How to Sleep on Your Side Without Your Arm Falling Asleep

How to Sleep on Your Side Without Your Arm Falling Asleep

A problem I have is sleeping on my side and waking up to find I can’t feel my arm. If you too have this problem then you know all too well how frustrating, and sometimes painful it can be.

I’ve been testing different ways to avoid having a dead arm and found some pretty good success that I’m going to share with you.

So, read on to find out ways how to sleep on your side without your arm falling asleep and hopefully you’ll discover some ways that work just as good for you.

Why Does My Arm Fall Asleep When I Sleep on My Side?

What you’re experiencing when your arm has ‘fallen asleep’, is called paraesthesia.

Paraesthesia is explained in the dictionary as:

an abnormal sensation, typically tingling or pricking (‘pins and needles’), caused chiefly by pressure on or damage to peripheral nerves.

Sounds familiar, right?

When pressure is put on a limb it stops or reduces the flow of blood to the rest of your limb.

So when you’re sleeping on your side for example, you are stopping the blood from flowing freely up and down your arm.

This affects the nerve fibers, which in turn means your brain notices something is wrong and the ‘pins and needles’ sensation is nerve messages going back and forth.

You might also experience a numb feeling, a warm sensation, a feeling that your arm is swollen, and all kinds of pains.

The simple solution is to start moving your arm around to allow the blood to start flowing freely. After a few seconds, or minutes, your arm should be back to normal.

Reasons for Paresthesia, Numbness, and Dead Arms While Sleeping

Sleeping position is the most common reason for paresthesia as already discussed. There are however some other potential issues that may be the cause.

Firstly, you should always consult a medical professional if the problem persists and is happening for reasons other than you’re sleeping on your arm.

However, here are some common medical issues that can cause paresthesia while you’re sleeping:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

This is a condition that I have lived with for many years and know very well. It’s caused by inflammation of median nerve found in the wrist, often inflamed through repetitive work or heavy lifting.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

This condition is due to the ulnar nerve being inflamed. The ulnar nerve passes through the elbow and causes numbness and tingling when the elbow has been in a bent position for a long period.


Various injuries around your body can cause numbness and tingling, mostly nerve, bone, and joint injuries.


A stroke is very serious and you should contact the emergency services if you suspect this may be the cause. Stokes happen as a result of the blood flow to your brain being disrupted. One of the first signs is often numbness and tingling down one side of your body.

Ways to Prevent Your Arms Falling Asleep at Night

There are a few things you can do to try and prevent paresthesia and reduce how often you have dead arms while sleeping.

Try some of the following and see what works best for you:

Change Your Sleeping Position

It’s hard to break a habit like sleeping position, but you can do it. Sleep so that your arms are not trapped under your body, don’t hang your arms over the side of the bed.

See if you can use another pillow to add some comfort between your body and arm are relieve some of the pressure too. Try and find out what works best for you, everyone is different when it comes to being comfortable as they sleep.

Exercise More

If you exercise and are in better physical shape you’ll have better circulation around your body. This can help prevent paresthesia, as well as reducing how asleep your arm is and how long it takes to get back to normal.

Practice Meditation and Breathing Exercises

There is a lot of positive wellness implications from taking out a few minutes a day to breathe and practice some meditation. Improved circulation, as well as improving your mental and physical condition are just a few.

Manage Your Repetitive Tasks

If you do a lot of repetitive tasks that may be causing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Cubital Tunnel Syndrome as discussed above, take plenty of breaks, make sure your arms have support, and stop if they are starting to hurt.

Consult a Medical Professional

Of course, the advice and tips here are things that I know have helped me and others, but everyone is different. You should always consult a medical professional and act as per their instructions if you’re suffering from sleeping arms, numbness, and tingling often.