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Tips for Sleeping with a Painful Shoulder

Home » » Tips for Sleeping with a Painful Shoulder

Difficulty sleeping is one of the most common complaints that I hear from people who are dealing with a shoulder problem. Whether the pain started gradually or is the result of injury or a surgery, finding a way to sleep without the shoulder waking them at night can be a challenge. In this post, I share some tips on how to try and position your shoulder to get a good nights rest….

One piece of information that I obtain from patients that let me know they may have a problem with their shoulder is whether or not they can sleep on their side. Most people with a shoulder problem will be awakened if they lay on their involved shoulder. In addition, even if someone lays on their back or their other shoulder, their painful shoulder will still wake them. Below, I want to share a video and write out some key things that you can try to help you sleep with less shoulder pain. These are appropriate for people who;s problem came on gradually and even those who are recovering from surgery.

First, I would like to share this video, where I talk about how to position your shoulder using pillows if it bothers you at night.

So, from the video, there are a couple of key concepts which I will outline here:

1. First, you want to make sure that you a spare pillow or two to help with your arm positioning.

2. Usually, the most comfortable position for our shoulder is with our arm slightly in front or our body and slightly away from it.

3. If you are on your back, do not let your elbow rest back on your mattress. Use a pillow behind your elbow to prop it forward a bit. In addition, you will want a pillow between your elbow and body while supporting the forearm. This will keep your arm propped in the most comfortable position. 

4. When laying on the opposite side of your sore shoulder, place a pillow between your body and elbow/forearm to keep your arm slight in front and away from your body. 

5. For the time being, laying on your sore shoulder is not recommended, but eventually you should be able to as your should improves with the treatment you are hopefully receiving. 

Point #5, brings me to my lat point. If you are finding that shoulder pain is keeping you awake at night, don’t just decide to live with it. There are many things that can be done to help your shoulder, and I would be happy to help you out. Getting a good night’s rest is important for pain and our overall health. Don’t let should pain stop you from sleeping. 

Thanks for reading and feel free to reach out if you have any questions,


All information on this website is intended for instruction and informational purposes only. The authors are not responsible for any harm or injury that may result. Significant injury risk is possible if you do not follow due diligence and seek suitable professional advice about your injury. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied on this website.

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