23 May 2024
Say goodbye to sleepless nights and shoulder pain! Discover effective tips to relieve shoulder pain while sleeping. Get ready for a peaceful slumber.

If you’ve ever experienced the discomfort of shoulder pain while trying to sleep, you know just how frustrating it can be. Tossing and turning throughout the night, unable to find a comfortable position, can leave you feeling exhausted and irritable the next day. But fear not! With a few simple tips and adjustments, you can finally say goodbye to those sleepless nights and wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free. In this article, we’ll explore some effective ways to relieve shoulder pain while sleeping, allowing you to enjoy a restful night’s sleep like never before. So, get ready to bid farewell to those achy shoulders and say hello to a peaceful slumber.

Tips for Relieving Shoulder Pain While Sleeping

Sleeping Positions

Back Sleeping

Back sleeping is one of the best sleep positions for relieving shoulder pain. When you sleep on your back, you distribute your body weight evenly, minimizing pressure on your shoulders. This position also keeps your spine properly aligned, reducing strain on your shoulder joints. To enhance the benefits of back sleeping, use a supportive pillow and consider placing a pillow under your knees to further promote spinal alignment.

Side Sleeping

If back sleeping isn’t comfortable for you, side sleeping can be a great alternative for relieving shoulder pain. When you sleep on your side, make sure to keep your shoulder clear of the weight of your body by using a supportive pillow. Placing a pillow between your legs can also help maintain proper spinal alignment. Avoid sleeping on the same side for long periods and periodically switch sides to avoid putting excessive pressure on one shoulder.

Stomach Sleeping

While stomach sleeping is generally not recommended for shoulder pain, some people find it more comfortable. If you prefer this position, try using a thin pillow or no pillow at all to prevent your neck from twisting. Placing a pillow under your lower abdomen can help support your spine and reduce strain on your shoulders. However, it’s important to note that stomach sleeping can cause neck and shoulder stiffness, so if possible, it’s best to explore other sleep positions.

Use Additional Support


Using the right pillow can make a significant difference in relieving shoulder pain while sleeping. Look for a pillow that provides adequate support and aligns your head and neck with your spine. Memory foam pillows or those with adjustable loft can be particularly beneficial, as they conform to the shape of your head and provide customized support.

Mattress Toppers

Investing in a quality mattress topper can also help alleviate shoulder pain. Look for a topper that provides cushioning and support, relieving pressure on your shoulders and promoting proper spinal alignment. Memory foam or latex toppers are popular options as they offer contouring comfort and distribute weight evenly.

Body Pillows

If you’re a side sleeper, using a body pillow can provide extra support and help align your shoulders properly. A body pillow can be hugged or placed between your knees to help maintain spinal alignment. By reducing the strain on your shoulders, body pillows can help alleviate pain and discomfort while you sleep.

Tips for Relieving Shoulder Pain While Sleeping

Optimize Your Pillow

Choose the Right Pillow

Choosing the right pillow is crucial for relieving shoulder pain while sleeping. Look for a pillow that suits your preferred sleep position and provides adequate support for your neck and shoulders. Side sleepers may benefit from a firmer pillow with a higher loft, while back sleepers may prefer a medium-firm pillow with a lower loft. Experiment with different pillow options until you find the one that best supports your shoulders and promotes proper alignment.

Adjust the Pillow Height

Proper pillow height is essential for maintaining good posture and relieving shoulder pain. Your pillow should be thick enough to support your head and neck without tilting them too far forward or back. Adjust the pillow height by adding or removing filling until you find the most comfortable position that keeps your spine in alignment and your shoulders relaxed.

Consider a Shoulder Pillow

If you frequently experience shoulder pain, consider using a shoulder pillow. These pillows have a cutout or groove designed to accommodate your shoulders, allowing greater comfort and reducing pressure on the affected area. Shoulder pillows can be particularly beneficial for individuals recovering from shoulder injuries or surgeries, as they provide targeted support and cushioning.

Maintain Good Posture

Sit and Stand Tall

Maintaining good posture throughout the day can have a positive impact on your shoulder health. When sitting or standing, make a conscious effort to keep your shoulders back and down, and align your ears with your shoulders. Avoid slouching or hunching forward, as this can contribute to shoulder pain and discomfort.

Position Your Arms Properly

Proper arm positioning can also help relieve shoulder pain. Avoid activities that require repetitive or prolonged overhead arm movements, as these can strain your shoulder joints. When sitting or lying down, try to keep your arms supported, either by resting them on armrests or using pillows. This can alleviate pressure on your shoulders and promote proper alignment.

Tips for Relieving Shoulder Pain While Sleeping

Practice Shoulder Stretches

Behind-the-back Stretch

Stretching your shoulders regularly can help increase flexibility and reduce pain. One effective stretch is the behind-the-back stretch. Simply reach one arm behind your head and touch your opposite shoulder blade. Use your other hand to gently push your elbow backward. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and then switch sides. Repeat this stretch several times a day to loosen tight muscles and improve shoulder mobility.

