Where to Put Your Arms When Sleeping on Your Side

Discover the comfort of side sleeping with our guide on where to place your arms. Defeat numbness and pain with optimal arm positions for better health.

Dr. Ifran Saddique

Sleeping on the side is quite difficult for many people. Although health experts highly recommend this position, many wonder what to do with their arms when sleeping on the side. Laying your arms in awkward positions often results in problems such as arm numbness, swelling, and shoulder pain. Mattress Verdict offers expert tips if you experience such discomfort and are looking for where to put your arms when sleeping on your side. This guide will show you how to position your arms when sleeping on your side. 

Key Takeaways

  • Sleeping on your side is the best position for coping with health conditions like acid reflux and sleep apnea. 
  • Laying your arms in awkward positions will cause numbness and severe pain. 
  • There are optimal positions for laying your arms to prevent discomfort.
  • You should consult an expert if your condition does not improve.

The Different Side Sleeping Arms Position

According to this report by the National Library of Medicine, your sleeping position impacts the quality of your sleep. If sleeping on your side causes undue pain and discomfort in your arms, you are not doing it right. Looking for where to put your arms when sleeping on your side? It would help if you used a side sleeping arm position in this guide to learn how to properly sleep on your side. 

The Fetal Position

This position mimics the posture of a developing fetus. Many experts consider it the best sleeping position for comfort. In the fetal position, you lay on your side with your knees and arms drawn in towards your chest. The fetal position places your arms in your front with your arms bent at the elbows and your arms close to your face. This way, you avoid laying on your arms or twisting them awkwardly. The fetal position is also great for keeping your limbs warm while you sleep. These factors make the fetal position the best arm position for side sleeping. 

The Yearner Position

This side sleeping position is not very common. It involves laying on your side with both arms spread straight ahead. This position looks like a full stretch and requires large mattresses. Although uncommon, the yearner position can relax your arms during a few hours of sleep. 

The Log Position 

This sleeping position involves laying on your side with one arm stretched out in your front and the other arm placed on top of your body. This arm position for side sleeping appears stiff and is only common in about 15% of people. 

The Benefits of Side Sleeping 

Medical professionals highly recommend the side sleeping posture for many reasons. Besides offering maximum comfort, side sleeping is also excellent for coping with certain health conditions. Here's why you should use a side sleeping posture. 

Increased Neck Comfort

According to the World Health Organization, neck pain is a widespread disabling muscle or bone injury that could result in chronic pain. Sleeping on your back or stomach puts considerable pressure on your spine and increases the risk of neck pain. But laying on your side is among the best sleep positions for neck pain. Side sleeping places your head in a neutral position, reducing pressure and increasing your neck comfort.

Relief from Back Pain

Laying on your side is an effective way to cope with chronic back pain. The fetal position is one of the best sleep positions for sciatica. This position reduces the pressure on your spine and makes your sleep more comfortable.

Relief from Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea and other breathing issues, such as snoring, are caused by the obstruction of the respiratory system during sleep. Side sleeping positions are the best sleeping positions for sleep apnea. Laying on your back makes your tongue obstruct your breathing and worsens sleep apnea. But laying on your side opens up your nasal pathways and improves your breathing. 

Relief from Acid Reflux

Laying on your belly causes the acids from your stomach to flow back to your throat. This occurrence causes heartburn and other gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Laying your left side reduces the occurrence of acid reflux and helps patients with such conditions get better sleep.

The Drawbacks of Side Sleeping

Although side sleeping is highly recommended, it poses some challenges. However, you can overcome these problems by sleeping in the correct position.

Shoulder Pain

Laying on your side puts a lot of pressure on your shoulders. While you could place your arms out of the way, it is impossible to avoid your shoulders altogether. This problem is common when using standard mattresses. However, a specially crafted mattress could accommodate your arms and shoulders and relieve pressure.

Facial Wrinkles

Sleeping on your side for lengthy periods puts considerable stress on your facial muscles. This stress will weaken such muscles and make it easier for you to develop facial wrinkles.

