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How to Sleep with a Rotator Cuff Injury and Shoulder Pain


How to Sleep with a Rotator Cuff Injury

Ideally, you would grow sleepy in the evening and climb into bed at a reasonable hour. As you lie in bed, you would feel calm and relaxed. Within a few minutes, you fall asleep and stay asleep all night long. Eight hours later, you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a new day. However, if you’re experiencing any type of pain or injury, this can feel out of reach. This is particularly true if your injured body part is where you are resting your weight as you lie in bed, like your shoulder. Nearly every step in your plan to get a good night of sleep is made more difficult with shoulder pain. There is good news, though. Sleeping with rotator cuff injury isn’t as impossible as it may seem, as long as you have a bit of expert advice to help. 

What is rotator cuff injury?

Your shoulder connects your arm to your torso with a ball and socket-type joint. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround this joint. A rotator cuff injury can cause anything from a dull ache in the shoulder to sharp pain when you try to lift your arm away from your body.

Common reasons for a rotator cuff injury 

According to Cedars-Sinai, there are two main causes of rotator cuff tears: injury and degeneration. An injury to the rotator cuff, such as a tear, could happen suddenly. One example would be if you tripped, fell, and landed on an outstretched hand. On the contrary, it may also develop over time due to repetitive activities. This happens commonly to people who have jobs that require repeatedly performing overhead motions, like painters and carpenters. Rotator cuff tears may also happen due to the natural aging process. The degeneration of tissue happens to all of us eventually.

Pain that keeps coming back, especially when lifting your arm over your head, cracking sounds when moving your arm, muscle weakness in one arm, and a limited ability to move your arm mean it’s time you consider how to manage your rotator cuff injury and heal as quickly as possible. While you certainly want to visit your doctor and follow all of his or her advice, your body has a built-in way to heal. You need to go to sleep!

How to sleep with a rotator cuff injury

Pain at rest and at night, particularly if lying on the affected shoulder, is one of the most common symptoms of a rotator cuff injury. You still need sleep, though. Your body needs to heal, and this healing is made possible when your body gets the deep sleep it needs. It’s a cycle you cannot afford to break. This is why learning how to sleep with a shoulder injury is so important. Consider the following:

Adjust your sleeping position

Sleeping on your side means laying on your hips and shoulders all night long. Pain that prevents you from sleeping on your injured side means you either need to adjust your sleeping position or go without sleep. The choice is pretty obvious! Switching positions while you sleep can start to alleviate shoulder pain from sleeping on the side. If you need help lying on your back for the foreseeable future, piling up pillows or raising the torso on your adjustable bed base can help.

Make sure you’re sleeping on the right mattress

Sleeping on your side can place additional pressure on your shoulder, causing irritation or pain if you’re sleeping on a mattress that doesn’t give you the support you need. It is quite possible your current mattress is making your shoulder pain worse or at the very least, not helping it. The shoulder you are laying on can press too hard into the mattress, creating misalignment and pain the next morning. You want to make sure you’re supported all night long by sleeping on the right mattress. A firm mattress can help alleviate the risk of further injury to your rotator cuff. We have dozens of Firm comfort level mattresses to choose from, including the Tempur-Pedic ProAdapt Firm Mattress, Stearns & Foster Rockwell Luxury Firm Mattress, City Mattress Saguaro Firm Mattress, and many more.

Our recommended pillows

City Mattress carries over one hundred new pillows choices, meaning we are sure to have the best pillow for a rotator cuff injury. Did you know that they make side sleeper pillows especially for people who want to sleep on their side without added pressure to their shoulder? It is true! We have several that we recommend, including the Malouf L Shape Gel Dough Pillow. This is perfect for side sleepers, as it has an ergonomic design that cradles your head while supporting your neck and back. This side pillow is not just shaped well; the material inside is worth talking about too. Dough memory foam infused with gel beads creates a cooler, softer memory foam. Other great side sleeper pillows that won’t injure your shoulder include the Sleep and Beyond’s myDual Natural Wool Side Sleeper Pillow, Borden Textile Cooling U-shaped Pillow, and Avana Uno Memory Foam Snuggle Pillow for Side Sleepers

Our Sleep Experts are here to help! Knowing how to sleep with a shoulder injury is only the beginning. Now, you need to shop for the right sleep essentials to make your slumber possible. You can do so by shopping our online options and chatting with a City Mattress team member via the website. If you prefer, you can also come into a store in-person and be helped this way. The choice is yours!