Relieve Shoulder Ache While Sleeping: Simple Solutions

Do you wake up at night because your shoulder hurts? If so, you’re not alone. Many people face shoulder ache at night. This can happen because of things like bursitis, biceps tendonitis, or rotator cuff injuries. Sometimes, the way you sleep makes it worse. Putting too much pressure on your shoulder by sleeping on your side can be bad.

Knowing what’s causing your pain and finding the right fixes can help. You can get advice from a bone and muscle doctor. They can point out what’s wrong and show you simple ways to make your shoulder feel better when you sleep.

Key Takeaways

  • Shoulder pain at night can be caused by a variety of issues, including bursitis, tendonitis, and rotator cuff injuries.
  • The way you sleep is important. Pressure on your sore shoulder can make the pain worse.
  • Changing how you sleep, using pillows for help, and good sleep habits can ease the pain.
  • It’s important to get checked by a pro and find the right treatment if your pain is lasting or really bad.
  • Doing things to stop the pain before it starts, like not doing the same motion over and over, can make you sleep better.

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain at Night

Nighttime shoulder pain can be really annoying. It often comes from different reasons. One main cause is sleeping on your side for too long. This can make issues like bursitis, biceps tendonitis, and rotator cuff injuries feel worse.


Bursitis is when the bursa, a fluid-filled sac in the shoulder, gets inflamed. It can be a key reason for shoulder discomfort while sleeping. People with bursitis feel pain and tenderness in one spot. This gets worse if the area is pressed on.

Biceps Tendonitis

Biceps tendonitis comes from using the biceps tendon too much. It can cause shoulder joint pain during sleep. Pain is often felt when the arm is in specific positions.

Rotator Cuff Injuries

Another issue is rotator cuff injuries. These injuries affect the tendons that keep the shoulder stable. They cause nighttime shoulder aches.

Overuse from sports or work, like throwing things, often leads to these injuries.

The Role of Sleeping Position in Shoulder Ache

How you sleep matters a lot when it comes to shoulder pain. Some ways of sleeping can make your shoulder hurt more. Source three says certain positions can add to your pain.

Side Sleeping and Shoulder Pain

If you sleep on your side, your shoulder could feel extra pressure. A study showed that 67% of those with shoulder pain slept on their sore side.

Sleeping on the Affected Shoulder

Sleeping right on a hurt shoulder can make it feel worse. It gets pressed with no support and could hurt more. This can make the shoulder more swell and feel pain.

Rotator Cuff Injury and Shoulder Ache Sleeping

Do you ever wake up with a sore shoulder at night? A common reason is a rotator cuff injury. This is a group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder. When they’re hurt or inflamed, it can cause a lot of pain, especially while you sleep.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injury

If you have a rotator cuff injury, you might feel a dull, achy pain in your shoulder. This pain can also go down your arm. It gets worse when you move your arm over your head. Even sleeping on that side can hurt. You might also feel stiff and weak in your shoulder.

Treatment Options

What can you do about a rotator cuff injury? First, you should rest and put ice on it. Taking anti-inflammatory medicine can help. Physical therapy is great for getting your shoulder strong again. Sometimes, the doctor might give you a corticosteroid shot. When it’s really bad, surgery could be needed. This would fix the tear and make the pain go away.

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If your shoulder hurts at night, you shouldn’t ignore it. Getting help early can stop more damage and pain. It’s important to treat shoulder impingement sleeping to keep your shoulder healthy.

Shoulder Bursitis and Nighttime Aches

Shoulder bursitis is a common cause of nighttime shoulder aches. It happens when the bursa, a cushion in the shoulder joint, gets swollen. This can be from an injury or doing a movement over and over again. You might feel pain, soreness, and stiffness. It can get worse when moving or if you lay on that shoulder.

Causes of Shoulder Bursitis

If you sleep on your side a lot, your shoulder might hurt. This can make the bursal tissues inflamed. You may feel pain and have trouble moving your shoulder. Repetitive actions can lead to small tears, tendinitis, and eventually a tear in the rotator cuff.