Arm Numbness

Sleeping on your side could make your arms go numb when sleeping. However, this occurrence is due to resting on arms for long periods. You can prevent arm numbness by laying your arms at your side when you sleep. 

Skin Disease 

Laying on your side puts your face in your pillowcase for long periods. Hence, you frequently come into contact with dead skin cells and residual oils. Blemishes such as acne could begin to appear on your skin. However, you can avoid this challenge by frequently changing your bedsheets and pillowcases. Washing your face before bedtime will also help. 

Spine Misalignment

Due to gravity, laying on your side will put your spine in an unnatural position. This occurrence could lead to back pain and lasting posture damage. But you could avoid spine misalignment when side sleeping by supporting your neck with pillows and using memory foam. You could also try sleeping with your legs elevated to reduce the pressure on your spine and lower back. 

Tips on How to Sleep on Your Side Without Your Arms Falling Asleep

The major challenge many face is where to put arms when sleeping on their side. Laying on your arms will make your arms fall asleep, leading to further health complications. Here are helpful tips for how to sleep on your side without your arm falling asleep. 

Find the Correct Mattress

Sleeping on the right mattress is key to how to stop sleeping on your arm. Standard mattresses will not give your arms the required comfort. The right mattress for side sleeping is a memory foam that will support your entire body while cushioning your hips, arms, and shoulders. You can take the Mattress Verdict quiz to find the correct mattress.

Use the Right Pillow

A poor neck posture will hinder the transfer of impulses to your arms while you sleep. This hindrance could be why a side sleeper's arm falls asleep. Sleeping with the right pillow will solve this problem. It would help to use a pillow that fills the space between your neck and shoulder. Also, sleeping with your arm under your head will lead to arm numbness and other discomfort. However, you can avoid such problems by side sleeping with an arm under your pillow. 

Adopt the Correct Posture

Arm numbness while sleeping is mainly due to poor sleeping positions. Use the correct sleeping posture to avoid sleeping on your arm. The fetal position gives you the most comfortable arm resting position. 

See a Health Expert

If side sleeping makes your arm fall asleep, you should consider visiting a specialist for professional help. Arm numbness may be a symptom of an underlying health challenge. With the right help and medication, you could overcome such challenges.

Practice Side Sleeping

If you are wondering how to sleep on your side without arm pain, then you should practice side sleeping regularly. Add more pillows to your bed to cushion your hands and arms while lying in the fetal position. You could also add items like beads and tennis balls to discourage you from lying on your back and stomach. While these measures could cause discomfort as you begin, you will enjoy the benefits soon enough.

Frequently Asked Questions  

How do I stop putting my arms above my head when I sleep?

If you wonder, "How do I stop putting my arms above my head when I sleep?" You can practice sleeping with the right mattress and pillow to stop putting your arms above your head when sleeping. Adequate practice will also help if you are wondering how to keep your arms straight while sleeping on your side. 

How do I relax my shoulders when I sleep on my side?

Like many, you might ask, "How do I relax my shoulders when I sleep on my side?". You can ease the pressure on your shoulders using a memory foam that comfortably accommodates your shoulder. 

What type of pillow is best for side sleepers?

In case you are asking, "What type of pillow is best for side sleepers?" your best option is a side sleeper pillow that prevents arm numbness. You can place a pillow between your arms and your chest when curled in a fetal position to control your arms from falling asleep. Side sleepers could also put a pillow between their knees to increase comfort.

Why shouldn't you sleep on your right side?

Like many, you might ask, "Why shouldn't you sleep on your right side?". Sleeping on your right side increases the chances of acid reflux. When you lie on your right side, gravity causes the digestive juices in your stomach to flow back to your esophagus. This acid reflux could lead to heartburn and other health complications.

Do side sleepers have bad posture?

You might wonder, "Do side sleepers have bad posture?" or "Is it bad to sleep on your arm?". Side sleepers could develop bad posture if they do not sleep in the correct position. You can avoid this problem by placing suitable pillows under your neck.

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