Does Your Memory Foam Mattress Cause Shoulder Pain? Here’s Why (And How to Deal with It)

Updated on April 22, 2024

Shoulder pain is hard to ignore, especially when trying to get a good night’s sleep.

But what if your bed is the reason why you can’t sleep because of the pain?

Well, don’t despair: there are ways to deal with it. You can schedule a telemedicine consult with an online doctor specializing in sleep issues.

But first, let’s take a closer look at the problem and figure out how to enjoy pain-free slumber!

So, How Does Your Mattress Cause Shoulder Pain?

Here’s the deal:

Sleeping on one’s side is the most common position. Countless sleepers find it to be the most comfortable (and I understand why).

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However, this sleeping position is often associated with shoulder pain. And it’s important to remember that side sleepers have specific needs when it comes to restful slumber. For instance, if you have sore or tender shoulders, you need to pay attention to your mattress.

There are many models suitable for people with shoulder issues, and each of them can help you wake more rested in the morning. You can check out the list of the best mattresses for shoulder pain sufferers at Sleepingocean (click this link) and pick something that would work for you.

So now, the question remains: 

Why does your shoulder keep aching?

The truth is, not all side sleepers suffer from such an issue. There are a few reasons why you might wake up with sore (or stiff) shoulders. The most common are:

  • Your memory foam mattress is too stiff. This one is simple: an overly firm mattress puts too much pressure on your shoulders. You see, when lying on one side, your shoulder is pressed against the mattress surface. If that surface is too stiff, it will cause tension build-up in the shoulder. Additionally, when the shoulder does not sink in, it can cause a complete misalignment of the spine, neck, and hips. This, consequently, can lead to pressure points, stiffness, and pain.
  • Your king size foam mattress is too soft.. Sleeping on an overly soft mattress (regardless of the sleeping position, actually) can allow the heavier parts of the body to sink in too deep. This, again, leads to misalignment and can cause strain or pressure on your shoulders.
  • Your mattress is old, saggy, and doesn’t offer uniform support. If your bed is old, saggy, or lumpy, it isn’t likely to support your body properly. This may lead to unwanted curves in your spine, too much sinkage, and improper sleeping posture. The weight cannot be distributed evenly in this case either. As a result, you can wake up with back pain, sore neck, and stiff or aching shoulders. 

How to Sleep Better with Shoulder Pain

You don’t have to suffer from sleepless nights if your shoulder is bothering you. There are different tricks you can try that have the potential to improve your sleep quality. So, let’s take a look at some of them and see which one would work for you the best:

Get a new mattress

I understand it’s a serious investment, but this step can help you save your sleep (and health). A good mattress for shoulder pain would support you properly, aid healthy spinal alignment, and gently cradle your shoulders, offering tension release. Many great mattresses for shoulder pain belong to different price categories and can satisfy various types of sleepers. 

Check whether your pillow works for you

Here’s the deal: shoulder pain can often derive from neck problems. And the health of your neck depends a lot on your pillow. When sleeping on something too thin for your sleeping position, the neck and the head aren’t supported properly. The head tilts, and a curve appears in your neck, putting a strain on it. At the same time, if your pillow is too thick and tall, it will kind of push your head forward, creating the neck curve (again). That’s why it’s important to consider your pillow’s thickness. Side sleepers are recommended taller, loftier pillows. Back sleepers require thinner models, preferably with extra padding in the neck region to fill in its natural curve. And stomach sleepers would benefit from using thin pillows (or even sleeping without one).

Try to switch positions

Shoulder stiffness and pain can be caused by staying in the same position for prolonged periods. Try to move once in a while to avoid that. If only one of your shoulders is painful, try to sleep on your healthy side instead. Some people also feel more comfortable in a reclined position, so you might try that as well.

Use pillows to your advantage

To aid proper spinal alignment and feel more comfortable during sleep, you can add some extra pillows for support. For instance, if you are a side sleeper with shoulder pain, lie on your healthy shoulder and hug a large pillow. It will help reduce stress from your affected shoulder. Back sleepers can put a small pillow under their knees to maintain a neutral spine. You can also get a nice body pillow if you have some money to spare. A good body pillow will offer more support when you’re lying on your side, plus it can prevent you from rolling over onto your affected shoulder.

Relax before bed

This can help you deal with shoulder pain (and relax your mind, which is also important). For instance, taking a warm shower can aid muscle relaxation and might even reduce pain levels. You can also try reading, meditating, or following a skincare routine before bed. Anything that seems relaxing and can help you wind down in the evening should work.

Exercise during the day

Regular exercise is often associated with improved sleep quality. However, you should be careful with your shoulder. Sticking to simpler, lighter routines protects your tender shoulder from the strain. Even walking during the day could help you sleep better, so you don’t have to kill it at the gym.

Do light stretching before and after sleep

This can help you avoid tension build-up in your shoulders and, consequently, might help reduce pain levels. Yoga could also work great in this case, especially given the fact that there are many poses (or asanas) suitable to be done right in bed.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.