What Causes Pain When Sleeping?

Patti Kate
Patti Kate
A mattress that does not provide sufficient support can cause pain when sleeping.
A mattress that does not provide sufficient support can cause pain when sleeping.

A person may experience pain when sleeping for a variety of reasons, including sleeping on a mattress that does not provide proper support or using a pillow that doesn't support the head and neck properly. Side sleepers may also experience shoulder or arm pain without proper support and spine alignment. In some cases, medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and shoulder tendinitis also may cause pain when sleeping.

Tension headaches may cause pain while sleeping.
Tension headaches may cause pain while sleeping.

When an individual feels stiffness or joint pain while sleeping or upon awakening in the morning, he might not associate this with his mattress or pillow. In many cases, however, a mattress that sags or a pillow that doesn't provide proper support can cause aches and pains. While there are other causes of pain when sleeping, replacing a worn or defective mattress or pillow could help.

Some women may experience back pain at night during their pregnancy.
Some women may experience back pain at night during their pregnancy.

Another common cause of pain while sleeping is fibromyalgia. This condition may cause widespread muscoloskeletal pain, especially when sleeping in a position that forces pressure on a particularly sensitive area of the body. Arthritis may also cause pain when sleeping, due to the joints becoming stiff during extended periods of inactivity.

A sinus headache may cause pain when sleeping. For many individuals, sinus pressure increases while lying down. Some physicians recommend sleeping with the head slightly elevated to alleviate the pressure. For many individuals, tension headaches may also cause pain while sleeping.

Many people suffer from leg cramps while sleeping.
Many people suffer from leg cramps while sleeping.

Some children suffer from occasional ear infections, which can cause pain during sleep. An earache may become worse when lying down, as fluid and pressure increases. Again, a way to avoid this is by raising the head slightly with an additional pillow.

For many individuals, a toothache can cause intense pain when sleeping. While lying down, blood flows more freely to the head, resulting in throbbing pain in the tooth or gum area. In most cases, seeing a dentist is not possible during the late night hours, and some people find relief by propping pillows up.

Pregnancy can cause some pain while sleeping.
Pregnancy can cause some pain while sleeping.

Many people suffer from leg cramps while sleeping. The nocturnal pain is often felt in the calf area or lower part of the leg. The muscle spasms and pain may cause some individuals to awaken from a deep sleep. In some cases, dehydration or potassium deficiency may cause leg cramps or nighttime pain. In some cases, heat or massage may relieve the painful symptoms.

During pregnancy, some women may experience hip or back pain when sleeping. This is due to uneven weight distribution, primarily on the hips, or lower back. Many women find comfort and relief by using a body pillow during their pregnancy.

Discussion Comments

Pippinwhite

If I'm sleeping deeply and not moving much for a while, sometimes, my knee joints will stiffen because they've been in the same position for too long. Also, I'll sleep too long on one side and when I turn over, my ear is asleep from the pillow pressure. The "waking up" process where the blood flow returns is sometimes extremely painful and will wake me out of a sound sleep.

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    • A mattress that does not provide sufficient support can cause pain when sleeping.
      By: karam miri
      A mattress that does not provide sufficient support can cause pain when sleeping.
    • Tension headaches may cause pain while sleeping.
      By: vgstudio
      Tension headaches may cause pain while sleeping.
    • Some women may experience back pain at night during their pregnancy.
      By: Martinan
      Some women may experience back pain at night during their pregnancy.
    • Many people suffer from leg cramps while sleeping.
      By: Monkey Business
      Many people suffer from leg cramps while sleeping.
    • Pregnancy can cause some pain while sleeping.
      By: Milissenta
      Pregnancy can cause some pain while sleeping.
    • Sinus pressure and pain can make it difficult to sleep.
      By: Innovated Captures
      Sinus pressure and pain can make it difficult to sleep.
    • Sleeping with the neck in an abnormal position may cause tension headaches.
      By: vladimirfloyd
      Sleeping with the neck in an abnormal position may cause tension headaches.
    • Pillows that don't provide enough support can lead to pain when sleeping.
      By: Savvapanf Studio ©
      Pillows that don't provide enough support can lead to pain when sleeping.
    • Some people experience toothaches because blood circulates more freely to the head while lying down.
      By: Eléonore H
      Some people experience toothaches because blood circulates more freely to the head while lying down.