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4 Best Sleeping Positions for Shoulder Pain

Man With Shoulder Pain

Have you ever laid tossing and turning just because of the annoying pain in your neck or shoulder? Have you noticed why this happens when you lay down to sleep after a long busy day? 

Your sleeping position may be the culprit of this ache, and you might want to consider some pain-free sleeping positions.

Best sleep positions will reduce  shoulder pain, and you will wake up happy in the morning. Sleeping in the right way will support the body correctly, and you will be able to have a restful night sleep.

If you are experiencing pain in your shoulders,  my recommended sleeping positions are

  • Back Sleeping Position
  • Semi-Fetal Sleep Position
  • Freefall Position
  • Starfish Position

Best Sleep Position for Shoulder Pain

Sleeping in a proper posture is very important to reduce your shoulder pain. So, everyone must be aware of the best sleeping positions and the correlation between shoulder pain and sleeping posture.

Following are some recommended sleeping postures for people who are suffering from shoulder pain.

Back Sleep Postion

This position reduces shoulder pain by allowing your neck as well as your spine to rest smoothly. In this position, your shoulders will be at rest as the muscles are not stretched in any way.

Back Sleeping Position
Back Sleeping Position

Semi-Fetal Sleep Position

You can sleep on the side opposite to sore shoulder. Just place a pillow next to your stomach like you are hugging it. 

It will give support to your shoulder and reduce pressure on it, and you feel like floating. It is also known as a lateral sleeping position.

Semi-Fetal Sleep Position
Semi-Fetal Sleep Position

Freefall Position

This is also one of the best sleeping positions to reduce shoulder pain. You can wrap your arms around a pillow or tuck yourself under a pillow.

Freefall Sleeping Position
Freefall Sleeping Position

Starfish Position

This is another recommended sleeping position for shoulder pain. You can sleep on your back by placing your arms up over the head.

Starfish Sleep Position
Starfish Sleep Position

Don’t Be Afraid of Trying Different Sleep Positions

If a specific sleep position worked well for you but no longer seems to be working, then you should try something else. You can go for different sleeping positions recommended above. Research indicates that sleeping on one side can cause shoulder pain.

Sleeping on the same side all night can cause compression or cramping in a few areas of the body. It will create your posture imbalance, which results in pain.

Try out a new sleeping position when your preferred sleeping position doesn’t work well to lessen the pain.

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

Understanding the cause of shoulder pain will help you find out a remedy to get rid of this discomfort. Following are some common causes of shoulder pain.

1. Poor Sleeping Position

Wrong sleeping position is the main contributor to shoulder pain at night and early morning. Many patients complain that they are experiencing shoulder pain, but don’t realize that poor sleeping position is the reason behind ache.

2. Impingement

Impingement is likely the culprit behind your shoulder pain. When there is some less space between the rotator cuff tendons, a shoulder bone will move above the tendon.

The bone is known as “Acromion” as it is the part of the shoulder blade. When you are not sleeping in the right position, the pain will arise.

3. Exhausting Day

There can be numerous causes of shoulder pain. Usually, people experience it at night when lying down, because during a long busy day shoulder has been actively used in a vertical position. The tendons are engaged all the time, and they are pulled downward by gravity.

4. Tendon Damage

Rotator cuff tendons surround the shoulder joint and give them the ability to move well. So, it is vital to maintain movement, strength and power with the help of the best sleeping position.

5. Anxiety or Depression

Anxiety, along with deprivation of sleep, can be putting great exertion on your muscles, resulting in pain. Research has shown that depression and sleep disturbance can be a reason for extended shoulder pain.

Tips for a Comfortable Sleep If You Suffer From Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain after sleeping is a common problem; here are some tips that can help in reducing shoulder pain.

1. Use of Full-Length Pillow

If the movement of shoulders during sleep is hurting you, you can go for a full-length body pillow as this will be a free ticket for a restful sleep.

It will not only prevent your shoulder muscles from moving around but also is reasonably comfortable.

2. Good Support for Your Head

You can place with a pillow under your head to keep your upper body in appropriate alignment; it will keep your shoulders relaxed. You can also add up a small rolled towel under your neck. It will give you extra support to alleviate pain.

3. Choose Perfect Mattress

You can consider replacing your mattress or bedding if you are feeling pressure on your muscles and are unable to sleep in the right position.

Latex and Memory Foam mattresses are the best choice because those types of mattresses can not only give you the necessary support but also give a tender landing for your shoulder as you turn and adjust during sleep.

Tips to Lessen Shoulder Pain

Treating shoulder pain comprises of soothing inflammation. Following are some proven ways through which you can take care of yourself and get relief from shoulder pain.

1. Cold Compress

A cold compress will help to reduce swelling in the shoulder and reduce pain. You can apply an ice pack for 20 minutes, five times a day.

Additionally, you can use a frozen gel pack or a bag of frozen peas. It is advisable to wrap it in a soft towel; do not apply on the skin directly.

2. Heat Therapy

Heat also helps to relax muscles and stiff shoulders. It is beneficial for reducing muscle pain in the shoulder. You can use a heating pad or a hot water bottle.

3. 90-90 Shoulder Stretch

You can also go for some exercises to reduce shoulder pain. Just stand straight and hold your arms up at an angle of 90-degrees to your body.

Now, place one foot forward aligning with your neck and your spine. You can easily repeat this exercise 2 to 3 times.

4. Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants are very helpful to treat pain and especially if you have muscle tension around the shoulder joint.

Most common muscle relaxants include Baclofen, Cyclobenzaprine and many others are available from pharmacies.

5. Work on Rotator Cuff

Another best way to reduce shoulder pain after sleeping in the wrong position is rotator cuff. It is a collection of four major muscles, as discussed above.

They are a critical stabilizer, so exercise in the long term for strong and well-toned muscles will help decrease the likelihood of pain.


Ignoring your shoulder pain is not advisable. You must treat your body with extra care and take every care to reduce any instance of pain or discomfort. Many researchers found that sleep disturbances also create problems for your body muscles, and contribute to pain.

A good sleep position can make a significant change, and it will relieve you from nighttime anxiety.  So hope you can enjoy your sleep without shoulder pain.

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