Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Can Sleeping On A Bad Mattress Cause Shoulder Pain

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Sleeping Positions That Cause Elbow Pain And Restless Nights

Elbow PainGeoff Hunt, Certified Exercise Rehab Specialist

Sleep experts have been saying for many years now that you should aim to get 8 hours of sleep every night in order to function properly and be on your game the next day.

Unfortunately, there are things which can prevent you from getting a solid nights rest such as outside noise, a restless spouse or sleeping partner, a busy mind and perhaps even pain.

If you are suffering from elbow pain when sleeping, or are awaken at night because of it, let me tell you that you are not alone!

Now you are probably wondering

Will this type of elbow pain pass and go away on its own or is it a more serious condition that needs to be evaluated by your Doctor?

First of all I am no Doctor!

If your pain is so bad that you cant even straighten your arm, then by all means see your Doctor ASAP.

But if you dont have a money tree out back like me, then its time to think smarter and strategically.

You should take a closer look at your sleeping position.

Heres the thing:

You are either a stomach, back or side sleeper.

But thats just part of the story.

Your first step is to identify the position of your affected elbow when you fall asleep or wake with elbow pain during the night.

Without nailing this down, it can be extremely difficult to pinpoint how your sleeping position contributes to your elbow discomfort.

Do you normally fall asleep with your arm trapped or pinned under your body?

Is your arm bent or straight?

Heres the facts!

Consider Your Sleeping Position

A persons body type and sleeping position will impact the perceived firmness of a mattress as well as the support they need. For instance:

  • Lightweight sleepers who lie on their side may want a softer mattress to enjoy enough pressure relief around the shoulder
  • Lightweight stomach or back sleepers will probably be happy with a medium bed that balances comfort with support. Read our best mattress for lightweight sleepers page for more information.
  • Average-weight side sleepers may prefer a mattress thats between medium and medium-firm
  • Average-weight stomach and back sleepers should find the support they need on a medium-firm mattress
  • Heavy-weight side sleepers will find support and a touch of pressure relief on a medium-firm to firm mattress
  • Heavy-weight stomach or back sleepers will probably need a firm mattress in order to enjoy adequate spinal support

As a general rule, back and stomach sleepers need to prioritize spinal alignment, while side sleepers will want to emphasize pressure relief.

New Mattresses Have An Adjustment Period

“There is a transition period when you go from an old unsupportive mattress to a new supportive one,” says Wisconsin-based chiropractor Thomas Tozer.

If you were previously sleeping on a less-than-terrific mattress for years and years, your body likely got used to it, even though it wasn’t all that great for your back. When you move to a more supportive mattress, it may not feel quite as comfortable at the start, even though it’s much better for your back.

Think about how it feels to sit up straight after being hunched over for a long timethat’s similar to what happens when you switch from a saggy mattress to one that can keep your spine in a neutral, properly aligned position.

Here, one Saatva customer explains how it took three weeks to get used to their new mattress:

New Mattresses Take Time To Break In

What’s more, just like a good pair of shoes, a quality mattress has a break-in period. Components like springs and foams can be stiff at first but will soften up and conform to your body over time. It’s a sign, in fact, that the mattress is doing its job.

Here’s what one Saatva customer had to say about the break-in period of their new mattress:

The first week, it took a while to get used to the firmness of the mattress. I even thought about returning it as it felt the same as sleeping on the floor except in an elevated position. I decided to give it another week. This was crucial because the mattress DOES take time to break-in and conform to your body. It’s been exactly 9 weeks to the day and the mattress feels GREAT!!

Related: How to break in a mattress to get better sleep

Anatomy Of The Shoulder

4 Signs Your Mattress Might Be Causing Your Lower Back Pain

Your shoulder is a complex structure comprising of tendons, muscles, your shoulder blade , collarbone , and upper arm bone . Dr. Stephen Kishner, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation, says that the shoulder joint has a wide range of motion. Because of the complexity and function of the shoulder joint, it is quite unstable and prone to injury.

