Sometimes we can do a great job taking care of ourselves during the day, but our sleep positions can undo all our hard work. Many of the problems that hand therapists treat, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome, arthritis, or even tendonitis can be exacerbated by pressure while we are sleeping. This pressure can worsen symptoms like swelling, numbness, tingling, and pain.
How does this happen?
Sometimes the positions in which we sleep place our spine, joints, and soft tissues under compression, tension, or both. Our nerves are especially sensitive to this. For example, when we sleep in a “fetal position,” the nerves in our wrists and elbows can be compressed at the point where our arms and wrists bend. They can also be put under tension which can cause irritation and aggravate symptoms like numbness, tingling, and/or pain. Another example is when a pillow causes the neck to be bent in a position that can compress the nerves that travel from the spine into the arms and hands.