too high or too flat, it can put unnecessary strain on your shoulders and contribute to discomfort. Consider finding a pillow that suits your anatomy and provides appropriate support.

Sleeping with your arm under your pillow

While tucking your arm under your pillow may feel cozy, it can lead to shoulder pain. This position can cause compression of the nerves and blood vessels in your shoulder, leading to numbness, tingling, and discomfort. It’s best to keep your arms relaxed and by your side while sleeping to avoid unnecessary pressure on your shoulders.

Sleeping in a cramped space

If you’re sharing a bed with a partner or sleeping in a narrow space, you may find yourself in awkward sleeping positions that strain your shoulders. When your body is forced into constrained positions, it can lead to muscle tension and joint misalignment. Creating a sleep environment that allows for ample space to move freely can help prevent shoulder pain caused by sleeping in cramped quarters.

Sleeping on a mattress that is too firm or too soft

A mattress that is either too firm or too soft can contribute to shoulder pain. If your mattress is too firm, it may not provide enough cushioning for your shoulders, causing discomfort and pressure points. On the other hand, a mattress that is too soft can cause your shoulders to sink too deeply, leading to misalignment and strain. It’s essential to find a mattress that offers the right balance of support and cushioning for your shoulders.

How to Alleviate Shoulder Pain from Poor Sleeping Posture

Identifying the Right Sleeping Position

The right sleeping position can make a significant difference in alleviating shoulder pain. While personal preference plays a role, some positions are generally more favorable for shoulder health than others.

Sleeping on your back

Sleeping on your back is often considered the best position for overall spinal alignment and shoulder health. When you sleep on your back, your weight is evenly distributed, reducing strain on your shoulders. To enhance the benefits of this position, place a small pillow under your knees and use a supportive pillow that cradles your head and keeps your neck aligned.

Sleeping on your side

If you prefer sleeping on your side, it’s crucial to maintain proper alignment to prevent shoulder pain. Use a supportive pillow that fills the gap between your shoulder and your neck, keeping your spine neutrally aligned. Placing a pillow between your knees can also help maintain your body’s alignment while sleeping on your side.

Finding the appropriate pillow and mattress

Regardless of your sleeping position, finding the right pillow and mattress is essential for shoulder health. Experiment with different pillow and mattress options to determine what provides the best support and comfort for your shoulders. Consider factors such as pillow loft, firmness, and material, as well as the level of support and cushioning provided by your mattress.

Maintaining proper alignment

Whether you sleep on your back or side, maintaining proper alignment is crucial for shoulder pain relief. Avoid sleeping with your shoulders hunched or your neck twisted. Instead, aim for a neutral spine and relaxed shoulders. You can use pillows or properly positioned support pillows to help maintain alignment and prevent unnecessary strain on your shoulders.

Exercises and Stretches for Shoulder Pain Relief

In addition to adjusting your sleeping position and optimizing your sleep setup, exercises and stretches can provide further relief for shoulder pain caused by poor sleeping posture. Here are some exercises and stretches you can incorporate into your routine:

Shoulder rolls

Shoulder rolls are a simple but effective exercise for relieving tension in the shoulder muscles. To perform shoulder rolls, sit or stand with your arms relaxed by your sides. Gently roll your shoulders backward in a circular motion, then reverse the direction. Repeat this exercise for several sets, aiming to relieve muscle tightness and promote shoulder mobility.

Pendulum swings

Pendulum swings help improve shoulder mobility and relieve stiffness. Stand with one hand on a table or chair for support. Let your other arm hang down freely. Swing your arm back and forth gently, allowing it to swing naturally like a pendulum. This exercise can help increase the range of motion in your shoulders and provide relief from discomfort.

Wall stretches

Wall stretches are a great way to stretch the muscles in your shoulders and chest. Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall at shoulder-height, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lean forward, keeping your feet flat on the ground, until you feel a gentle stretch in your shoulders and chest. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat several times.

Chest stretches

Tight chest muscles can contribute to shoulder pain. To stretch your chest muscles, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and interlace your fingers behind your back. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades together as you straighten your arms and lift your hands away from your body. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat as needed.

