Avoidable Reasons Side Sleepers Get Shoulder Pain

Avoidable Reasons Side Sleepers Get Shoulder Pain

Almost all side sleepers experience arm, shoulder and neck pain at one point or another — all due to sleeping on a flat mattress. 

If you’ve experienced these discomforts, you can finally rest a little easier knowing there’s a solution - The SONU Sleep System

How To Sleep Better on Your Side

One of the most common reasons side sleepers have shoulder pain is from sleeping on a flat mattress that puts unneeded stress on the shoulders. Based on the position of your arms and how they rest against the mattress, you can easily end up with shoulder pain, numbness in the arms, and a loss of feeling in your hands.

The SONU Sleep System solves this issue. With the patented Comfort Channel, your arms can fully immerse into the bed, relieving the pressure that’s put on your shoulders in other sleeping positions that you’re forced into with other mattresses. Side sleepers finally have a place for their arms to tuck into for a restful sleep without the worry of shoulder stiffness and pins and needles by morning. 

On top of that, there are a few positions that side sleepers can try to avoid shoulder pain:

  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees to help level your body and lighten the stress on the shoulders
  • Sleep on your side with one knee bent, keeping both hips level, to help disperse the pressure throughout your body versus having a majority on your shoulder

All in all, try to be mindful of your sleep position. Keep your neck in a neutral position by using pillows to support yourself. 

The SONU Sleep Top Pillow offers the support and flexibility you need in order to sleep on your side so you don’t have to wake up to a crick in your neck. Plus, on top of the support it provides, it’s made with breathable material and a smooth, cooling cover, promoting airflow so you won’t overheat.

If you want even more comfort while you sleep on your side, the SONU Top Pillow Deluxe offers the perfect amount of support, maximum malleability, and cooling properties. The Deluxe Top Pillow can be placed on top of the support pillows that come with your SONU Sleep system. With added support to your head and neck, your shoulders will be cradled by the support pillows underneath the Deluxe Top Pillows.

With SONU, side-sleepers won’t have to constantly worry about putting pressure on their arms and shoulders. 

If all else fails, try sleeping on your stomach or your back instead of your side, even if just once in a while; this can be uncomfortable for some people but may provide relief for nights to come by simply giving your shoulders a break. 

Is Your Spine Aligned Properly? 

A common cause of shoulder pain for side sleepers is poor spinal alignment. When you lay on your side, your head, torso, and hips should all be in line with each other. If they’re not, it can add stress to your shoulder joints.

This can be avoided by using a pillow that supports your head and neck while keeping your spine in alignment. 

Can Chiropractors or Orthopedic Doctors Help With Poor Spinal Alignment?

Chiropractors are "back doctors" and spine specialists who use spinal adjustments to treat pain, especially back pain. Chiropractors believe that misalignments of the spine’s bones can affect your entire body and overall health. 

Another option that may alleviate shoulder pain from side sleeping is to visit an orthopedic or chiropractic doctor for treatment. Both practitioners utilize different methods to help make adjustments in the shoulders that can help relieve pain.

An orthopedic doctor is a fully trained medical professional who has received extensive training in the human body’s musculoskeletal system and can make recommendations to adjust your sleeping position and alleviate some of the pressure. 

Are You Using the Right Mattress?

If you frequently experience shoulder pain from sleeping on your side, make sure your mattress is up to standards. Use an ergonomic mattress that provides enough support and cushioning for your body type. 

A medium-firm mattress is usually the best option for side sleepers with shoulder pain. This will help keep your spine aligned and reduce pressure on your shoulders. 

If you find that a medium-firm mattress is too firm, try an alternative such as a soft or plush mattress. Memory foam mattresses are also good options for side sleepers. These types of mattresses can conform to your body and support you where you need it the most. 

If you want to add to your comfort, a memory foam pillow may help by keeping your head and neck aligned while you sleep.

Are You Supporting Your Shoulders With Pillows? 

Absolutely. You should also make sure that you use a high enough pillow to support your head and neck comfortably. The best type of pillow for a side sleeper is a thick, firm pillow.

You may also want to try using a cervical pillow designed specifically for side sleepers. 

Another option is placing a rolled-up towel or blanket behind your back. This will also help align the spine and can reduce shoulder pain. 

Are Your Shoulders Already Tense by the Time You Go to Bed?

A great way to reduce pain caused by sleeping on your side is stretching regularly throughout the day. This can be as simple as reaching for the sky or touching your toes. A few minutes of gentle stretching each day can make a big difference in how you feel when going to bed at night. 

Daily stretching can also keep muscles limber, making you less likely to wake up in pain due to tension built from side sleeping. 