Dr. Kishner explains that one common injury affecting the shoulder blade is to the rotator cuff a group of muscles and tendons that give strength to the shoulder. A torn or tendon inflammation can cause intense pain and can be a major reason for shoulder pain after sleeping.

What Mattress Type Is Best For A Side Sleeper

When you sleep on your side, you need a mattress that supports your curved areas: your neck and your waist. The muscles and ligaments of your back heal themselves during sleep. Good sleep posture and spine alignment promote the nightly healing and regenerative process. A supportive mattress helps keep your spine aligned during that restorative period and will have the biggest impact on your quality of sleep. But which mattress offers the best support for side sleepers?

Lets look at a few mattress types for side sleepers to consider:

Types And Causes Of Hip Pain

Hip pain can occur as a result of a wide range of medical conditions. Some people experience hip pain as a short-term issue while others deal with it over an extended period of months or years.

The pain can be felt in the hip, which may be indicative of a problem inside the actual joint, or around the hip, such as in the buttock or thigh, which is more often associated with issues in the surrounding tissue. Some hip pain is also referred from other parts of the body, which means that the problem does not originate directly in or around the hip itself.

The following sections describe some of the most common causes for hip pain; however, this is not an exhaustive list. Because of its effects on quality of life and the possibility that it is connected to a larger health concern, it is important for anyone with hip pain to review their symptoms with a doctor.

Put A Pillow Between Your Knees

One of the easiest ways to relieve pressure points as a side sleeper is to stick a pillow between your knees.

Pain in the legs and back is common among side sleepers because of a lack of support. When you sleep on your side, the lower half of your body is supporting the weight of your opposite side. When it comes to your hips and legs, your body takes on a buckled-leg stance all night which is bad for your joints.

Putting a pillow between your knees straightens your hips into healthy spinal alignment, reducing pressure on your back and throughout your body. Something as easy as straddling a pillow can offer near-instant pressure relief to help you get a great nights sleep.

How To Get Relief On A Budget

If youve identified that your current mattress is contributing to hip pain, youre likely ready to make a change. But at the end of the day, you have to be able to afford a mattress upgrade, and some people may worry that its just not in their budget.

Even if you arent able to splurge on a luxury mattress, you can still find relief. You can make the most of your spending with the following tips.

Back Neck And Shoulder Pain From A Tempurpedic Memory Foam Mattress

Important BlogsBack, Neck and Shoulder Pain from a Tempurpedic Memory Foam Mattress.

Hi Pete,We have a Tempurpedic mattress, which has not been very pleasant to sleep on.  After several months of discomfort, we purchased a three inch memory foam topper, with memory foam pillows, thinking that was our problem.  This situation has worsened and the bed is sleeping hot.  I now have neck pain and shoulder pain, and my wife has lower back pain and shoulder pains.  Both of our arms and hands tend to tingle and fall asleep.  Im currently up typing this, because I can not sleep, due to the severe pain in my left shoulder and left side of my neck.  Ive noticed you mentioned using a latex topper.Will that help us and why would it help our situation.  Please help, we are in pain!!! Thanks, Charles

What Mattresses Are Not Ideal For Shoulder Pain

While you might think a modern memory foam mattress sounds ideal, fitting to the contours of your body, it may not be suitable for a side sleeper. While exceptionally comfortable and useful when you dont want to disturb your partner sleeping beside you, memory foam may offer little pressure relief.

A memory foam mattress allows you to sink into the surface but will compress your shoulder and can create further discomfort. This can make these mattresses unsuitable if you are already experiencing shoulder pain.

Pick A Supportive Pillow

Picking the right pillow might just be the solution to your persistent pain. The most important thing is keeping your neck and spine aligned, based on your sleeping position.

A good sleeping posture is key to sleeping soundly, night after night, and to waking without pain and stiffness, says Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and noted sleep expert in a blog post on his website. Your pillow helps to support a healthy sleep posture.

So how do you choose the best pillow for you?

