Mattress Causing Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain can be a debilitating condition to live with. And your mattress can make it worse if you have the wrong bed. No one likes waking up every day with shoulder pain. But, if you do, you’re not alone — 36 million American adults suffer from this condition! We hope this guide can help you find the right bed so you can sleep well again.



After a busy day, you’re tired and want nothing more than to climb into your cozy bed and fall into a deep sleep. If you’re suffering from shoulder pain, a good night’s sleep seems like a faraway dream. But good news, it is possible to relieve the pain and find comfort.

Shoulder pain from sleeping can be caused by many things, but here are the most common reasons:

  • Osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis)
  • Rotator cuff strain (tendon injury)
  • Bursitis (Bursae inflammation)
  • Sleeping on the injury that puts additional strain on the muscles. Inflammation tends to be the root cause of shoulder pain at night.

Changing your sleep position, putting a pillow between your knees in bed, and gentle exercise (including stretching) can greatly improve your quality of sleep health. If you’re like me, I sit all day at a desk and my shoulders can get pretty tight during the day. Then at night, sleeping on my side, it can be worse. So this is something I’m far too familiar with but after taking conscious steps, is much better. I hope this information will help you get relief too!

What causes shoulder pain and how can to lessen your symptoms so you can sleep well at night?


  • Muscle tears: the tendons, muscles, or labrum can tear hindering stability and motion in the joints
  • Poor sleeping posture: sleeping with your spine misaligned or head not supported on an adequate pillow
  • Overexertion: shoulder muscles have been overstretched or worked too hard
  • Repetitive injuries: continuous tendon strain on a mild injury that becomes worse over time due to lack of rest or treatment
  • Age: Those over 40 are most at risk of suffering shoulder pain at night
  • Sleeping on the wrong kind of mattress: sleeping on an unsupportive mattress that does not provide adequate pressure relief

Why do my shoulders hurt when I sleep?

A common cause of shoulder pain at night is the result of rotator cuff inflammation. This can be brought on by sudden injury or repetitive strain injury to the shoulder tendons. Try sleeping on your opposite side and limiting the use of the injured arm for as long as possible to allow healing.

How to prevent shoulder pain from sleeping 

If you’re dealing with night time shoulder pain you could find relief in these tips and sleep better tonight. Note that we may earn a commission when you shop through our links.

  1. Put a pillow between your knees if you’re a side sleeper or under your knees, if you’re a back sleeper
  2. Find a better sleep position if you’re unable to get comfortable at night or wake with aches and pains in the morning, don’t sleep on the affected shoulder
  3. Consider upgrading your mattress to one that provides more pressure relief
  4. Limit the use of your affected arm, the less pressure on it during the day could bring some nighttime relief, use an arm sling for a few days if needed and don’t sleep on your arm if you’re a stomach sleeper

Shoulder pain from sleeping on side

Do you sleep on your side? Side sleeper shoulder pain is most common in those who are sleeping on an inadequate mattress that does not offer any pressure relief. Memory foam mattresses are especially known to cause hip and shoulder pain for those sleeping on their side. A softer mattress can help.


If your mattress is too hard, consider a softer mattress that will allow your shoulders and hips to pleasantly sink. A firm mattress can put pressure on your shoulders and hips, aggravating any injury further. If you’re a side sleeper, try these tips to sleep more comfortably.

How to stop my shoulders from hurting at night

  1. Sleep on your opposite side.
  2. Put a pillow between your knees to align your hips.
  3. Ensure your head is on a supportive pillow and the spine is aligned.
  4. Sleep on a soft and supportive mattress that provides pressure relief.

What Qualities Should I Look for to Help my Shoulder Pain

The best mattress for shoulder pain is softer and made of a modern material that is proven to offer superior pressure relief. The sensitive hip and shoulder areas need more of a plush mattress to sink into but also require adequate support so as not to put undue pressure on these areas. However, are there alternatives?

  • Memory foam vs spring mattresses for shoulder pain: a memory foam mattress is typically viewed as a softer alternative to a spring mattress. Although the memory foam firmness will depend on the density of the foam and can range from super soft to very firm. Spring mattress firmness depends on the gauge of the coils, lower gauge coils will result in a firmer spring mattress
  • Firm vs soft mattresses for shoulder pain: a firm mattress is ill-advised when managing shoulder pain. Opt for a more responsive and supportive material that feels soft but brings pressure relief to your sensitive hip and shoulder areas. A firm mattress could worsen shoulder injury and prolong recovery. So medium or soft are your best options.
  • AirFoam vs memory foam mattresses for shoulder pain: Most memory foam mattresses will not be ideal for someone who is suffering from shoulder pain. Memory foam contains viscoelastic chemicals that cause the memory foam to sleep hot. As your body heat warms the mattress you get ‘sinkage’ where the body sinks into a crater-like hole in the mattress. Heat collects in this space and you wake up or shift positions. But that crater is tough to get out of – making it hard to move around.AirFoam™ mattresses are made of innovative and modern material that offers superior pressure relief that memory can’t live up to. The best mattress for shoulder pain is softer yet supportive, especially in the hip and shoulder areas

You can Alleviate your Shoulder Pain and Get Better Sleep

Waking up with severe shoulder pain after sleeping can really affect your life. If you’re wondering, how can I stop my shoulders from hurting at night, we have highlighted a couple of quick tips below.

  1. Shoulder pain from sleeping wrong can be corrected by switching sleep positions and upgrading your mattress to a more pressure relieving alternative.
  2. Sleep on your opposite side with a pillow between your knees and a quality pillow under your head.
  3. Ensure your spine is aligned and don’t sleep on the injured shoulder.
  4. If your shoulder pain is unbearable, see your doctor, some pain won’t be helped (but could be hurt) by your mattress choice.
  5. Dealing with any kind of pain reduces your mobility, concentration, and can zap the joy out of life.

Besides the tips above, there is help available to alleviate your symptoms and bring restful sleep back to your nights. One of the most successful solutions to relieving shoulder pain while sleeping is upgrading to a modern pressure relief mattress that has been specifically designed to help relieve the symptoms of shoulder pain.

Best Bed for Shoulder Pain

Nolah specializes in these types of pressure relief mattresses. They offer two award-winning mattresses to choose from.