Best Ways to Sleep After a Shoulder Injury

Shoulder InjuryShoulder injuries can make it difficult to get comfortable for a good night’s rest, especially if you usually sleep on the affected side. Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep can make it harder for your body to heal properly. Taking steps to ensure better comfort at night while you’re dealing with a shoulder injury can help your body get the rest it needs in order to recover.

Manage Pain

Managing pain and soreness before going to bed can make it easier for you to fall asleep and enjoy good quality rest. Applying an ice pack to the affected area about 30 minutes before going to bed and taking an over-the-counter pain medication can provide temporary relief.

Wear a Sling

Keeping your arm in a sling for the night can help your shoulder remain stable while you sleep. With a sling holding your shoulder in place, you won’t have to worry about moving around and putting too much pressure on the injured area.

Find a Comfortable Sleeping Position

Finding a good position to sleep in when you’ve injured your shoulder can be challenging. Avoid lying down on the affected side. Instead, try sleeping on the other side or on your back. If that does not work you might have an easier time sleeping while sitting up in a recliner or in bed with pillows behind you.

Use Props

If you’re still having trouble sleeping while sitting up or lying down, try using props. Place blankets, cushions, towels or pillows under your arm to keep your injured shoulder in a comfortable position while you sleep.

Depending on the severity of your shoulder injury, it might take awhile to get a good night’s sleep. If your shoulder continues to bother you, your doctor might recommend other forms of treatment, such as orthopedic surgery. If you have a shoulder injury that’s causing severe pain, you might benefit from orthopedic care. Consult an orthopedist to learn more about potential treatment options, such as shoulder surgery.


  1. My friend just had surgery on his shoulder and sleeping has been something difficult for him. He has had to sleep sitting up and make sure to ice often. I will have to tell him about using props like pillows and blankets. Thanks for the advice!!

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