There are also a few stretching exercises you can do to help relieve shoulder pain:

  • Extend your arm out straight and gently pull it towards your bed until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, release, and repeat on the other side.
  • Another easy exercise is to clasp your hands together, palms facing one another. Then press your arms out straight until you feel the stretch in your shoulders and side body. Hold for 30 seconds, release, and repeat on the other side.
  • Try crossing both of your ankles over each knee, gently work your arms towards the side of your body until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, release, and repeat on both sides.

These exercises may help relieve shoulder pain by stretching out muscles that tighten up as we sleep on our sides.

Ergonomic Furniture Can Support Posture and Relieve Shoulder Pain

Muscular pain associated with sleeping can be made worse with poor posture through the day. If you are someone who sits in a chair all day long, especially working from home, it might be worth investing in an ergonomic chair and a few other products that can help support proper posture and set your shoulders up for success when you lie down for bed. 

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Ergonomic office chair
  • Monitor stands to help prevent hunching over
  • Lumbar support cushions
  • Standing desk

Do You Have Existing Shoulder Injuries You Might Be Aggravating? 

Another common reason side sleepers develop shoulder pain is from injuries. This could result from a previous accident or just from everyday wear and tear. For example, side sleepers are especially at risk for developing rotator cuff problems, and those with rotator cuff problems can irritate their injury by sleeping on the side that’s injured. 

If you have issues with your rotator cuff, sleeping on your side can increase the stress on the rotator cuff muscles and shoulder tendons. If you experience any continued pain or discomfort in your shoulder, you should talk to your doctor.

Shoulder discomfort can also occur when shoulder muscles grow tired from supporting your weight all night long. This is especially true if you tend to roll onto your stomach or back during the night. Over time, this constant tension can lead to pain and stiffness. 

Unfortunately, some people are simply unlucky and have a body shape that predisposes them to shoulder pain when sleeping on their side. If this is the case, changing your sleeping position and using the right pillow can help alleviate some discomfort. 

By being mindful of these potential causes of shoulder pain, you can take steps to prevent them from happening. You’ll be well on your way to a more restful night of sleep!

Tips For Relieving Shoulder Pain

While not all causes of shoulder pain come down to joint and muscle discomfort, a lot of them do — here are a few methods for getting some relief. Keep in mind that these shouldn’t be your temporary pain relievers while you work to find the root cause of your shoulder pain. 

Getting a Sports Massage

A sports massage is a great way to work out the kinks and tension in your muscles. If you're a side sleeper, it's important to get a massage that focuses on your shoulders. It can help release some of the tension you feel and can leave you sleeping soundly.

Take a Salt Bath

If you're a side sleeper and are experiencing shoulder pain, try taking a salt bath. The magnesium in the salt can help to soothe your muscles and improve blood circulation. Add two cups of Epsom salt to a warm bathtub and relax for 15 minutes. Not only will this help relieve your shoulder pain, but it'll also leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed.

Try a Topical Pain Cream or Muscle Balm

If you're not a fan of baths, you can also try using topical pain relief creams or muscle balms on your shoulder muscles. These over-the-counter formulas usually include ingredients like menthol or arnica to help provide instant soothing relief to sore muscles and joints. 

Apply an Ice Pack

Try applying an ice pack to help relieve some of the tension you may be feeling in your shoulders. Place the ice pack on your shoulder for 15 minutes at a time. Repeat this process as needed to help bring down any swelling or inflammation. 

Apply a Heat Compress

A heat compress can help to relax tense muscles and soothe a stiff shoulder. Place the compress on your shoulder and let it sit for about 15 minutes. This will help loosen up the muscles and increase blood flow to the area. You can use a traditional heating pad, or you can also stand in a hot shower or even microwave a damp kitchen towel in a pinch. 

Conclusion

Whether it be poor neck alignment, arm positioning, pillow height, or one of many, many factors, shoulder pain can make it feel like you didn’t get an ounce of rest. If you sleep on your side but have been experiencing discomfort in your shoulders or upper back after waking up, it may be time to re-evaluate your sleep position, or at the very least, make sure you’re supported enough to relieve some pressure from your shoulders. 

If you are looking for shoulder pain relief, the SONU Sleep System has you covered with our patented Comfort Channel where your arm can comfortably rest and help you sleep with your spine in alignment. 

On top of that, stretching exercises, sports massages, applying cold or warm compresses, among other remedies can help.

Side sleeping can be comfortable but only when done correctly. With these tips and SONU in your bedroom, you should be on your way to a good night’s rest in no time!


Sources

Is sleep position associated with glenohumeral shoulder pain and rotator cuff tendinopathy: a cross-sectional study | NCBI 

Sleep position and shoulder pain | NCBI

When Shoulder Pain Disrupts Sleep | Penn Medicine

What is Chiropractic? | Palmer 

What Is an Orthopedic Doctor? | University of Utah Health

Epsom Salt: Potential Benefits and How to Use It | Cleveland Clinic 

Myth or Reality—Transdermal Magnesium? | NCBI 

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