Waking up with a completely numb hand might be a little amusing at first, but for many people, it occurs often enough that it becomes a concern. If it frequently happens to someone’s dominant hand, it can be extremely annoying if they need to go to the restroom, get a drink of water, or start making breakfast. Is there a way to prevent this? Could this be a sign of a condition like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome? We share everything you need to know to rest easy in today’s blog.
Why Hands Go Numb During the Night
Fortunately, the primary reason the hands go numb while sleeping is a relatively benign one: sleep position.
Laying on your side, your stomach, or with your arms above your head can cause your wrists to be bent in a way that cuts off circulation to the hand and compresses one of the primary nerves. The ulnar nerve controls the muscles in your forearms and extends into your ring and pinky fingers, the median nerve enables you to feel your index and middle fingers, and the radial nerve allows your muscles to extend your fingers and wrist. Each one can become pinched and constricted while in bed, leading to that “pins and needles” sensation.
How to Avoid Numb Hands While Sleeping
- Try to sleep on your back with your hands either on your stomach or at your sides.
- If you need to sleep on your side, place one hand on your thigh (the one facing up) and avoid putting the other hand underneath your pillow—the weight of your head can put pressure on the nerves. It’s best to try and keep your elbow as straight as possible, too.
- If you start in one sleeping position, but tend to move throughout the night to one that causes your hand(s) to go numb, it might be worth investing in a brace that will keep your elbow and wrist straight. These can easily be found online. Once you get used to sleeping on your back, you can likely stop using a brace.
When You Should Go See a Doctor
If you frequently wake up in the morning with a numb hand, but it quickly goes away after you start moving around, then this isn’t cause for concern. But, if the numbness and tingling doesn’t immediately dissipate, occurs alongside pain, develops no matter your sleep position, or even wakes you up in the middle of the night, then it’s time to get professional help. These symptoms may indicate an injury to the wrist, hand, or nerve and are telltale signs of conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Thankfully, this kind of problem is usually easy to treat when detected early, and most options don’t involve invasive procedures or medication.
If adjusting your sleep position doesn’t help, it’s definitely worth your time to visit a doctor and see what they have to say. They can help determine which nerve is being affected and provide treatment to stop any numbness or tingling before it starts, so that when you wake up in the morning, you’re ready to go right away.
About the Author
Dr. Paul Tortland has been serving the Glastonbury area since 1995 as a sports and regenerative medicine specialist. For people dealing with nerve issues in their wrists and hands, he can combine traditional treatment methods with cutting-edge techniques like nerve hydrodissection and PRP therapy to help someone heal and get back to normal without having to rely on surgery or medication. If you’re concerned about numbness, tingling, or pain in your wrists or hands, contact him today to start getting the care you deserve.