Managing Bursitis Pain at Night

At first, doctors might say to rest and take some medicine. They may suggest physical therapy too. But, sometimes you might need injections or surgery. This is to help you stop feeling nighttime shoulder aches. It’s also important to sleep well, use the right sleeping position, and do light shoulder exercises.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome and Sleep Discomfort

Shoulder impingement syndrome is when the soft tissues around your rotator cuff get stuck. It happens between the bones of your shoulder. Doing movements over your head leads to this. You feel pain on the top or outside of your shoulder. It hurts more at night or makes you feel weak.

Causes of Impingement Syndrome

Impingement comes from the rotator cuff tendons getting hurt and worn out. This can cause big tears later on. Sleeping on the side for a long time can also make it worse. That’s because it presses and rubs your shoulder in a bad way.

Alleviating Impingement Pain During Sleep

To help, you need to reduce the swelling and make your shoulder move better. Rest and physiotherapy are key, along with possible shots or surgery for bad cases. Changing how you sleep is important too. Not sleeping on your side can lessen the pain at night.

Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder and Sleeping Ache

Osteoarthritis of the shoulder happens when the joint’s cartilage wears down. This can lead to nighttime shoulder aches and shoulder joint pain during sleep. At first, the pain is more when moving. But it can bother you even when resting or sleeping.

Symptoms of Shoulder Osteoarthritis

People with shoulder osteoarthritis feel pain when moving their arm. They also don’t sleep very well because of the pain. Having a hard time moving the arm is also a sign of this issue.

Treatment Approaches

Managing shoulder osteoarthritis might need over-the-counter pain meds and therapy. Injections and surgery can be options if needed. Tests like X-rays and MRIs help see how bad it is.

Non-Surgical TreatmentsSurgical Treatments
  • Rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Range-of-motion exercises
  • Moist heat application
  • Ice therapy
  • Corticosteroid medications
  • Total shoulder arthroplasty (replacement)
  • Hemiarthroplasty (replacement of humerus head)
  • Resection arthroplasty (bone removal)

Surgery can help but has risks like infections and anesthesia issues. It’s key to team up with an orthopedic expert. Together, you can pick the best care for your shoulder osteoarthritis.

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Frozen Shoulder and Nighttime Shoulder Ache Sleeping

Frozen shoulder can cause a lot of pain at night. This happens when the tissue around the shoulder joint gets thick and limits movement. It often comes after the shoulder has been still for a while.

Stages of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder moves through three stages. First, the shoulder starts to freeze up. Then, it gets really stiff and painful. Finally, it starts to get better. The pain tends to get worse at night, which makes sleep hard.

Managing Frozen Shoulder Pain at Night

To deal with the shoulder pain at night, you need to try a few things. First, you might need medicine, physical therapy, or sometimes even surgery. Taking anti-inflammatory medicine and using a heating pad can help a lot. Also, try sleeping on your back with your arms down or on your side with a pillow under the sore shoulder. This can make you more comfy.

Doing easy stretches before bed is a good idea. It helps keep your shoulder moving and less painful at night. By treating the root problem and using these tips, you can sleep better. Even if you have frozen shoulder, it’s possible to have good sleep.

Tips for Better Sleep with Shoulder Pain

Are you having trouble sleeping due to shoulder pain? There are many ways to help you sleep better. It’s important to target the reasons your shoulder hurts and why you’re not sleeping well.

Adjusting Sleeping Position

Don’t sleep on the sore shoulder. Try sleeping on your back or the other side. Use a pillow between your knees or behind your back. It can keep you from rolling onto the shoulder that hurts.

Using Pillows for Support

Pillows can work wonders for shoulder pain when sleeping. Try different ways of using them. For example, hug a pillow if you sleep on your side. Or you can place a pillow under your arm for shoulder pain relief at night.

Staying Active and Gentle Exercises

Even if your shoulders hurt at night, moving is good for you. Add gentle shoulder stretching to your day. This can make you stronger and more flexible. Exercises like shoulder shrugs, shoulder rolls, and pec stretches are great.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relief

Take over-the-counter pain meds like acetaminophen to ease pain from sleeping positions. It can help you sleep better. Remember to take the medicine 30-60 minutes before bed for it to work well.

