Is the way you sleep making you ache?

According to the poll I put on Facebook yesterday - 83% of you ache in the morning! Could the way you sleep be the reason?

We’ve been thinking about shoulders all week and I realised a lot of my aches and pains have stemmed from bad sleeping habits.

I had a cat when I was a girl and she liked to lie between my legs. This taught me to lie very still so she wouldn't jump down. We’re supposed to move a bit when we sleep. But I pretty much stay in the same position for up to 8 (if I’m lucky!) hours. Imagine sitting still for that length of time and how your joints would seize up.

My girls co-slept with me as babies and they often crept into my bed when they were older too! I have spent most of the night with a head on my shoulder and my arm cradling them. This shoulder is the one that gave me bother about a year ago.

I went through a period of really intense pain in my chest/shoulder/arm. It was exacerbated by the position I slept in. I was on my side but allowing my shoulder to curl underneath me. So an already tight chest and front of shoulder was pushed right out of alignment.

A number of things helped at the time - I visited a physio and got some exercises, I had several very deep tissue massages over a few weeks, and I then did a training day of Trigger Point Pilates, which was what finally solved the issue.

Since then I’ve not had any recurrence of pain in my shoulder. Below are some of the things I do to try to prevent my sleep causing me pain.

Sleeping position

I now use pillows to support me in bed. Below is a snippet of a video that is part of my pregnancy course but I still use the same pillow arrangement (bar the one under my waist). It stops me rolling my shoulder under.

Morning stretch routine

If your stiffness is more in your back and hips here are some stretches you can do in bed before you get up. Some kind of mobility work in the morning is a great way to loosen up.
I often do these in bed before getting up!

Topical magnesium

Another thing I’ve just started using before bed is topical magnesium. I just massage it on to either my neck and shoulders, my back and hips, or my calves. Not sure if it’s doing anything but I don’t feel achey in the mornings. Even without the magnesium, a little bit of self massage can help with sleep.


I have a very old mattress, so this year is the year I replace it. It will be interesting to see if this makes a difference to the way I feel when I wake up. They should be replaced every 8 years and should support your spine without creating pressure points.

Is sleeping making you achey? I hope some of these hacks will help!

Ongoing Trigger Point work has helped me the most. I no longer feel like a zombie in the morning, nor do I need to take the stairs one step at a time! If you want to find out more about my Trigger Point Pilates monthly sessions click here


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