Cross-body Stretch

Another great shoulder stretch is the cross-body stretch. Begin by standing or sitting up straight and gently reach your affected arm across your body, placing your hand on the opposite shoulder or upper arm. Use your other hand to apply gentle pressure to enhance the stretch. Hold for 15-30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Performing this stretch regularly can help relieve tension and increase range of motion in your shoulders.

Eagle Arms Stretch

The eagle arms stretch is a yoga-inspired stretch that targets the muscles and joints in your shoulders. Start by sitting up straight and extending your arms in front of you. Cross one arm over the other, bend your elbows and bring your palms to touch if possible. If you can’t touch your palms, reach for opposite shoulders or wrists. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, focusing on relaxing your shoulders and breathing deeply. Switch arm positions and repeat. The eagle arms stretch can help relieve shoulder pain and improve flexibility.

Apply Heat or Cold Therapy

Hot Compresses

Applying heat to your shoulders can help relax muscles, improve blood flow, and reduce pain. Use a hot compress, heating pad, or warm towel and apply it to your shoulders for 15-20 minutes. Make sure the temperature is comfortably warm, not too hot. You can repeat this therapy a few times a day to alleviate shoulder pain and promote relaxation.

Cold Packs

Cold therapy can also be effective for reducing shoulder pain. Wrap a cold pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a thin towel and apply it to your shoulders for 15-20 minutes. Cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and numb the area, providing temporary pain relief. Make sure to limit cold therapy sessions to 20 minutes at a time and take breaks between sessions to avoid skin damage.

Take Medications or Supplements

Over-the-counter Pain Relievers

When shoulder pain persists, over-the-counter pain relievers can provide temporary relief. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium can help reduce pain and inflammation. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before regularly using these medications, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or take other medications.

Topical Pain-relieving Creams

Topical creams or gels containing ingredients like menthol, camphor, or capsaicin can provide localized pain relief when applied to the shoulders. These creams work by numbing the area or promoting blood flow, which can help ease shoulder discomfort. Follow the instructions on the product and avoid applying them to broken or irritated skin.

Supplements for Joint Health

Certain supplements may support joint health and alleviate shoulder pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin are popular options that can help maintain the health and flexibility of your shoulder joints. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce pain and inflammation in the shoulders. Always consult with your doctor before starting any supplements to ensure they are safe and suitable for you.

Consider Physical Therapy

Seek Professional Guidance

If your shoulder pain persists or worsens, it may be beneficial to consult a physical therapist. A physical therapist can assess your condition, identify any underlying issues, and develop a customized treatment plan to address your specific needs. They can guide you through exercises and techniques to improve shoulder strength, flexibility, and overall function.

Learn Proper Exercises and Techniques

Physical therapy sessions can teach you proper exercises and techniques to relieve shoulder pain while sleeping. These exercises can help increase shoulder stability, strengthen the surrounding muscles, and improve range of motion. Your physical therapist may also teach you postural correction techniques and ergonomic adjustments to optimize your sleep environment and reduce shoulder strain.

Investigate Potential Underlying Conditions

Rotator Cuff Injury

If you experience persistent or severe shoulder pain, it’s important to investigate potential underlying conditions. One common cause of shoulder pain is a rotator cuff injury. This can occur due to repetitive motions, overuse, or trauma. Seeking medical attention and getting an accurate diagnosis is crucial for proper treatment and recovery.


Arthritis can also contribute to shoulder pain while sleeping. Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation and deterioration of the shoulder joints. If you suspect arthritis, consult with a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and treatment plan. They can recommend medications, physical therapy, or other interventions to manage your pain and slow the progression of the condition.


Tendonitis, inflammation of the tendons in the shoulder, can cause significant pain and discomfort. It can be caused by repetitive movements, overuse, or injury. If you suspect tendonitis, rest your shoulder, apply ice, and avoid activities that worsen the pain. Consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Modify Your Sleep Environment

Dim the Lights

Creating a sleep-friendly environment can help promote quality sleep and alleviate shoulder pain. Dimming the lights in your bedroom signals to your body that it’s time to unwind and relax. Use curtains or blinds to block out any external sources of light that could disrupt your sleep. Invest in blackout curtains if necessary to create a dark and comfortable atmosphere.

Reduce Noise

Excessive noise can disrupt your sleep and contribute to shoulder pain. Use earplugs or a white noise machine to drown out any disturbing sounds. White noise can create a soothing background sound that masks other noises and promotes a peaceful sleep environment. Experiment with different sounds to find the one that works best for you.

Maintain Comfortable Temperature

Keeping your bedroom temperature at a comfortable level is essential for undisturbed sleep. While individual preferences may vary, most people sleep best in a cool environment between 60-67°F (15-19°C). Adjust your bedding and clothing accordingly to ensure you don’t feel too hot or too cold during the night. Use breathable fabrics and consider using a fan or air conditioner to maintain a pleasant sleep temperature.

By implementing these tips and techniques, you can significantly reduce shoulder pain while sleeping. Remember to listen to your body, modify your sleep habits as needed, and seek medical advice if your symptoms persist or worsen. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy restful nights and wake up with a refreshed and pain-free shoulder.

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