What’s The Best Sleeping Position For Shoulder Impingement? – The Bedding Planet

What’s The Best Sleeping Position For Shoulder Impingement?


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Have you ever tossed and turned in your sleep due to persistent shoulder pain? Despite being occupied all day, do you still have discomfort or illness when you go to sleep?

This is due to the fact that your brain performs a myriad of other jobs during the day while oblivious to the issue with your shoulders.

While sleeping in bed, your mind focuses more on your body and the dull or throbbing discomfort. Additionally, because you are now lying back, gravity will pull on your shoulders differently, causing stress. Maintaining physical fitness is important so you can get a good night’s sleep.

Despite the lack of evidence on shoulder injuries and sleeping positions, the majority of doctors advise sleeping on your back. The injured shoulder won’t be pressed upon or forced into an unnatural posture by lying on your back.

What is Shoulder Impingement?

Shoulder pain is frequently brought on by shoulder impingement. Due to its prevalence among swimmers it is often referred to as swimmer’s shoulder or impingement syndrome. Other athletes that use their shoulders frequently, including baseball and softball players, are also susceptible to it.

The muscles and tendons that link the upper arm bone to the shoulder are collectively known as the rotator cuff. They support you while you lift and move your arm.

The acromion, located at the top of the shoulder, is where the rotator cuff is located. If you have shoulder impingement, your rotator cuff will snag or rub on the acromion.

The bursa—the area between the rotator cuff and the acromion—narrows when your arm is raised, increasing pressure. Impingement results from the rotator cuff becoming irritated by the increasing pressure.

Sleeping Positions to Avoid When Having Shoulder Impingement

Sleeping on your side: You probably sleep on your side if you’re like most people. In actuality, lying on one’s side causes approximately 74% of people to fall asleep4. Switching positions might be challenging if you have shoulder pain from rotator cuff damage or shoulder impingement.

Your body weight increases strain and can exacerbate shoulder pain when you sleep on your side, which might occasionally result in your arms nodding off at night. It’s advisable to switch to sleeping on your back and avoid resting on your shoulder that is hurting.

Sleeping on your stomach: When sleeping with shoulder impingement or a rotator cuff injury, stomach sleepers may also experience difficulty. This is due to the fact that sleeping on your stomach causes your shoulders to fall forward and put a strain on your neck and shoulders.

Best Sleeping Positions When Having Shoulder Impingement

You shouldn’t let shoulder impingement impede you from getting a decent night’s sleep. You can alter how you sleep to manage your pain better while you are asleep. The ideal sleeping positions for shoulder impingement are shown below.

Sleeping on Your Back

Everyone, including those with shoulder impingement, should sleep on their back. Your back, shoulders, and neck are not under as much strain when sleeping on your back since you are in a neutral posture. Your spine is straight, which results in better posture and less back pain.

To relieve strain on your hips and provide additional support, gently bend your knees with the aid of a pillow. A little pillow under the shoulders can also expand the chest and bring the shoulders back for certain people. Try out various assistance tools to see which one suits you the most.

Sleeping on Your Stomach

Your shoulder ache may get worse if you sleep on your stomach. However, stomach sleepers need not worry; a remedy exists. Put a pillow underneath your pelvis to help with pain relief.

Try raising your shoulders with a small towel roll or cervical cushion if you notice your shoulders dropping forward while you sleep, leading to bad posture. Finding a comfortable sleeping position can be challenging if you have shoulder issues, but with enough imagination and modification, you can do it.

Sleeping on The Shoulder That Doesn’t Hurt

The goal of this sleeping position is to ease the shoulder pain temporarily. You can help the ‘damaged’ shoulder heal and recover from minor injuries to the muscles and tendons by sleeping on the opposite, healthy side and shoulder.

Make sure to tuck a little pillow under your arm to prevent further harm to the shoulder. The damaged shoulder will receive support from this, and the primary pressure sites will also receive alleviation and less pressure (bones and muscles in the shoulder area).

