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Can Awkward Sleep Positioning Cause Carpal Tunnel?

Sleep is an integral part of our daily function, helping us recover from the wear and tear our bodies endure after each day, as well as repairing and growing tissue, like bone, muscle, and nerves. Additionally, sleep positioning is just as important in order for your body to heal properly. So if you sleep the wrong way, it can be detrimental to your health.

If you are experiencing any pain, numbness, or tingling in the fingertips, it may be early signs of a nerve compression issue known as Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). In fact, how you position yourself when you sleep can potentially lead to CTS.

If you have CTS already, the symptoms are often worst in the evenings since the tissue fluid located in the arms is being redistributed when there is no active muscle pump. In other words, when we are not moving when we attempt to sleep, increased fluids results in increased carpal tunnel pressure. So how patients position their wrists during sleep is one factor which affects carpal tunnel pressure.

The following are two sleep positions you should avoid:

  • The Fetal Position – One study discovered a strong association between people sleeping on their side and CTS. However, people who sleep on their side are more inclined to sleep in a fetal position, which includes a forward head and rounded shoulders posture, bent at the elbow, and the wrist bent in a flexed position. Not only does this position increases the risk of CTS, but also increases the risk of other nerve compression injuries.
  • On Your Stomach – This position increases the risk of CTS by placing increased pressure on the wrists. Furthermore, it also increases the risk of other nerve compression injuries at the elbow and shoulder, as well as irritating the neck, back, and spine.

The preferred sleeping positions include:

  • On Your Back – Less stress is placed on the cervical spine in this position. Also, there is less risk of nerve compression at the elbow, shoulder, and wrist. If your legs are propped up, it places less pressure on the lumbar spine.
  • On Your Side – If you prefer to sleep on your side, you should gently hug a pillow or a body pillow to prevent going to the fetal position. If you have CTS, wear a wrist brace to keep the wrist in a neutral position. Lastly, put a pillow in between your legs for proper hip support and spine alignment.

If you are suffering from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in New York, schedule an appointment with our experienced doctor at Manhattan Sports Therapy today.