Get Better Sleep with Carpal Tunnel: Tips & Reasons Behind Night-Time Pain

how to sleep with carpal tunnel

Getting good sleep is crucial for everyone because it helps our bodies and minds recover from the day’s activities. Sleep helps us stay healthy, think clearly, and feel good. However, sometimes it’s hard to enjoy uninterrupted sleep due to various reasons. One common issue that can make sleeping difficult is carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition causes pain, a numb feeling, and tingling in your hands and arms, and these symptoms often get worse at night. This not only makes it hard to fall asleep but also affects how well you rest and how you feel during the day. 

As mentioned by the National Institutes of Health, getting enough quality sleep is vital for our health, showing how important it is to find ways to sleep better, especially if you’re dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome.

What You Need to Know About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Lots of people have carpal tunnel syndrome—studies show that about 3 to 6% of adults might be dealing with it right now. That’s a lot of us trying to figure out how to manage the discomfort it causes, especially when we’re trying to get some sleep.

For those with carpal tunnel syndrome, the pain, numbness, and that annoying tingling in the hands and arms often get worse at night. Why does this happen? Well, it could be because of the way we hold our wrists while sleeping or maybe because our bodies tend to swell a bit when we’re lying down.

What exactly is carpal tunnel syndrome? It happens when there’s too much pressure on the median nerve. This is the nerve that runs from your forearm, through your wrist, and into your hand. It’s important because it controls feelings in your thumb and most fingers and helps move your hand muscles.

Causes of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Doing the same hand movements over and over, especially with bent wrists
  • Certain health issues, like thyroid problems, arthritis, or diabetes
  • Being pregnant, which can cause swelling
  • Sometimes, it runs in families

Symptoms to watch out for:

  • Pain, numbness, and tingling in your hand and arm
  • Hand weakness or dropping things
  • Discomfort that makes daily tasks hard

This condition is pretty common and can really affect your day-to-day life, including making it hard to get a good night’s sleep.

Why Carpal Tunnel Feels Worse at Night

If you’ve got carpal tunnel syndrome, you might have noticed that the pain and tingling in your hand and arm seem to get worse when you’re trying to sleep. Here’s why this happens:

  • Your Wrist Position: When you’re sleeping, you might curl your wrists without realizing it. This can put extra pressure on the nerve in your wrist, making the symptoms stronger.
  • Blood Flow Changes: Lying down to sleep changes how blood flows in your body. For some, this means less blood flow to the hands, which can make carpal tunnel symptoms more noticeable.
  • Fluids Build Up: Because you’re not moving much while you sleep, fluids can gather in your body parts, including your wrists. This can squeeze the nerve even more, especially if you’re pregnant or prone to swelling.
  • Less Movement: During the day, you’re moving your hands a lot, which can actually help keep symptoms in check. At night, your hands are still for hours, which can lead to stiffness and more discomfort.

Tips for Sleeping Better with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Having carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t mean you have to put up with poor sleep every night. There are several simple changes and steps you can take to ease the discomfort and enjoy a better night’s rest. Here are some practical tips to try:

  1. Use a Wrist Splint at Night: A wrist splint helps keep your wrist straight while you sleep. This can lessen the pressure on the nerve in your wrist and help reduce the tingling and numbness.
  2. Be Mindful of Your Sleep Position: Your sleeping position can make a big difference. Try not to sleep on your hands or bend your wrists. Lying on your back is often the best way to keep your wrists straight and relaxed.
  3. Pillow Support: Arrange your pillows in a way that supports your arm or keeps your wrist in a neutral position. This might involve using an extra pillow or adjusting the ones you already use.
  4. Gentle Stretching Before Bed: Doing some light stretching exercises for your wrists and hands before going to bed can help relieve tension and discomfort.
  5. Keep Your Hands Warm: Cold can make carpal tunnel symptoms worse, so try keeping your hands warm with gloves or by using a heated blanket.
  6. Take Regular Breaks During the Day: If you do a lot of repetitive hand movements during the day, it’s important to take breaks. Stretch your hands and give them a little rest.
  7. Address Swelling: Especially for pregnant women, swelling can aggravate carpal tunnel syndrome. You can help manage this by doing gentle exercises, elevating your hands, and watching your salt intake to reduce swelling.
  8. Seek Advice from a Professional: If your symptoms are severe or don’t improve, it might be time to talk to a doctor or a physical therapist. They can offer more specific treatments, like physical therapy, which can provide further relief.

Taking Care of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome can be tough, especially when it gets in the way of a good night’s sleep and your daily routines. But there are straightforward steps to help manage it. Beginning with special exercises and wearing a wrist splint during the night are good first actions. These methods aim to reduce the pressure on the nerve in your wrist and decrease discomfort.

However, if these initial steps don’t relieve the pain, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional. Carpal tunnel syndrome varies from person to person, and sometimes, more personalized treatment might be necessary, such as physical therapy, medications, or potentially surgery.

It’s crucial to take care of your health and tackle carpal tunnel syndrome early. By trying self-care measures and seeking professional advice when needed, you can better control the condition and its impact on your life.


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