Shoulder blade squeeze

The shoulder blade squeeze exercise helps strengthen the muscles in your upper back, providing stability and support to your shoulders. Sit or stand with your arms relaxed by your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together while keeping your arms down. Hold the squeeze for a few seconds, then release. Repeat this exercise several times to improve shoulder muscle strength.

Arm circles

Arm circles are a simple yet effective exercise for improving shoulder mobility and relieving tension. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms straight out to the sides at shoulder height. Make small circles with your arms, gradually increasing the size of the circles. After a few rotations, switch directions. Perform this exercise for several sets, aiming to loosen up your shoulder muscles.

Doorway stretch

The doorway stretch is a useful stretch for opening up the chest and stretching the shoulders. Stand in a doorway and place both hands on the door frame at shoulder height. Step forward slightly, allowing your chest to open up as you lean forward. You should feel a gentle stretch in your shoulders and chest. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat as needed.

Remember that exercising and stretching should be done gently and within your comfort zone. If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop the exercise and consult a healthcare professional.

How to Alleviate Shoulder Pain from Poor Sleeping Posture

Improving Sleep Ergonomics

In addition to adjusting your sleeping position and incorporating exercises and stretches, improving sleep ergonomics can further alleviate shoulder pain caused by poor sleeping posture. Consider the following tips:

Investing in a good quality pillow

A good quality pillow can make a world of difference in your sleep comfort. Look for a pillow that provides adequate support and alignment for your head, neck, and shoulders. Consider your sleeping position and personal preferences when choosing a pillow and opt for one that suits your needs.

Choosing the right mattress

Just like with pillows, the right mattress is essential for proper sleep ergonomics. Invest in a mattress that offers the right balance of support and comfort for your body. Consider factors such as firmness, materials, and your specific sleeping needs. Keep in mind that mattress preferences can vary, so take the time to find one that suits you best.

Using additional support pillows

If your shoulders require extra support, using additional pillows can help maintain proper alignment. For example, placing a small pillow under your knees when sleeping on your back can help alleviate strain on your shoulders. Experiment with different support pillows to find the positioning and support that works best for you.

Adjusting your sleeping environment

Creating a sleep environment that promotes relaxation and comfort is crucial for relieving shoulder pain. Ensure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark to foster a conducive atmosphere for sleep. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine to block out any distractions that may disrupt your sleep.

Optimizing room temperature

The optimal room temperature can contribute to a more comfortable sleep environment. It’s generally recommended to keep your bedroom cool, around 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit (15-19 degrees Celsius). Adjusting your room temperature and using breathable bedding can prevent overheating and promote better sleep quality.

How to Improve Your Sleeping Habits

In addition to addressing the physical aspects of poor sleeping posture, improving your sleeping habits can also contribute to better shoulder health. Here are a few tips to help you achieve restful sleep:

Establishing a regular sleep schedule

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes healthy sleep patterns. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This routine can help improve the quality and duration of your sleep, reducing the likelihood of shoulder pain.

Creating a comfortable sleep environment

Make your sleep environment as comfortable as possible. Invest in comfortable bedding, such as high-quality sheets and blankets, that make you look forward to crawling into bed. Keep your bedroom clean and free of clutter to create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere conducive to sleep.

Practicing relaxation techniques before bed

Engaging in relaxation techniques before bed can help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep. Consider incorporating activities such as reading, listening to soothing music, taking a warm bath, or practicing gentle yoga or meditation. These activities can promote relaxation and reduce muscle tension in your shoulders, contributing to a restful sleep.

Avoiding stimulants before sleep

Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Avoid consuming these substances, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. Instead, opt for herbal tea or other calming beverages to help relax your body in preparation for sleep.

Implementing a nighttime routine

Establishing a nighttime routine signals to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Create a routine that suits your preferences and includes activities that help you relax. This could involve reading a book, journaling, practicing gentle stretches, or engaging in any other calming activities that help you transition into a restful sleep.