Good Sleep Habits

Stick to a regular sleep schedule and avoid caffeine and nicotine. Also, cut down on screen time before you sleep. Doing calm things like reading or a bath can relax you for better sleep, even with your shoulder pain.

Prevention Strategies for Shoulder Ache Sleeping

Waking up with shoulder pain can be really annoying. But, there are things you can do to feel better. If you find out why it hurts and stop it early, you’ll sleep better and keep your shoulders healthy.

Avoiding Repetitive Motions

Stop doing the same shoulder moves over and over. This can hurt the joint. If your daily work or fun activities use your shoulders a lot, take breaks. Giving your muscles time to relax helps prevent things like shoulder impingement or bursitis. These can hurt at night.

Taking Breaks

It’s also key to rest your shoulders often. Doesn’t matter if you’re into sports, do physical work, or sit at a desk, take breaks. Simple stretches, a quick rub, or even a short walk can help your shoulders recover.

Exercising and Strengthening Shoulders

To avoid shoulder ache in bed, working out your shoulders is smart. Focus on exercises that help the rotator cuff and other shoulder muscles. This makes them strong and stops night pains.

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Proper Lifting Techniques

Lifting things right is important. Keep your back straight, use your stomach muscles, and let your legs carry most of the weight. Be careful not to stretch up high or twist a lot. These moves strain your shoulders and can bring on shoulder bursitis.

Doing these daily can keep your shoulders in good shape. You’ll sleep better without the pain.


Nighttime shoulder ache can make you feel frustrated and stop you from sleeping well. But there are many things you can do to help. You should learn about the common causes like rotator cuff injuries and osteoarthritis. Then, try to change how you sleep, use pillows for support, and stay active.

For bad or lasting shoulder pain at night, seeing a doctor who knows about bones and muscles can be good. They can help find the real reason for your pain. They might tell you to not make the same movements over and over or to sleep in a better way. This could make you sleep better and feel less pain at night.

It’s important to do things to help your shoulder pain. With the right help, you can fight the pain and sleep better. This way, you can have better nights without waking up because of shoulder pain.


What are the common causes of shoulder pain at night?

Nighttime shoulder pain can come from different sources. These may include bursitis, tendonitis, and injuries. Sleeping on the shoulder can make these conditions worse.

How does sleeping position affect shoulder pain?

Lying on the sore shoulder or sleeping on your side can increase pain. Changing your position and using pillows for support is wise. It helps reduce the stress on your shoulder.

What are the symptoms of a rotator cuff injury that can cause nighttime shoulder ache?

Rotator cuff injuries may cause dull aches and pain with arm movements. You might find it hard to sleep if you roll on the sore shoulder. Treating it early with rest and therapy is often recommended.

How does shoulder bursitis contribute to nighttime shoulder pain?

Shoulder bursitis makes your shoulder hurt more when you move or press on it. Pain and stiffness are common symptoms. Sleeping on the affected shoulder can worsen these feelings.

What is shoulder impingement syndrome and how can it affect sleep?

Shoulder impingement leads to irritation and pain with arm movements. This can result in shoulder pain that gets worse at night.

How does osteoarthritis of the shoulder contribute to nighttime shoulder pain?

Osteoarthritis can make your shoulder hurt more with most movements. Over time, the pain might bother you even at night.

What is frozen shoulder and how can it affect sleep?

Frozen shoulder limits your shoulder’s movement and causes pain. It might hurt more at night, making sleep hard.

What are some tips for getting better sleep with shoulder pain?

To sleep better with shoulder pain, avoid lying on the sore shoulder. Use pillows for support. Stay active with light exercises. Over-the-counter pain meds and good sleep habits can also help.

How can shoulder pain be prevented to avoid nighttime aches?

To prevent shoulder pain, avoid overusing your shoulder. Take breaks when needed. Strengthen and stretch your shoulders. Follow safe lifting practices. This can keep your shoulders healthy and prevent nighttime discomfort.