Your height, weight, and personal preferences will help determine what pillow you ultimately choose, but here are some general guidelines based on your sleeping position:

  • Side sleepers typically need the thickest/firmest pillow because they need to support their head and neck so that it lays in the middle of the shoulders. A rounded pillow may be a good choice for side sleepers to have high support around the neck and lower under the head.
  • Back sleepers need flatter pillows that support the natural curvature of the neck and spine and promote a neutral alignment.
  • Lastly, stomach sleepers would benefit from pillows no more than 3 in height, or they risk putting additional strain on their neck .

When looking at the materials of pillows, feather pillows and memory foam pillows can provide the support and comfort to help reduce your neck pain.

Overall, try to avoid a very stiff or high pillow. This can force the neck to remain flexed while your sleep and lead to additional neck pain.

Try Changing Up Your Sleeping Position

Can sleeping on a bad mattress cause back pain?

Depending on the cause and nature of your hip pain, you can try to change your sleeping position. For example, if youre a side sleeper dealing with a bruise or inflammation, sleeping on your back or side, or at the very least avoiding the injured side, may help fight pain.

If youre a back or stomach sleeper with a soft mattress and cant afford a new bed, you can try switching to side-sleeping. The softer mattress may be better at cushioning pressure points, including your hips, and keeping your lower back aligned.

Giving a new sleeping position a shot is worth a try, but it wont always pan out. Many people involuntarily move back to their traditional sleeping position during the night, and in those cases, a long-term sleeping position change may fail to take hold.

Acute Or Chronic Shoulder Injury

The most common reason for shoulder pain at night is an injury to your upper limbs or shoulder blade.

For example, you could suffer an acute shoulder injury if you fall on an outstretched arm or injure your shoulders by lifting heavy items. This can cause sharp intense pain in your shoulder joint that seems to get worse when you lie down in bed.

Other shoulder injuries can occur over time and result in chronic shoulder pain that lasts longer than 6 months. Because of the nature of the injuries, it could seem that there is no reason for waking in the middle of the night with a sore shoulder. The journal American Family Physician reports that arthritis, rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability, and overuse injuries can cause dull, achy night pain.

Choose A Supportive Mattress

A supportive mattress can go a long way in keeping you comfortable and in proper alignment while you sleep. The kind of support you need from a mattress has a lot to do with your body type and your sleeping position.

Body Type
Stomach or BackFirm

Lightweight sleepers are typically best supported on softer mattresses, while heavier people need a firmer mattress to offer the best support.

Side sleepers need softer mattresses that contour to their body to alleviate pressure in the hips and shoulders, while back and stomach sleepers need a more firm mattress to keep their spine aligned.

RELATED: Best Mattress For Lower Back Pain And Sciatica

Choosing The Best Pillows For Neck And Shoulder Pain

In addition to choosing a mattress for shoulder pain, you should look to buy a comfortable pillow for neck and shoulder pain relief because pillows keep your head in line with your spine and prevent your neck muscles from straining. Buckwheat, latex, down, and memory foam pillows are best for relieving nerve pain because they contour to your head and neck and provide excellent pressure relief.

Tips To Avoid Shoulder Pain From Sleeping Side

How do you sleep at night? If youre a side sleeper who sleeps on their left side, pain in left shoulder blade could be eased by sleeping on your opposite side. Remember to put a pillow behind your back to prevent you from rolling over to the affected shoulder in your sleep.   

How to sleep on your side without hurting your shoulder:

  • A quality pillow under your head will support the delicate neck area, preventing additional pain radiating to the shoulders
  • Dont sleep on your stomach as this puts your shoulder out of alignment 
  • a pillow between your knees helps to align the hips  
  • Sleep on a soft and supportive mattress that provides pressure relief  

Remedies For A Stiff Neck After Waking Up

Some remedies for a stiff neck in the morning include:

  • Ice or heat therapy. Applying ice shortly after a neck strain may help limit the swelling. Ice applications tend to be best for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Heat therapy, such as taking a warm shower or using a heating pad, helps loosen and relax the muscles, which may also reduce pain and improve range of motion.
  • See Medications for Back Pain and Neck Pain

  • Gentle stretching or self-massage. After finding some initial pain relief, further loosening of the muscles and ligaments may be achieved with some stretching and/or massage. Some stretches cannot fully be completed due to the necks pain and stiffness, which is OK. The goal is to gradually increase the flexibility without causing more pain. Similarly, the hand and fingers can be used to massage the necks sore area so long as it does not increase pain.

