Numb Arms After Sleeping on Your Side? What to Do

Last Updated on July 13, 2024

by Marc Werner, Founder - GhostBed

Woman sleeps on her side on a GhostBed Mattress and pillow.

There’s nothing more irritating than waking up to the feeling of pins and needles in your arm. If you’re a side sleeper, you may be all too familiar with this sensation.

Experiencing numbness in your arms and hands when sleeping? There are solutions! Let’s start by exploring what’s actually happening when your arm falls asleep.

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

If you get a tingling or numb sensation in your arm when you’re lying on it, there’s typically no need to panic. This is especially true if the sensation goes away quickly after you adjust your body.

The technical name for what you’re experiencing is called paresthesia, and in the case of side-sleeping, it’s likely happening because lying on your arm restricts blood flow to your nerves. This leads to a tingling sensation.

If you’re lying on your arm at just the right angle, you may also be pinching a nerve. This can cause similar “asleep” feelings in your limbs.

So how do you get rid of a “dead arm” from sleeping wrong? In most cases, all you need to do is reposition your body so you’re not putting pressure on your nerves. The sensation should go away within a few seconds.

Other Causes of Arm Falling Asleep

If your arm is falling asleep frequently or throughout the day when you’re not lying on it, there may be an underlying health condition to blame.

This is also true if you’re experiencing other symptoms like shortness of breath or unexplained pain.

A few health conditions that can cause tingling in your arms include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, in which repetitive motion puts excess pressure on a nerve
  • Diabetic neuropathy, caused by prolonged high blood sugar levels—which can damage the nerves
  • A vitamin deficiency—insufficient B vitamins can often lead to tingling in your extremities

Be sure to check in with your doctor if you suspect a health issue is at play.

Why Does Sleeping on My Left Side Make My Right Arm Go Numb?

Similarly, if your opposite arm goes numb while sleeping on your side, that’s also a sign to check in with your doc. You may have a larger musculoskeletal issue to address.

Sleep Experts Weigh In
“Side sleepers often complain about their arms going numb. And sometimes–if their mattress is too soft–they feel like they’re ‘swaying’ inside of it.”
- Greg, Sleep Expert

When Your Mattress Might Be to Blame

If you’ve ruled out underlying health issues and your arms still fall asleep when sleeping, your mattress may be to blame.

“Side sleepers often complain about their arms going numb,” says GhostBed Sleep Expert, Greg. “And sometimes–if their mattress is too soft–they feel like they’re ‘swaying’ inside of it.”

Greg says most side sleepers need a medium-plush, supportive mattress–not a firm mattress like back and stomach sleepers.

If a side-sleeper sleeps on too firm of a mattress, the mattress presses against the side of their body, leading to the nerve compression that can cause side-sleeping arm pain and tingling.

The Best Mattress for Side Sleepers

At GhostBed, we’ve designed the GhostBed Luxe and GhostBed 3D Matrix® to be the perfect combination of plush and supportive for side sleepers. Soft transition foam contours to your body instead of pushing against it, making those annoying pins and needles a thing of the past.

If you’re ready for a better night of sleep (with no irritating pins and needles), take our mattress quiz to find the perfect mattress for you, or book a free consultation with one of our sleep experts today!

Marc Werner - Founder, GhostBed

Marc Werner

Founder - GhostBed

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Marc has spent the last two decades designing & manufacturing mattresses and other sleep products, drawing on a lifetime of experience working with the material sciences. With several patents to his name, he works closely with the GhostBed team to create products with the perfect balance of comfort & support. Learn More

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