How to Sleep with Frozen Shoulder

If the pain of frozen shoulder is keeping you from a good night’s sleep, do not despair. 

There are numerous strategies to help you sleep well with a frozen shoulder. Lack of sleep due to the pain of frozen shoulder is common and quite manageable. 

We all require sufficient sleep. The importance of good sleep is even greater when recovering from a frozen shoulder.

The sleep experts recommend seven to nine hours of refreshing shut eye a night.  I wasn’t getting enough. Are you?

My frozen shoulder pain kept me awake for months. I was lucky to get two or three hours. My nerves were frayed and my emotions on the brink of collapse. To survive, I had to find sleeping strategies. And I did. 

Why does Frozen Shoulder hurt worse at night?

Is It Just My Imagination?

In the daytime we are active and distracted. We forget about our pain. At night, the intense discomfort of frozen shoulder rears its ugly head. We can’t sleep. 

Scientifically speaking, during rest, blood flow to the body slows down. The kidneys become less able to remove water leading to retention and increased internal pressure. Our bodies swell. This higher pressure increases inflammation and pain. There is a legitimate reason for your night time pain. 

How Do You Stop Frozen Shoulder Pain at Night?

Image of a clock, why does frozen shoulder hurt more at night

Gentle Stretching

  • Try performing very light upper body stretches. These gentle movements help to relax stiff muscles and decrease inflammation and discomfort.


  • Take advantage of pain relieving medications like Aspirin and ibuprofen. These over the counter pills ease the night time pain of frozen shoulder. Take them close to bedtime. 

Reduce Day Time Movement

  • Excess movement during the day increases inflammation and pain during sleep.  Limit vigorous daily activity.  Less pain equals a restful night. 

Sleep Position

  • We can’t always control our sleep position as we move unconsciously. However, we can limit movement. Place a pillow on your frozen shoulder side to prevent rolling.
  • Switching to the other side of the bed can often reduce habitual night time movement and reduce discomfort.  

Frozen Shoulder Sleeping Tips

Herbal teas are a great way to improve sleep with frozen shoulder

Herbal Teas

  • Some great tasting teas to help with relaxation and sleep are magnolia, chamomile, lavender, valerian and passion flower tea. Find them in your local grocery or health food store. 

Pillows For Comfort

  • Common household pillows are a wonderful tool to help with the night time pain of frozen shoulder. 
  • Lie on your healthy side and hug a cushion or pillow. This position will support your painful arm and prevent unwanted movement. 
  • Resist sleeping on your front. This causes instability in your shoulders.  Sleep on your back to keep your shoulders aligned. 
  • Place a pillow under your head for more comfortable shoulders.  Add more support to your head by placing a small rolled up towel under your neck.
  • A body pillow can also provide significant relief. These full length pillows are very comfortable and prevent unwanted movement.

Heat And Pain Reduction

  • Heat on the shoulders at bedtime equals less pain and better sleep. Use a heating pad, hot pack, or take a hot shower.

Nutritional Supplements

  • Well known natural sleep aids include melatonin, valerian and magnesium supplements.

Guided Meditation

  • YouTube has a complete library of free guided sleep meditations for you to discover. Guided meditation is guaranteed to relax and support a good night’s sleep.

Sleep Hygiene

  • Keep your room dark and cool, limit technology and large meals before bed and  maintain a consistent sleep schedule to ensure a good night’s sleep. 

My 5 Favorite Sleeping Strategies

  • Chamomile Tea. Remember to brew for 5 to10 minutes in a covered mug.
  • Lavender Oil. Apply to hands, arms and temples with a gentle massage.
  • White Noise. I used a fan most nights for refreshing air circulation and to block outside distractions.
  • Sleep Meditations. Find one you like on YouTube, stick in some earbuds, and in no time you will be asleep.
  • Gratitude and Optimism. End each night with positive thoughts. Be thankful for how far you have come and optimistic for a good night’s sleep and healthy recovery.

Wrap Up

Treat your frozen shoulder with attention and care.  See a physiotherapist for treatment, support, stretches, pain relief, mobility assessment, and sleeping strategies. Experiment with  sleeping positions and pillows. Try guided sleep meditations. Good nutrition is also important.

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Final Thoughts

Working through the pain and discomfort of frozen shoulder is physically and mentally exhausting. What works well one week to reduce frozen shoulder pain may not work the next. Be proactive. Do some research. Most importantly, make sure to take advantage of all of the available sleep techniques to ensure a rejuvenating sleep and healthy recovery from your frozen shoulder. 

Image 1 – Courtesy of UnSplash  kinga-cichewicz 

Image 2 – Courtesy of UnSplash  khadeeja-yasser-9j 

Image 3 – Courtesy of UnSplash  manki-kim L82-KK

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