Seeking Professional Help for Chronic Shoulder Pain

While adjusting your sleeping habits and incorporating self-care techniques can often provide relief from shoulder pain caused by poor sleeping posture, there may be instances when professional help is necessary. Here are some situations when seeking assistance from a healthcare professional is recommended:

When to consult a healthcare professional

If your shoulder pain persists or worsens despite implementing lifestyle changes, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your condition, provide a proper diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options. Additionally, seek medical attention if your shoulder pain is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, such as weakness, numbness, difficulty moving your arm, or severe pain.

Visiting a physical therapist

Physical therapy is a viable option for individuals with chronic shoulder pain. A physical therapist can assess your shoulder mobility, strength, and muscle imbalances. They can then design a personalized exercise and stretching program to target your specific needs and help alleviate your pain. Working with a physical therapist can provide long-lasting relief and help prevent future shoulder problems.

Exploring alternative medicine options

Some individuals may find relief from shoulder pain through alternative medicine approaches such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, or massage therapy. These practices focus on addressing underlying imbalances in the body and promoting natural healing. If you’re interested in exploring alternative medicine options, consult with qualified practitioners who specialize in shoulder pain and can provide appropriate treatment.

Considering medical interventions

In severe cases of shoulder pain that do not respond to conservative measures, medical interventions may be necessary. This could include corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation, regenerative therapies to promote tissue healing, or in extreme cases, surgical intervention. If your shoulder pain significantly affects your quality of life and does not improve with other treatments, consult with a healthcare professional to discuss potential medical interventions.

Preventing Shoulder Pain from Poor Sleeping Posture

Prevention is key when it comes to shoulder pain caused by poor sleeping posture. By implementing the following preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of experiencing shoulder discomfort:

Maintaining good posture throughout the day

Maintaining good posture throughout the day can alleviate stress on your shoulders and help prevent pain. Whether sitting, standing, or engaging in physical activities, be mindful of your posture and aim for proper alignment. Avoid slouching or hunching your shoulders forward and take breaks to stretch and relax your muscles periodically.

Incorporating daily exercise and stretching routines

Regular exercise and stretching can help strengthen the muscles supporting your shoulders and improve flexibility. Engage in activities such as swimming, yoga, or strength training exercises that target the muscles in your shoulders and upper back. Additionally, incorporate stretching routines into your daily regimen to maintain flexibility and prevent muscle tension.

Using proper body mechanics during daily activities

Be mindful of your body mechanics during daily activities to avoid unnecessary strain on your shoulders. Whether lifting heavy objects, reaching for items, or performing repetitive tasks, use proper techniques to protect your shoulder joints. Lift with your legs, not your back, and avoid repetitive motions that put excessive stress on your shoulders.

Regularly evaluating and adjusting your sleep setup

Regularly evaluate your sleep setup and make adjustments as needed. Check the condition of your pillow and mattress to ensure they are still providing adequate support. Consider replacing them if they have worn out or are no longer suitable for your needs. Additionally, reassess your sleeping position and make any necessary modifications based on your comfort and shoulder health.

Listening to your body’s signals

Pay attention to your body’s signals and adjust your sleeping posture if you experience discomfort or pain. Your body knows best, so if a specific position or pillow is causing shoulder pain, it’s essential to listen to those cues and make changes accordingly. Trusting your body’s feedback can help you find a sleeping position that promotes comfort and reduces the risk of shoulder pain.


Shoulder pain from poor sleeping posture is a common issue that can significantly affect your sleep quality and overall well-being. By understanding the common causes of shoulder pain, identifying the right sleeping position, incorporating exercises and stretches, improving sleep ergonomics, and developing healthy sleeping habits, you can effectively alleviate shoulder pain and prevent future discomfort. Additionally, know when it’s time to seek professional help if your shoulder pain persists or worsens. Prioritize your shoulder health and invest in practices that promote proper posture and support for a good night’s sleep. With the right knowledge and proactive measures, you can wake up refreshed and free from shoulder pain caused by poor sleeping posture.

About The Author