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Best Sleeping Positions for Shoulder Impingement

by Patty Weasler, RN December 26, 2019 0 Comments

Woman sleeping

How can you possibly get a restful night’s sleep when you have shoulder pain? Turns out your sleeping position can play a huge factor in getting the sleep you desperately need. Shoulder impingement is a condition where inflammation within the shoulder joint causes certain structures to become compressed resulting in pain. If you have an impingement, it’s important to know the best sleeping positions to avoid further damage and allow your shoulder to heal quickly.

Why Does Shoulder Pain Get Worse at Night?

Your shoulder pain gets worse at night duet to your sleep position and decreased movement. If you’re sleeping on your side or your stomach you are putting additional strain on your shoulders. Side sleepers put more pressure on their shoulders with their own body weight. Whereas stomach sleepers will have their shoulders slouch forward while they sleep causing shoulder pain and neck pain.

An additional reason why shoulder pain is worse at night is that you aren’t moving around as much as you are during the day. This decrease in movement can also cause your shoulder pain to be worse at night. Less movement can cause fluid to build up within the shoulder joint resulting in a sore shoulder.

Can Sleeping Wrong Cause Shoulder Pain?

Sleeping on your side can increase your risk of shoulder pain. The shoulder that you sleep on is the recipient to added pressure from your torso. One study from Denmark found that shoulder pain was associated with side sleeping, with 67% of participants sleeping on the side of the painful shoulder.

Your sleep position is likely only part of the puzzle in the grand scheme of shoulder pain. If you have a rotator cuff injury, tendinitis, or impingement syndrome how you sleep can make your condition worse. If you are experiencing shoulder pain it’s important to discuss all the potential causes with a physical therapist or doctor.

Best Sleeping Position for Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement shouldn’t keep you from a good night’s sleep. There are ways to improve your sleep position to help you find pain relief while you sleep. Below are the best sleeping positions for shoulder impingement.

Sleeping on Your Back

Sleeping on your back is recommended for just about everyone, including those with shoulder impingement. When you are sleeping on your back you are in a neutral position with minimal stress on your back, shoulders, and neck. Your spine is straight, creating less back pain and better posture. For added support place a pillow under your knees to create a gentle bend and less pressure on your hips. Some people also find that a small pillow under their shoulders opens their chest and pulls their shoulders back. Play around with different support tools to find what works best for you.

Sleeping on Your Stomach

If you sleep on your stomach you can be adding to your shoulder pain. But don’t fret stomach sleepers, there is a solution. Place a pillow under your pelvis to help alleviate pain. If you find that your shoulders are falling forward as you sleep, creating poor posture, try propping your shoulders up with a small towel roll or cervical pillow. Shoulder problems can make it tough to find a comfortable sleep position but with a little creativity and adjustment, you can sleep comfortably.

Is Side Sleeping Bad for Your Shoulder?

Unfortunately, side sleeping is bad for your shoulders. If you have shoulder impingement sleep with the affected shoulder up. The less pressure you place on the injured shoulder the better. If you must sleep on your side try leaning back to take some weight off of your shoulder. Put a pillow in between your legs to keep your hips in alignment and pressure off of the lower back.

To reduce strain on shoulders while sleeping on your side, try a memory foam mattress topper for extra cushion.

Tips for Reducing Shoulder Pain While Sleeping

Most people will do just about anything to reduce their shoulder pain to help them sleep better. Here are some simple tips that can help you find pain relief and get to sleep.

Improving Sleep

Sleeping with shoulder impingement pain can impede a good night's rest but simple modifications or support tools can go a long way. Talk to your doctor about additional ways you can sleep comfortably and to get a correct diagnosis for your shoulder pain. We hope that you find the sleep position that works best for you and your shoulder.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22608285

https://www.healthline.com/health/pain-when-sleeping-on-shoulder#when-to-get-care

SHOP SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT PRODUCTS

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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