20 July 2024
Say goodbye to back and shoulder pain after sleeping! This article provides remedies and techniques to find relief and wake up pain-free.

Have you ever woken up from what should have been a restful night’s sleep, only to be greeted with an unwelcome ache in your back and shoulders? If so, you’re not alone. Back and shoulder pain after sleeping is a common issue that many people face, but the good news is that there are simple remedies to help alleviate this discomfort. In this article, we’ll explore some effective techniques to find relief and ensure you wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free. Say goodbye to those morning aches and say hello to a comfortable night’s sleep!

Relief for Back and Shoulder Pain after Sleeping

Choosing the Right Mattress

Firmness level

When it comes to choosing the right mattress for back and shoulder pain relief, one of the most important factors to consider is the firmness level. A mattress that is too firm can put excessive pressure on your pressure points, causing discomfort and pain. On the other hand, a mattress that is too soft may not provide enough support for your spine, leading to improper alignment and exacerbating your pain. It’s essential to find a mattress with a medium firmness level that strikes a balance between comfort and support.


In addition to firmness, the level of support provided by a mattress is crucial for alleviating back and shoulder pain. Look for a mattress that offers adequate support for your body, particularly in the areas that need the most help, such as the lower back and shoulders. A mattress with good support will help maintain the natural alignment of your spine, reducing pressure on your muscles and joints while you sleep.


The material of your mattress can also make a significant difference in relieving back and shoulder pain. Different materials, such as memory foam, latex, and innerspring, offer varying levels of support and comfort. Memory foam, for example, conforms to the contours of your body, providing excellent pressure relief and spinal alignment. Latex mattresses tend to be more resilient and offer a good balance of comfort and support. Innerspring mattresses, on the other hand, provide a bouncier feel and are often praised for their breathability. Consider your personal preferences and consult with a mattress expert to determine which material will best suit your needs.

Pillow-top or memory foam

Some mattresses come with additional features like pillow-tops or memory foam layers. Pillow-top mattresses have a cushioned top layer that provides extra comfort and softness. These can be beneficial for individuals with back and shoulder pain, as they offer additional pressure relief. Memory foam mattresses, on the other hand, contour to the shape of your body, reducing pressure points and promoting proper spinal alignment. Both options can be effective in providing relief, so consider which one aligns with your preferences and needs.

Testing mattresses

When choosing a mattress, it’s crucial to test it out before making a final decision. Take advantage of mattress stores that allow you to lie down on the mattresses to get a feel for them. Spend enough time on each mattress, changing positions to see how it supports your back and shoulders. This hands-on approach will give you the best idea of which mattress is the most comfortable and supportive for you.

Proper Sleeping Positions

Back sleeping

Sleeping on your back can help maintain the natural alignment of your spine, which is crucial for relieving back and shoulder pain. When sleeping on your back, it’s important to use a pillow that is not too high or too flat. Aim for a medium-sized pillow that adequately supports your neck and keeps your head aligned with your spine. You can also place a small pillow under your knees to reduce pressure on your lower back.

Side sleeping

For individuals who prefer to sleep on their side, it’s important to choose a pillow that keeps your head and neck in a neutral position. Look for a pillow that is firm enough to keep your head aligned with your spine, but also soft enough to provide comfort. Additionally, placing a pillow between your knees can help maintain proper spinal alignment and alleviate pressure on your hips and lower back.

Stomach sleeping

While sleeping on your stomach is not the ideal position for back and shoulder pain relief, it may be necessary for some individuals. If you must sleep on your stomach, try using a thin pillow or no pillow at all to avoid straining your neck. It’s also important to use a mattress that provides enough support to prevent your lower back from sinking into the mattress, which can lead to discomfort and pain.

Pillow positioning

Aside from choosing the right pillow, proper pillow positioning plays a significant role in relieving back and shoulder pain. When sleeping on your side, position the pillow so that it supports the natural curve of your neck and keeps your head in alignment with your spine. If you’re a back sleeper, place the pillow under your neck and upper back, allowing it to support the natural curvature of your spine. Remember to adjust your pillows regularly to maintain proper alignment throughout the night.