Don’t sleep on your sides once your injured shoulder has recovered. The pressure from your entire body on these two shoulder joints could damage your shoulder.

Sleeping With Arms on Sides

You are in the supine position while sleeping with your arms at your sides. The shoulders and other body parts get the least stress from this sleeping position. It enables a precise spine alignment with the arm, neck, shoulder, and back in a neutral position.

The supine posture, also referred to as the soldier’s sleep position, allows for the best neck and spine alignment, lessened muscle tension, and overall body relaxation and release of strain and tension.

It’s vital to note that you shouldn’t twist your body or turn your head to one side while sleeping supine. The head must be up, the arms must be parallel to the torso, and the legs must be straight to prevent shoulder strain.

Sleeping With Arms Under or Above The Head

The supine position with the arms stretched above or under the head is a modification of the previous supine position. Few individuals sleep in this posture because it is somewhat odd.

However, this sleeping position may be helpful for those who have shoulder problems. The lowest subacromial or shoulder strain on the muscles and tendons is achieved by extending your arms behind or beneath your head. Similar to the standard soldier sleeping posture, this one similarly calls for a horizontal position with the head raised and the legs extended.

They can place a cushion beneath their knees for additional support in this sleeping posture for those with knee problems.

Additionally, you shouldn’t face one side or the other while in this position because doing so could increase neck stretch.

Tips For Sleeping Better When Having Shoulder Impingement

You might need to adjust your sleeping habits if you get shoulder aches while trying to sleep. We will go over several sleeping postures, rest aids that can help you get a better night’s sleep, and techniques to decrease shoulder pain symptoms while trying to fall asleep.

Use a different pillow

What is The Healthiest Pillow to Use

You might think about switching pillows if you wake up with an aching, sore shoulder. A thicker pillow is the real deal to improve head and neck support for side sleepers with shoulder pain.

Avoid sleeping on your stomach

If your preferred sleeping position is on your stomach, it might be causing your discomfort. A 2018 study found a link between shoulder pain symptoms and primarily sleeping on one’s stomach with the arms raised.

UC San Diego Health suggests using a thin pillow to straighten your neck if you prefer to sleep on your stomach. In order to assist your spine in adjusting, they also advise putting a pillow under your pelvis.

Avoid sleeping on the side that hurts

If you prefer to sleep on your side, you could discover that you naturally roll over to that side even if it hurts.

In order to keep your injured shoulder raised as you sleep, the Arthritis Foundation advises placing a thick cushion under the arm of the affected shoulder. Additionally, it advises back sleepers to prop up their arms with pillows or sleep on a wedge to maintain a 45-degree angle in their upper body.

Elevate your body with an adjustable-base bed

Have you got some money to spare? To improve your ability to sleep, think about making a few important bed improvements.

Petrie advises spending money on an adjustable bed that lets you sleep with your head elevated, relieving shoulder strain. Even though it is pricey, if you have persistent shoulder pain that interferes with getting enough rest, this update might be worthwhile.

Consider a smart mattress

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) provides a list of a number of technology items that can teach users more about their sleep patterns and enhance the quality of their sleep. A smart mattress falls under this category since it contains built-in sensors that detect your sleeping position.

The NSF describes a particular kind of smart mattress that can adjust its firmness automatically when you change positions while you sleep. In accordance with your preferences or pain treatment requirements, you can manually alter the pressure and support levels.

Tips For Reducing Shoulder Pain While Sleeping

Find a better sleeping position

Discovering a comfortable sleeping position is the first step in treating shoulder pain at night. Most individuals typically toss and turn at night, but if you land incorrectly, it could irritate your shoulder. Avoiding this ache while sleeping on the opposite shoulder is possible, but avoid sleeping on your back.

Stick to a sleep schedule

Always be sure to make an effort to adhere to a sleeping routine in addition to correcting your position while you’re asleep. Your sleeping patterns can drastically change with good sleep hygiene.