    See 4 Easy Stretches for a Stiff Neck

  • Pain assessment and activity modification. After being awake for a while and applying these stiff neck remedies, an assessment can be made as to whether the pain and stiffness are improving. If neck stiffness still prevents significant amounts of movement in one or more directions, or is still exhibiting sharp or burning pain, it is advised to avoid any strenuous activities for the day and limit movements that increase pain. Walking and moving around are still encouraged, because full bed rest may cause the stiff neck and pain to last longer.

How To Sleep With Shoulder Pain

The amount and quality of sleep that you get at night greatly impacts on your general health. Knowing how to prevent shoulder pain while sleeping can help you feel less fatigued during the day and have more energy. So, its for shoulder pain.

Dr. William C. Shiel on MedicineNet says that people who are prone to being disturbed because of shoulder pain while sleeping should not sleep with their arm extended above their head. Also, the best sleeping position for shoulder pain includes avoiding sleeping on your stomach. This helps to put less strain on your upper back and shoulders.

Because your bed can be a source of shoulder pain while sleeping, you should make sure that it is comfortable without being too soft. Studies have shown that a medium-firm mattress can help reduce clinically diagnosed shoulder pain.

If you have rotator cuff injuries, you may find it easier to avoid the night-time shoulder pain when sleeping on your back or on the side that isnt affected.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Memory Foam Mattress

The soft memory foam mattresses cause back pain, neck pain, and bad for the side & back sleepers. And, the firm memory foam mattresses can cause joint pain and feel uncomfortable while sleeping on the side. Few memory foam mattresses are hot and cant pass airflow perfectly. You have to choose the get memory foam mattresses that are cool and comfortable.

What Is Causing Your Shoulder Pain

Best Mattress for Shoulder Pain (August

Some of the most common reasons for shoulder pain at night are;

  • Rotator cuff injury: a strain or tear in the tendons, muscles, and shoulder joints of the rotator cuff. 


  • Deep pain in the shoulder that can feel like a dull ache
  • Pain is more severe when using the affected arm
  • Loss or diminished motion in the affected arm
  • Sleeping on the affected shoulder is impossible  
    • Shoulder bursitis: inflammation of the fluid filled sac, bursa, that protects the rotator cuff tendons. 


  • Range of motion is limited  
  • Pain and stiffness gets worse and can take years to recover    
  • How Do I Treat Neck And Shoulder Pain

    Most neck and shoulder pain passes within a few days or weeks with the help of home remedies. Over-the-counter pain reliever, hot and cold compresses, pain-relief ointments, and self-massaging combat achiness. Having good posture, avoiding heavy lifting, and gentle stretching are other ways to ease your pain.

    My Problem Isnt Related To Sleeping: Other Causes Of Shoulder Pain

    Besides sleeping in the wrong position, there are other factors that can result in shoulder pain, including injury or trauma, repeated motion, medical conditions, and stress. Many of these are the result of an injury to the shoulder either acutely or as a build-up over time. However, there are also medical reasons why the shoulder may experience pain as a result of a problem elsewhere in the body:

    Poor Posture: If your thoracic spine is constantly bent or hunched over, you can experience spinal stiffness that will affect your shoulder. This type of stiffness is commonly caused by poor posture during the day. Constant leaning over our smartphones and computers leaves our thoracic spine bent for hours. Poor posture inhibits spine and rib cage mobility, putting us at risk of more shoulder injuries. If your computer is not already at eye level, try a computer stand or a stack of books that will lift the monitor up. This way, you wont need to lean over to work.