Relief for Back and Shoulder Pain after Sleeping

Using Supportive Pillows

Orthopedic pillows

Orthopedic pillows are specially designed to provide support and promote proper spinal alignment. These pillows often have unique shapes that contour to the curves of your body, providing targeted support to alleviate back and shoulder pain. Whether you’re a back, side, or stomach sleeper, there is an orthopedic pillow available to suit your needs and help you sleep comfortably.

Cervical pillows

Cervical pillows are designed specifically to support the cervical spine, which is the uppermost portion of your spine made up of the neck. These pillows typically have a curved shape that cradles your neck, promoting proper alignment and reducing strain on the muscles and joints. Cervical pillows can be particularly beneficial for individuals who experience neck pain or stiffness during sleep.

Body pillows

If you find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night, a body pillow may be the solution. Body pillows provide full-body support and can be beneficial for individuals with back and shoulder pain. By hugging the pillow or placing it between your legs, you can maintain proper spinal alignment and relieve pressure on your muscles and joints. Body pillows come in various shapes and sizes, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Pillow height and firmness

The height and firmness of your pillow are also important considerations for back and shoulder pain relief. A pillow that is too high can strain your neck and lead to discomfort, while a pillow that is too low may not provide enough support. Aim for a pillow height that keeps your head and neck aligned with your spine. Additionally, consider the firmness of your pillow – a medium-firm pillow is generally recommended for individuals with back and shoulder pain, as it provides adequate support without being too rigid.

Mobilizing and Stretching

Neck stretches

Stretching your neck can help relieve tension and reduce pain in the back and shoulder areas. Some simple neck stretches include gentle side-to-side head rotations, tilting your ear towards your shoulder, and rolling your neck in a circular motion. Remember to perform these stretches slowly and without any jerking motions to avoid injury.

Shoulder rolls

Shoulder rolls can help alleviate muscle tension and improve mobility in the shoulders. Start by sitting or standing up straight with your arms relaxed at your sides. Roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion, gradually increasing the size of the circles. After a few rotations, reverse the motion and roll your shoulders backward. Repeat this exercise several times throughout the day to keep your shoulders loose and alleviate any discomfort.

Upper back extensions

To stretch your upper back and relieve tension, try performing upper back extensions. Begin by standing upright and clasping your hands together in front of you. Extend your arms forward, then lift them overhead while keeping them straight. As you lift your arms, arch your upper back slightly and look up at the ceiling. Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise a few times to stretch your upper back.

Spinal twists

Spinal twists are an excellent way to increase flexibility and relieve tension in the back. Begin by sitting on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Place your left hand on your right knee, then gently twist your upper body to the right. Use your hand to support the twist and hold the position for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side, alternating back and forth several times. Remember to perform the twist slowly and without jerking motions.

Hamstring stretches

Tight hamstrings can contribute to back and shoulder pain. To stretch your hamstrings, start by standing near a wall or sturdy object for support. Place your left foot on a slightly elevated surface, such as a step or footstool. Keeping your back straight, gently lean forward from your hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your left leg. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Performing hamstring stretches regularly can help improve flexibility and reduce tension in the back and shoulders.

Relief for Back and Shoulder Pain after Sleeping

Strengthening Exercises for Back and Shoulders


Planks are a fantastic exercise for strengthening the core muscles, including the muscles in your back and shoulders. To perform a plank, start in a push-up position with your hands directly below your shoulders. Engage your core muscles and keep your body in a straight line from head to toe. Hold this position for as long as you can, aiming to gradually increase your endurance over time. Planks will not only help alleviate back and shoulder pain but also improve overall posture.


Bridges target the muscles in your glutes, lower back, and core, which are all essential for maintaining proper posture and alleviating back pain. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Engage your core muscles and lift your hips off the ground, forming a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your hips back down. Repeat the exercise for several repetitions, gradually increasing the number as your strength improves.