A regular bedtime routine that aids in winding down at the end of the day can work wonders in lowering stress and tension and enhancing the quantity and quality of your sleep.

Try taking a relaxing shower before night, and ensure you sleep in a room without electronics.

Perform stretches for shoulder pain at night

Exercise might also be beneficial a few hours before bed because it will improve blood flow throughout the body. This can reduce discomfort while calming you down enough to improve your sleep quality. Try a low-impact activity, such as a quick stroll or bike ride, and then give your body time to calm down before bed.

Try yoga poses for neck pain

Trying the following yoga poses for neck pain could also help you feel better because shoulder pain at night is frequently associated with neck pain. The triangle shoulder stretch is also shown in this video:

Why is Shoulder Impingement Worse at Night?

Bursitis, tendinitis, and rotator cuff injuries are the three conditions that might aggravate shoulder discomfort during the night. This is because both types of inflammation, especially when the region is squeezed, can tug on the shoulder joint (as when laying on your side in bed).

Your shoulder may become uncomfortable and stiff as a result. Additionally, you can suffer tingling, numbness, or muscle spasms that reach your fingertips.

The following things could be the reason for the shoulder pain that gets worse at night:

1. Bursitis: The bursa, a fluid-filled pad that cushions joints, becomes inflamed, leading to this ailment. Once bursitis affects the shoulder, you will experience a vicious cycle of pain, swelling, and more discomfort until you properly address the disease. Because resting on your side can compress the bursa and increase the discomfort you typically experience with bursitis, bursitis in the shoulder is a common cause of nighttime pain.

2. Tendonitis: This injury also exhibits inflammation brought on by repetitive use. The tendons that connect muscle to bone become inflamed and irritated when it affects the shoulder, resulting in discomfort and stiffness. It can be challenging to fall asleep at night because the pain frequently worsens. This might be the case because when you lie down, gravity’s effects lead your shoulder’s muscles and tendons to settle in a little altered posture, which reduces blood flow to the area and exacerbates the discomfort of tendon problems like tendonitis.

3. Rotator Cuff Injuries: The muscles and tendons that attach the shoulder blade to the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff supports the shoulder and allows for easy joint movement. A typical overuse injury that can also come from a fall, lifting something too heavy, or a car accident is damage to the shoulder’s rotator cuff. It results in swelling and pain in the shoulder, which may get worse at night because of how you lie in bed, particularly if you choose to sleep on your side, which can aggravate and swell the rotator cuff’s already inflamed muscles and tendons.

Can Sleeping on Your Side Cause Shoulder Impingement?

Yes. This can be due to a number of reasons:

1. During side sleeping, the rotator cuff tendons may compress between the scapular bone and the shoulder humerus bone. This may lead to prolonged compression of the rotator cuff, friction, and other diseases like bursitis, tendonitis, and rotator cuff tears. Pain and weakness with reaching or above tasks are signs of impingement.

2. Bursae are sacs in the shoulder that contain fluid and act as a cushion between bones and tendons. Long-term impingement brought on by side sleeping may result in shoulder bursal tissue irritation. This could result in shoulder soreness, stiffness, and trouble moving forward.

3. A rotator cuff tendon connects the rotator cuff muscles to the bone. The rotator cuff tendons may become impinged for an extended period or repeatedly, resulting in microscopic tears (tendinitis) and eventually full-thickness rotator cuff tears. Pain and weakness in the shoulder are symptoms.

4. Long-term side sleeping may result in cartilage deterioration in the shoulder or within the shoulder’s acromioclavicular (AC) joint. Osteoarthritis of the shoulder or the AC joint may result from this. This could lead to stiffness, uncomfortable popping or clicking, and pain worsening as you move.

Niklas Lampi

My name is Niklas and I'm the author and content operator at The Bedding Planet. I've always had a big interest in bedding and more specifically sleep. If I find something that makes me sleep better, whether that's a lifestyle change or a better bedding environment, I'm ready to share it with the world!

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