How to sleep with shoulder pain?

If your career involves you sitting or standing in one position for hours upon hours at a time, the chances are you’re going to be suffering a lot of neck and shoulder pain. Shoulder pain is an especially evil problem for truck drivers who stay in mostly the same position day after day. 

Trying to sit is a nightmare, but trying to lay down for some much-needed rest is a veritable night terror. Every angle hurts, no position is comfortable and you’re exhausted and frustrated from the attempts. What can you do to ease your discomfort?

Well, here are eight different methods that can ease your shoulder pain and help you learn how to sleep with annoying shoulder pain.

1- Get Good Head Support

A good pillow can make all the difference in your sleep quality, especially if you have shoulder pain. A high-quality pillow not only supports your head, but it also helps to keep your body properly aligned. This also aligns your shoulders, easing up the tension and allowing the muscles some breathing room. 

Consider rolling up a towel under your neck for added balance. This will add even more support to your neck, taking even more strain and tension from your shoulders. When it comes to figuring out how to sleep with shoulder pain, a good pillow can make all the difference.

2- Switch to Latex Mattress

Some people deal with the same kind of pain so often that most general methods won’t work for them. If you’re one of those people with chronic shoulder pain, you might try a latex mattress. These springy, firmer mattresses are known for their ability to encourage proper spine alignment during sleep. 

The good bounciness of the mattress keeps the joints in place as well. Of course, it isn’t going to magically fix your problem, but if it’s a recurring issue, it might be a good investment.

3- Don't Sleep on Your Stomach

This one might be a challenge for some people. Many are actually most comfortable on their stomachs. This position actually causes your shoulders to shift forward, creating a painful misalignment that can actually make the pain worse. It can even make the pain spread upward into the neck. 

It may not be the most ideal position for you, but sleeping on your back is honestly the best solution since it aligns your shoulders properly and eases them. This helps the pain to fade slightly. Combine back sleeping with a really good pillow and you’re probably looking at considerably faster healing times.

4- Do Light Stretches

First thing when you wake up, do some gentle, light stretches in that area. Insufficient blood flow to that portion of your body won’t be helpful. Stretches can encourage proper circulation in there once again, which eases up the stiffness. You don’t even need a gym membership or equipment to do this. 

Simply stretch and ease the stiffness from your shoulders as soon as you sit up for the day. It shouldn’t take longer than five minutes or so to complete and it helps your muscles adjust after being dormant for several hours just before. Stretches can make figuring out how to sleep with shoulder pain a little more bearable.

5- Try Yoga

Don’t scoff, this technique is renowned for its gentle, languid stretches that can be customized to help you where you need it most. It’s all soft, slow, easy movements designed to put as little strain on your body as possible. It might be more helpful than you think. 

You can either sign up for actual yoga meetings or even follow along with instructors on YouTube from the comfort of your own home.

You might be surprised by just how good you’ll feel once you’ve finished a few sessions. It’s said to help everything from healing to metabolizing to even memory retention.

6- Heat the Area

Same with ice, heat can have a calming, easing sensation on your poor, overworked muscles. A hot compress will not only feel wonderful, but it will also soothe your body.

Apply a compress for up to twenty minutes and then follow it up with gentle stretching to increase blood flow and encourage healing. Repeat this process as needed, and pair with ice if you choose. The two complement each other brilliantly.

7- Apply an Ice Pack

You might have already tried this one since it’s a classic go-to, but don’t pass it by just yet if you have. It’s important to be careful how long you ice for.

Placing the pack on the afflicted area for just fifteen minutes is quite sufficient. After this, carefully rub the area with your fingers. Repeat this process every twenty minutes as needed. 

Figuring out how to sleep with shoulder pain will be a little less daunting once your muscles are numbed up enough for you to actually fall asleep.

8- Your Best Bet is to Talk to Your Doctor

In the worst-case scenario, your shoulder pain only gets worse or persists, there’s only one thing left to do; talk to your doctor. Your doctor can professionally examine you and even run some tests to rule anything more serious out.

Once they have a general idea of what’s going on, they can begin to help you. Assuming nothing more sinister is at play, they may prescribe any number of things, including items on this list. 

They may even encourage you to seek physical therapy, particularly if the problem is extensive. You may walk out of the office with either some home-remedy advice, or you might have to pick up a prescription for pain medicine.

Some cases of severe muscle strain require steroids in order to relax them and allow them to heal themselves properly. This is a humorously annoying procedure because the steroids are usually injected straight into the upper butt. 

Fortunately, you get to choose which side (yay?) but it will still hurt for a while afterward. No one likes getting shots in the butt, so take care of your shoulder.


Shoulder pain at night time can be excruciating as it is frustrating. We absolutely require sleep in order to function and it's difficult to do that when we're tossing and turning from pain. Fortunately, shoulder pain doesn't usually last long and, if treated, goes away like nothing happened. Try what works best for you and just give your shoulders a break once in a while.