Ask SleepBetter: Nighttime Pain Prompting a Sleep Switch

Have you wondered about something related to sleep, but just can’t find the answer? Lots of people do, and that’s why we created Ask SleepBetter. You can ask your own question on the SleepBetter Facebook Page, or by using our Ask SleepBetter contact form. We will try to answer as many questions as possible, but we are not able to answer queries about physical issues or medicinal issues. Those should be addressed face-to-face with a physician.

Today’s question is from a site visitor for whom sleeping can be a real pain:

I wake up 4-5 times a night with one arm asleep and in pain, which I can only assume is because I’ve rolled onto that side. Can you recommend a failsafe way to sleep on my back?  I have tried many techniques but to no avail.  Currently I am using a neck roll, a pillow under my legs, and under each arm when I fall asleep. It stil does not prevent me from rolling onto one side.
-Eitan (via Email)

First and foremost, make sure you discuss your sleep problems with your doctor. Nothing can be a substitute for a face-to-face visit.

Once you’ve had the talk with your doctor, check out your bedding. It sounds like you’re sleeping on a bed that isn’t compatible with the way you sleep. If your bed is too soft, lumpy or even too hard, a quality mattress pad or topper could help. The pad on top of your existing mattress can help “smooth” out a lot of problems caused by older bedding.

If you still feel you need to switch your sleeping position, know that it is difficult but definitely doable. Part of changing your sleep position is about maximizing your sleep environment. If you want to become a side sleeper, purchase a side-sleeping pillow or a contour pillow. These varieties of pillows cushion your head and neck even though they’re a little higher due to your shoulder. If you want to become a stomach sleeper or a back sleeper, however, a lower loft pillow would be a good idea because it reduces neck strain.

Your solution of using pillows on your sides and under your legs is a good one and exactly what we’d recommend. It may be that you just need to keep working at it. It may seem weird and uncomfortable at first, and you may move to your old favorite once you fall asleep. But, with persistence, it’s something you’ll adjust to.

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