How To Sleep Better With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome is nerve pain in the median nerve of the wrist and hand that causes anything from mild discomfort to severe pains in the hand, wrist, and forearm. The median nerve is what allows your muscles to perform everyday tasks like gripping things and typing so it’s constantly in use.
When you overuse these musclesin your wrist and hand,it puts additional pressure on the nerve causing pain, tingling, and numbness in the wrist, hand, fingers, and up the forearm that carpal tunnel syndrome is known for. This discomfort can make daily activities difficult but it can also affect your sleep as the pain can keep you awake or give you a fitful sleep.
Why Does Carpal Tunnel Hurt at Night?
At nighttime, the tissue fluid in your arms redistributes because your muscles aren’t moving as they do during the day. This buildupof fluid puts more pressure on the median nerve and increases your pain or discomfort. When you experience the discomfort that goes along with carpal tunnel syndrome you can have trouble getting comfortable and falling asleep.
You can also wake up in the middle of the night if your pain is severe enough. This interruption of sleep can affect your health and your performance the next day, too, which isn’t ideal. Luckily, there are things you can do to alleviate your nighttime carpal tunnel pain to help you sleep better.
Pain Remedies for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
There are a lot of things that you can do before you go to sleep at night that can help decrease your discomfort overnight. Try out some or all of these remedies before you turn in for the night and see if they help you sleep better.
Massaging your hand and wrist can keep the tissue fluid from settling and putting pressure on your median nerve. Before you go to bed, gently massage your arm and wrist. Use relaxing essential oils like lavender, frankincense, and myrrh that can also help reduce pain and inflammation for an added benefit. This might be painful at first as you break up knots in the area but it will alleviate the pain enough to help you rest
Hot or Cold Therapy
If you’re familiar with nerve or joint pain it should be no surprise that heat and ice can help relieve pain and swelling. Alternating between a hot and cold pack will move the tissue fluid so it doesn’t pressure the median nerve. The cold will also draw blood away from the area to relieve more pressure. You may find that one works more than the other for you so you can stick to using one (cold or hot) or alternate between the two in 15-minute increments for about an hour before going to sleep. You may also consider sleeping with a hot or cold pack wrapped around your wrist.
Soak in the Bathtub
Before crawling into bed take a hot bath with Epsom salts dissolved in it. The Epsom salt keeps your blood flowing and will relieve pressure on your median nerve as well as throughout your body. This can help you relax, too. The magnesium in the salt is a muscle relaxer that also has anti-inflammatory properties to relieve swelling and pain. It’s absorbed through the skin with the help of the warm water. Magnesium actually works as a sleep aid, too.
You should also evaluate and, if necessary, change your sleeping position. There are ways that people sleep that can actually make your carpal tunnel pain worse. By changing the way you sleep you might be able to do enough to relieve your discomfort and sleep better.
First, consider elevating your wrist above your body in order to keep the fluid from draining to the area. You can do this by simply propping your arm up with an extra pillow or you can get a foam block if you think you need sturdier support. Second, if you sleep in the fetal position or on your stomach, you can be putting unnecessary extra pressure on your median nerve due to the positioning of your arms. Instead of sleeping in those positions, try sleeping on your back.
There will be less pressure on your arms this way. You can also sleep on your side as long as you’re not balled up in the fetal position. Using a body pillow or an extra-large pillow to hug while on your side can help you from folding your arms toward your body. Think about how you normally sleep and figure out a way to position yourself so there is no additional pressure on your arms and wrists.
Sleep Braces for Carpal Tunnel
Some of you might be dealing with severe discomfort that requires additional support. Consider going to sleep wearing a carpal tunnel wrist brace. This brace will help hold your wrist in a neutral position that will keep the pressure off of the median nerve enough to allow you to get some rest. This might take some getting used to but having this external support will stop you from unknowingly putting your wrist in a bad position as you sleep.
Wrist guards for sleeping can be readily purchased online and can be used by itself or in addition to the aforementioned remedies. They are available in universal sizes or you can get specific braces for your right or left hand. They can also be bought according to your gender since women tend to have smaller wrists.
The whole idea here is to keep your wrist in a position that will free you from pain as you sleep so it’s important that you find one that fits you properly and that is specifically designed for sleep. There are other wrist braces that offer support for other activities like playing sports or even for typing. These are made differently and won’t work for sleeping.
Wrist braces typically wrap around your wrist and usually around the palm of your hand to prevent the wrist from bending. There are some that just wrap around the wrist, but those don’t offer you as much support as the braces that stabilize the whole area. They usually have padding for extra comfort but some might have hard rods or stiffer material that offer stronger support.
Look for ones that offer softer materials that won’t irritate you while you sleep. You might also want to look for something that is breathable or made of lighter material especially for use in the warmer summer months. If you need the support during the daytime, too, there are also braces available that can be used during the day and night. However, due to the dual nature of these braces, they might be too uncomfortable for some people to sleep in. As you can see, there are plenty of options to sift through so it’s best to read the specifics on each before deciding on the right one to purchase for your specific needs.
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes pain and discomfort for many people across the world, but it doesn’t have to control your life or your sleeping patterns anymore. By finding out how to sleep with carpal tunnel syndrome or by using some of the before-bedtime tips here you can decrease your discomfort and sleep better than you have before.