finally a good night's sleep

shop pillows

Quick Guide to Side Sleeping (Arm Numbness, Ergonomic Pillows, and Underlying Issues)

Do you ever wake up to find that your arm has decided to hit the snooze? Your crooked limb feels dead and heavy. And, you experience that tingling, aching sensation as you untuck your arm with difficulty. Are you tired of having this happen?

To help you with this problem, I am going to explore how to sleep on your side without arm falling asleep.

What Is Happening when Your Arm Falls Asleep?

Paresthesia is the technical term used to describe a sleeping arm. Paresthesia happens in most instances when pressure from sleeping blocks the flow of blood to nerve fibers in parts of your anatomy. Nerves tend to go haywire when they are not getting fresh nutrients and oxygen.

When you sleep on your side, you are likely to put your arm under your body in some way. Most commonly, people will sleep with their bent arm under the pillow their head is resting on. This is where the blood flow to the nerve fibers gets blocked.

When you cut off circulation, energizing sugar and oxygen cannot reach the nerve fibers. This sends a chaotic message to your brain that is kind of like the static you might get on a television.

Rob J. Our Expert

The brain misinterprets the signals from the nerves in your arm when they are scrambled. This generates an array of sensations, such as warmth, numbness, and prickly pain. After you have repositioned your arm and blood rushes back in, the neural static only gets worse at first.

So, what can you do to “wake up” your arm? Once you relieve the pressure on your arm, the tingling and numbness should go away on their own. However, if you want to hasten the process, you can help restore feeling by moving your arm and hand.

How Can You Prevent Paresthesia?

There are a number of ways to continue to sleep on your side without your arm falling asleep. One sure fire way is to really work on your sleeping position.

Rob J. Our Expert

When sleeping, avoid placing your hand or arm below any part of your body, including your head. Since it can lead to numbness and tingling, avoid hanging your arm off the bed too. You can also find relief by experimenting with different mattresses and pillows.

You can reduce the risk of your arm falling asleep and increase your blood circulation by engaging in a daily cardiovascular exercise routine, such as jogging, swimming, or walking. You can also improve circulation by immersing your arm in alternating hot and cold water.

Avoid Paresthesia by Choosing an Ergonomic Pillow

Depending on their design, firmness, and materials, pillows can hurt you or help you. The good news is there are many different types of pillows available on the market that are specifically designed for each sleeping position. If you wake up with a numb arm, then you must be a side sleeper.

The best pillows for side sleepers are this memory foam orthopedic pillow and this hypoallergenic bamboo cover pillow. To make your sleep even more comfortable, you can also try this awesome pancake pillow and this memory foam knee pillow.

You May Have a More Serious Underlying Problem

If your arm continues to fall asleep when you sleep on your side or the numbness does not dissipate after a few minutes, it could be a sign of a more serious issue. If this is the case, you should seek help from a professional.

There are several potential causes of this. You may have ulnar nerve entrapment. The ulnar nerve runs from the arm up to the neck, and when it gets compressed, it can cause numbness in the arm or hand. This may be caused by fractures, arthritis, bone spurs, or cysts.

A stroke is another possible cause of the numbness. According to a study in the journal Neurology, about one out of every seven strokes occurs at night when the patient is asleep. One of the symptoms of a stroke is tingling and numbness in the limbs on one side of the body.

In addition, other causes of numbness could potentially be carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, cervical spondylosis, Type 2 diabetes, transient ischemic attack, and much more.

In summary, the tips I have provided should show you how to sleep on your side without arm falling asleep. If these hints do not work, you may want to talk to a doctor or other healthcare professional. Good luck!


Rob J. Our Expert

When sleeping on your side, set a pillow between your legs for support, so your spine is balanced. Pull your knees slightly towards your chest. This knee-chest position is also recommended by doctors.