The Best Sleeping Position for Shoulder Pain and other Aches

Nobody likes pain, wherever you may feel it on the body. The pain might be a result of anything – sprains, strains or stiffness. They can hurt throughout the day but the pain might be at its worst late at night, when you’re trying to sleep. Sleep is where these aches heal so the fact that it hurts to lie in your bed is a problem too big to ignore! So what is the best sleeping position for shoulder pain, back pain and neck pain?

In this article, we take a look at the best positions that will reduce the discomfort and help you fall asleep pain-free.

Best sleeping position for shoulder pain

Your shoulder pain can prevent you from falling asleep, especially if you’re the type to sleep on your side. So what is the best sleeping position for shoulder pain available to you?

Sleeping on your back

Sleeping on your back is considered the best sleeping position for shoulder pain, as it does not place any stress or pressure on the affected area. It also helps keep your spine in a neutral position which prevents any further aches to your body. You can place a small pillow under your shoulder for extra support and elevation.

Sleeping on your stomach

Simply sleeping on your stomach is not generally recommended, but with some extra props you can get a good sleep without aggravating your shoulder. A pillow under your hips can keep your spine aligned and propping your shoulder blades up with a small rolled up towel can also help alleviate pain during the night.

Sleeping on the unaffected side

If you must sleep on your side, then do so on your healthy shoulder. You should also try to lean back some so as not to place the full weight of your body onto your shoulder. Hug a pillow between your legs to also keep pressure off the rest of your body.

Best sleeping position for back pain

Back pain can be the most debilitating and stressful form of muscle pain. It can be especially bad in the night when you’re trying to find a comfortable position to rest. If you suffer from back pain, try some of these positions.

Sleeping on the side with a pillow

Try shifting your body so that it rests on the side, with your shoulder and hips absorbing the weight of your body. By placing a pillow between the legs, you will keep your hips, pelvis and spine all in better natural alignment.

Sleeping in the fetal position

Back pain is a result of many things, one of these are herniated discs. Herniated discs occur when the disc is pushed out of its normal position in your spine and vertebrae. Curling up in a fetal position can help open the space between vertebrae, allowing more room for your discs to move into its normal position.

Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees

While it may seem counter-intuitive, sleeping on your back can actually relieve back pain – especially in the lower back. This is because your weight is evenly distributed across your entire upper body. Body pillows under the knees can increase this effect as it helps maintain that weight distribution.

Sleep in a reclined position

If you have the luxury of being able to sleep in a recliner or an adjustable bed, sleeping in a reclined position can alleviate pain. This is because it reduces pressure on the spine and your vertebrae. You can also opt to prop yourself up with pillows to achieve a similar reclined position.

Best sleeping position for neck pain

You tend not to worry about your neck until you feel the constricting pain of a stiff or sore neck and shoulder. These sleeping positions will help you sleep through the pain and enjoy a restful night.

Sleeping on your side

This is a great way to keep your head neutral and straight. This prevents your neck from bending or twisting too much as you sleep. Making sure your pillow is not too high nor too low can also help keep this straight head position.

Sleeping on your back

Similar to sleeping on your side, sleeping on your back helps keep your head neutral which relieves neck pain. The important thing is to make sure your pillow is not too thick or high, as this might cause your neck to point downwards which only makes the soreness worse.

Do NOT sleep on your stomach

Sorry stomach sleepers, if you are experiencing pain in the neck you might want to switch to other sleeping positions for a while. Sleeping on your stomach forces you to keep your head turned to one side for hours at a time, which puts a lot of stress on an already sore neck.

Other tips for sleeping with pain

Apart from adjusting your sleeping position, here are a couple of extra pointers for sleeping with bodily aches and pains.

OTC Medicine

Painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol can help reduce the pain of your muscle aches, especially if taken before you sleep. However, just like any other type of medication, be sure to follow the instructions to a tee to avoid unnecessary complications.

Heat pads

Heat pads work to improve circulation, increase flexibility and reduce pain in sore areas. Applying a heat pad before bedtime can help relax the muscles and make it easier for you to get into a comfortable sleeping position.


Massages are also beneficial for sore muscles as they relieve pain and promote relaxation, making falling asleep easier. Since late night massages are hard to come by, having your own electric massager to enjoy a bedtime massage is particularly useful.

Say goodnight to muscle pain

After reading this article, hopefully you’ve come away with the best sleeping positions for shoulder pain, back pain and neck pain – as well as some other tips to help you sleep through the night. Want more articles such as this one? Head on over to the OSIM Wellness Blog to find informative blogs that help you live a healthier lifestyle.




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