Rows are an excellent exercise for strengthening the muscles in your upper back, which can help alleviate shoulder pain and improve posture. You can perform rows using resistance bands, dumbbells, or a cable machine. Start by standing upright with your knees slightly bent and hold the resistance firmly in front of you. Pull the resistance towards your chest while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Return to the starting position and repeat for several repetitions. Focus on maintaining proper form and engaging the correct muscles throughout the exercise.

External rotations

External rotations target the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulders, which can help improve shoulder stability and reduce pain. Begin by holding a resistance band or light dumbbell in one hand. Stand with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle and your upper arms tucked by your sides. Keeping your elbows tucked in, rotate your forearm away from your body, moving your hand away from your stomach. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for several repetitions. Switch arms and perform the exercise on the other side.

Lat pulldowns

Lat pulldowns are an effective exercise for strengthening the muscles in your upper back and shoulders. Using a cable machine or resistance band, sit or stand with your arms extended overhead and your hands gripping the bar or band. Pull the bar or band down towards your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do so. Slowly release the tension and return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise for several repetitions, focusing on maintaining proper form and control throughout the movement.

Improving Sleep Environment

Adjusting room temperature

The temperature of your sleep environment can impact the quality of your sleep and, consequently, your back and shoulder pain. It’s generally recommended to keep your bedroom cool, between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, for optimal sleep. Experiment with different temperature settings to find what works best for you, as everyone has individual preferences. Additionally, consider using breathable bedding materials, such as cotton, to promote airflow and prevent overheating during the night.

Reducing noise

Noise disruptions during sleep can lead to restless nights and increased stress levels, which can exacerbate back and shoulder pain. Take steps to reduce noise in your sleep environment by using earplugs, white noise machines, or fans to create a soothing background noise. If outside noises persist, consider using thick curtains or soundproofing materials to minimize sound infiltration.

Using blackout curtains

Light can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, which can contribute to back and shoulder pain. Using blackout curtains or blinds can help block out external light sources, creating a dark and conducive environment for sleep. Additionally, ensure that your bedroom is dark enough by turning off electronic devices and using dim nightlights if necessary.

Choosing the right pillow and mattress

We’ve already discussed the importance of choosing the right pillow and mattress, but it’s worth emphasizing their role in improving your sleep environment. A comfortable and supportive pillow and mattress can significantly reduce back and shoulder pain while optimizing your sleep quality. During the mattress selection process, consider factors such as firmness, support, material, and additional features like pillow-tops or memory foam. Similarly, pay attention to pillow height, firmness, and support when choosing the right pillow for your needs.

Avoiding Bad Sleep Habits

Using electronic devices before bed

The blue light emitted by electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and TVs, can disrupt your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and make it harder to fall asleep. To improve your sleep and reduce back and shoulder pain, avoid using electronic devices for at least an hour before bed. Instead, opt for relaxing activities like reading a book, listening to calming music, or practicing a soothing bedtime routine.

Late night snacking

Eating large or heavy meals close to bedtime can make it difficult for your body to relax and fall asleep comfortably. Late-night snacking can also lead to indigestion and heartburn, which can further disrupt your sleep. To improve your sleep quality and minimize back and shoulder pain, avoid eating large meals within a few hours of bedtime. If you’re hungry, opt for a light and healthy snack instead.

Caffeine and alcohol consumption before sleep

Caffeine and alcohol can both interfere with your sleep patterns and impact the quality of your rest. Caffeine, a stimulant found in coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate, can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s recommended to avoid consuming caffeine at least six hours before bedtime. Alcohol, on the other hand, may make you feel drowsy initially but can disrupt the deeper stages of sleep and contribute to back and shoulder pain. It’s advisable to limit alcohol consumption and avoid drinking alcohol within a few hours of bedtime.

Inconsistent sleep schedule

Establishing a consistent sleep schedule can help regulate your body’s internal clock and promote better sleep quality. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. By sticking to a routine, you’re training your body to anticipate sleep and wakefulness, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Inconsistencies in your sleep schedule can lead to inadequate rest and increased back and shoulder pain.

