How to Sleep with a Broken Shoulder

by Sehrish Vulvox ABC

When you have a broken shoulder, sleeping can be a challenge. The pain, discomfort, and limited range of motion can make it difficult to get comfortable and fall asleep. However, getting enough rest is essential for the healing process. Firstly, it’s essential to understand the type of shoulder injury you have. A broken shoulder, also known as a fractured shoulder, can be a painful and limiting injury. It can occur due to a fall, a direct blow to the shoulder, or a car accident.

Understanding Shoulder Injuries

Before we dive into the tips, let’s first understand shoulder injuries. The shoulder joint is one of the most complex joints in the body, consisting of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Any damage to these structures can result in pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. Common shoulder injuries include dislocated shoulder, rotator cuff tear, and shoulder fractures. A shoulder fracture occurs when one or more of the bones in the shoulder joint break.

Sleeping Positions

When you have a broken shoulder, sleeping on the affected side is out of the question. However, even sleeping on the non-injured side can be uncomfortable due to the pressure on the shoulder. Here are some sleeping positions that may help:

  • Sleeping on Your Back

Sleeping on your back can take the pressure off your shoulder and provide some relief. However, it may not be the most comfortable position, especially if you’re not used to it. To make sleeping on your back more comfortable, use a pillow to support your head and neck and place another pillow under your knees to take the pressure off your lower back.

  • Sleeping on Your Stomach

Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended for people with a broken shoulder. It can put pressure on the injured area and make the pain worse.

  • Sleeping on Your Non-Injured Side

Sleeping on your non-injured side can be a good option, but it can still be uncomfortable due to the pressure on the injured shoulder. To make sleeping on your side more comfortable, place a pillow between your arm and your body to support your shoulder.

Bedding and Pillows

The right bedding and pillows can make a big difference in your comfort level when sleeping with a broken shoulder. Here are some tips:

  • Use a Firm Mattress

A firm mattress can provide better support for your body and help keep your spine aligned.

  • Use a Neck Pillow

A neck pillow can help support your head and neck and prevent neck pain.

  • Use a Body Pillow

A body pillow can be helpful for supporting your arm and shoulder and taking the pressure off the injured area.

  • Use a Wedge Pillow

A wedge pillow can elevate your upper body and take the pressure off your shoulder.

Other Tips

In addition to the sleeping positions and bedding tips, here are some other things you can do to improve your sleep when you have a broken shoulder:

  • Take Pain Medication

Take pain medication before bed to help manage the pain and allow you to sleep more comfortably.

  • Apply Ice or Heat

Applying ice or heat to the injured area before bed can help reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Practice Relaxation Techniques

Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation can help calm your mind and make it easier to fall asleep.

  • Avoid Stimulants

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bed as they can interfere with your sleep.

Another tip to keep in mind is to avoid sudden movements while sleeping. Sudden movements can cause more pain and aggravate the injury. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of your movements and make slow and gentle adjustments while sleeping. If you are having trouble finding a comfortable sleeping position or experiencing severe pain, consider speaking to your doctor or physical therapist.

Additionally, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene habits to ensure you are getting enough restorative sleep. This includes establishing a regular sleep schedule, avoiding electronics before bedtime, keeping your bedroom cool and dark, and getting regular exercise during the day. While it can be challenging to sleep with a broken shoulder, it’s essential to prioritize your rest and recovery. Adequate sleep is critical for healing and can help reduce your pain and discomfort. Therefore, take the time to find a comfortable sleeping position and create a sleep environment that supports your healing.


Sleeping with a broken shoulder can be challenging, but with the right sleeping positions, bedding, and other tips, you can make it more comfortable. Remember to take your pain medication, apply ice or heat, and practice relaxation techniques to help manage your pain.

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