    Repetitive Movements: If your job requires you to do heavy lifting or repetitive movements day in and day out, you are at a greater risk of experiencing shoulder pain. For example, shelf-stockers are likely to experience shoulder pain due to the constant wear-and-tear on the same joints and muscles day after day.

    Benefits Of Side Sleeping

    To be fair, side sleeping isnt all evil. Various studies prove that there are more benefits to it than the downsides. The key point here is to properly sleep on your side with the best mattress for side sleepers with shoulder pain.

    Here are some good things about side slumber:

    Good for heartburn

    Experts found that sleeping on your side will help calm heartburn symptoms. Although solid proof is yet to be established, its said that side sleeping on the left eases the lower esophagus.

    Stops Snoring

    This is a known benefit of side sleeping. When you sleep on your back, the soft palate and the base of the tongue collapses back to the throat. This makes a louder vibrating sound when youre asleep. In comparison, when you sleep on the side, the vibrations are reduced.

    Lymph draining

    When you sleep on the left side, many believed that youre helping your body detoxify. Its thought that since the thoracic duct is located on the left side of the body, the lymph can easily drain and be flushed out of the body.

    There are more benefits to side sleeping as long as the best mattress for shoulder pain is used. But as much as this sleeping position is great, the preference varies from person to person. Take note that some people have to sleep on their sides for medical reasons. Pregnant women who are past their first trimester are discouraged from sleeping on their back.

    #reason 1: Your Mattress Is Too Soft Or Too Firm

    If you are using a mattress, you know the common factor firmness. It determines how soft or hard the mattress is. Mainly, two common types of firmness are available on the market such as soft and firm. Some people like soft mattresses and some prefer firm mattresses. Sometimes, the firmness may be one of the major reasons for causing your lower back pain.

    If you are using a too firm mattress, it does not sink enough and you feel discomfort and pain on the hips, back, spine, neck, and shoulder. On the other hand, if your mattress is too soft, it cant hold your spine perfectly and aligned it in a wrong position which may cause your lower back pain.

    Solution 1: Pick The Right Firmness of Your Mattress

    So, you have to choose the right firmness while buying a new mattress. Here are some helpful tips for you to choose the perfect firmness of your mattress.

    #Soft Mattress

    Soft mattresses are perfect for side sleepers because it removes the pressure on the hips and shoulders while sleeping on the side. This is why a side sleeper can get more comfort and perfect support to the back & spine in the side sleeping position. The lightweight sleepers and slim sleepers can use the soft mattress for better pressure relief, ultimate comfort, and great back support. Do not use soft mattresses if you are a heavy sleeper like over 200 lbs. It may sink more and aligns your spine incorrectly and cause lower back pain.

    #Medium Firm Mattress

    #Firm Mattress

    Solution 2: Make Your Firm Mattress Soft

    C Invest In An Ergonomic Pillow

    Get yourself an ergonomically-made soft pillow. It comes in handy in helping you stay stable while you sleep and prevent you from rolling onto your hurting shoulder. A full-body sleeping pillow is the best when places between, under your knees, or around your back to give you extra support.

    Get a head pillow that will ensure your neck and head stay in a straight line with your spine. When you set your body in this position, you will be providing theres no tension on the neck, thus reducing the chances of getting a sore shoulder.

    The pillow also helps in reducing pressure on your shoulders, keeping them relaxed all night. If the sleep pillow does not cover your whole neck area, you can get a small, rolled towel under there for the support.

    Final Verdict!

    Now its up to you to find your best sleeping position for shoulder pain. The list isnt long, so you can try them all to find the most ideal for you. If youre still experiencing the pain, its best to seek help from your doctor dont suffer in silence!

    Sharing is caring!

    What Makes The Casper Stand Out

    • The Caspers Zoned Support system offers comfort and support in the right areas.
    • The Casper is softer under the shoulder area and should relieve pain there.
    • The mattress is a the best mattress for combination sleepers with neck and shoulder pain. 
    • The responsive foam on top should make it easy to move around on the Casper mattress.

    Read the full Casper mattress review

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