Applying Heat or Cold Therapy

Hot compress

Applying heat to areas of back and shoulder pain can help relax muscles, reduce stiffness, and alleviate discomfort. You can use a hot compress, heating pad, or warm towel to apply heat to the affected areas. Ensure that the heat source is not too hot and avoid applying heat directly to the skin to prevent burns. Leave the heat on for about 15-20 minutes at a time, and repeat the process as needed for pain relief.

Cold packs

In cases of acute back or shoulder pain, cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Cold packs, ice packs, or packages of frozen vegetables can be used to provide cold therapy. Wrap the cold pack in a cloth or towel to protect your skin and apply it to the painful areas for about 10-15 minutes at a time. Remember to take breaks between cold therapy sessions to allow your skin to warm up.

Alternating between hot and cold therapy

Some individuals find relief by alternating between hot and cold therapy for back and shoulder pain. This process, also known as contrast therapy, involves applying heat to the affected areas for a few minutes, followed by cold therapy for a few minutes. This alternating process can help stimulate blood flow, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. Experiment with the duration and frequency of hot and cold therapy to find what works best for you.

Maintaining Proper Posture

Sitting posture

Maintaining proper posture while sitting can help prevent back and shoulder pain, even when you’re not sleeping. When sitting, keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and feet flat on the ground. Avoid slouching or hunching over, as this can put excessive strain on your back and shoulder muscles. If necessary, use a lumbar roll or cushion to support the natural curve of your lower back.

Working ergonomics

If you have a desk job or spend a significant amount of time working on a computer, it’s important to optimize your work ergonomics. Set up your workspace in a way that promotes proper posture and prevents back and shoulder pain. Adjust your chair to a comfortable height that allows your feet to rest flat on the ground and your knees to be slightly higher than your hips. Position your computer monitor at eye level to avoid straining your neck. Consider using an ergonomic chair or a standing desk to further support your posture.

Lifting techniques

Improper lifting techniques can lead to back and shoulder injuries. Whether you’re lifting heavy objects or simply picking up a bag of groceries, it’s essential to use proper form to protect your back and shoulders. Bend your knees and hips while keeping your back straight, then lift the object using the strength of your legs. Avoid twisting your body while lifting and instead use your feet to pivot. If the object is too heavy, ask for assistance or use lifting aids to avoid strain or injury.

Driving posture

Many individuals spend a significant amount of time behind the wheel, which can take a toll on their backs and shoulders. Maintaining good driving posture can help reduce discomfort and prevent pain. Ensure that your seat is adjusted to a comfortable position that supports the natural curves of your spine. Use lumbar support if necessary and adjust your mirrors so that you don’t strain your neck or shoulders while driving. Take breaks during long drives to stretch and change positions to prevent stiffness and fatigue.

When to Seek Professional Help

Persistent pain

If you experience persistent back and shoulder pain that lasts for more than a few weeks, it’s advisable to seek professional help. Chronic pain may be a sign of an underlying condition that requires medical attention. A healthcare professional can assess your symptoms, provide a diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Radiating pain

Radiating pain refers to pain that starts in one area and travels or radiates to another. If you experience back or shoulder pain that radiates down your arm or leg, it could be a sign of nerve compression or injury. Radiating pain should not be ignored and warrants a visit to a healthcare professional for further evaluation.

Accompanying symptoms

If your back or shoulder pain is accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as weakness, numbness, loss of bladder or bowel control, or unexplained weight loss, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention. These symptoms could indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires prompt medical intervention.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as herniated discs, osteoarthritis, or fibromyalgia, can cause or contribute to back and shoulder pain. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for managing your pain and improving your sleep quality.

Remember that while the tips provided in this article can be helpful for managing back and shoulder pain, every individual is unique. It’s essential to listen to your body and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options. By taking proactive steps to improve your sleep environment, adopt healthy sleep habits, and prioritize self-care, you can find relief from back and shoulder pain and achieve restful, rejuvenating sleep.

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