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How to Find Carpal Tunnel Pain Relief at Night

by Patty Weasler, RN September 20, 2019 0 Comments

sleeping with carpal tunnel

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a condition that affects the hand and wrist. It is often first felt at night, with pain, numbness, and tingling in the fingers and hand. Finding carpal tunnel pain relief at night and early on can prevent symptoms and lead to a better night’s sleep, less pain, and discomfort. In this article, we will talk about identifying the signs of carpal tunnel and how to best treat it to find nighttime relief.

Signs of Carpal Tunnel at Night

Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are often first felt at night then progresses to daytime. Those who have experienced carpal tunnel describe having numbness and pain, especially in the palm, thumb, index, and middle finger. These feelings can become so severe that it can be difficult to hold small objects in your hands or even make a fist.

Everyone experiences carpal tunnel syndrome in their own way. It can vary significantly from person to person. Here is a list of the most common nighttime symptoms, you may experience some or all of them.

  • Pain, mild to severe
  • Numbness
  • Hand or finger swelling
  • Loss of movement
  • Sense of prickling in the hands or fingers
  • Decreased strength
  • Difficulty identifying hot or cold at the touch
  • Inadvertently dropping objects

It’s important to address carpal tunnel symptoms as soon as possible. The median nerve runs through your wrist. Carpal tunnel symptoms happen when it becomes pinched or compressed which can lead to nerve damage. Always talk to your doctor for medical advice on the best course of treatment for your situation.

Why Does Carpal Tunnel Hurt More at Night?

It’s not uncommon for carpal tunnel symptoms to start while you’re sleeping and there are two main reasons why carpal tunnel syndrome can be worse at nighttime.

  1. Sleeping with your wrists bent.

    Flexing your wrists puts more pressure on the median nerve, in turn causing carpal tunnel pain. Ideally, you would sleep with your wrists in a neutral position with your hands slightly elevated.

  2. Lying down and moving minimally

    This can cause fluid to accumulate within your body. If fluid builds up within the wrist it can compress the median nerve.     

How Should You Sleep With Carpal Tunnel?

Your sleeping posture can greatly impact carpal tunnel syndrome. Taking care of your hands and wrists can go a long way. Here are a few easy at home remedies to reduce the pain and numbness associated with carpal tunnel syndrome:

Avoid bending your arms while you sleep

The median nerve travels down the entire length of your arm. Bending your arm for long periods of time can irritate and compress the nerve. Choose a sleeping position that allows you to keep your arms straight.

Wear a Night Wrist Splint

If you have trouble keeping your wrist and arms straight while sleeping, a nighttime wrist splint can keep your wrist in a neutral position. This prevents flexing of the wrist, which can put pressure on their median nerve. A splint that is designed for nighttime use should be fully adjustable, extend partially down the arm, and restrict hand and wrist movement. Wrist braces that can be worn on both hands are ideal for someone that suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands.

Support your Arms

Part of the process of carpal tunnel syndrome is swelling within the wrists. Supporting your arms with a pillow can help reduce overnight swelling. Simply prop your arms up with standard bed pillows or you can use a body pillow that can be positioned to support and keep your wrists straight.

Keep Hands Warm

Warmth causes an increase in blood flow. Keeping your hands and wrists warm throughout the night can encourage more blood to the wrists which increases healing time by bringing much needed nutrients and oxygen to the site of injury. There are a couple ways to keep your hands warm while you sleep. Check them out below:

Compression gloves

One of the easiest ways to retain heat in your hands and wrists is to wear specially designed compression gloves. These gloves are usually worn by people with carpal tunnel syndrome or other medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. They offer slight compression to the hands and wrists while holding in heat. The gloves are fingerless and won’t restrict movement, making it easy to wear any time of the day or night.

Room Temperature

Maintaining a warm ambient room temperature is an easy way to keep your hands warm. Turn up the heat when you are sleeping to help keep your hands warm. If you work outside of the house turn down the heat a little bit before you leave to reduce heating bills.

Avoid Sleeping on Your Side

Sleeping on your side is associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. Those who sleep on their side are more likely to sleep in the fetal position. If you sleep in the fetal position you typically have your shoulders rounded forward with your arms and wrists bent. The pressure on your shoulder and arm from your own body weight combined with bent arms may lead to nerve compression.

How to Stop Carpal Tunnel Pain at Night?

The pain from carpal tunnel syndrome can affect your sleep. It’s important to start treatment as soon as you feel symptoms to prevent them from getting worse or upon waking up. There are lots of treatment options for carpal tunnel pain at night. Try these next time symptoms keep you up at night.

Shake Out Your Hands

Some people report that when they have carpal tunnel they wake up feeling like they need to shake out their wrists. Go right ahead and shake out your hands before you go to bed and if you wake up during the night to encourage blood flow and move the stagnant fluid that has built up within your wrists.

Apply Pressure to Wrists

Wrist pain, numbness, and tingling can be treated with gentle pressure to the wrists. You can wear a splint or compression gloves to provide that pressure and prevent nighttime swelling. Applying pressure with self massage is another way to relieve pain. Combined with elevating your hands, pressure is an excellent way to get pain relief from carpal tunnel.

Take OTC Anti- Inflammatory

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and naproxen are short-term pain relievers. Many doctors and physical therapists will recommend taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to help reduce swelling and pain. If you are taking other medications talk to your primary doctor before taking a new medication.  

Apply Ice

Icing your wrist before you go to bed is an easy, inexpensive way to find carpal tunnel relief. Place an ice pack over the back of your wrist for 10 to 15 minutes to reduce swelling and nerve irritation. Never sleep with an ice pack on any part of your body as it can cause serious skin injuries.


    Managing carpal tunnel pain at nighttime can be successful if treated early and consistently. There are many inexpensive options that can be done in the comfort of your own home, icing, splints, over-the-counter medications, and wrist positioning to name a few. If your carpal tunnel is getting worse or does not get better seek professional help from your doctor. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a serious condition that can cause long-term damage if you do not treat it promptly and appropriately.


    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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