Tips for Preventing Sore Hips, Knees, and Shoulders from Keeping You Awake at Night

When you have chronic pain, nighttime can be tough. Between 50-90% of people with chronic pain have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. And it turns into a vicious cycle. At In Touch NYC Physical Therapy, we know that when you don’t sleep well, your sensitivity to soreness and pain is often greater. Plus, missing out on sleep can make you grumpy, interfere with your energy levels, and cause weight gain.

You experience more pain at night because you don’t have an activity to distract you. Movement increases joint lubrication, too. When you’re still as you sleep, pain worsens. Plus, your joints swell at night, which can make the pain more intense.

Don’t wake up in the middle of the night and stay up due to pain. Take steps at night to minimize the discomfort you feel in your hips, knees, and shoulders.

Sleep position

Find a comfortable sleep position so you avoid tossing and turning to get settled. Start out on one side — avoiding the side with a sore shoulder if you have one — and tuck a pillow between your knees. Don’t sleep on your back, which can exacerbate pain.

If your shoulder still bothers you, sleep with it in a sling so it stays immobile and doesn’t get twisted under your body or overhead.

Mattress choice

Replace your mattress regularly — every five to seven years says the National Sleep Foundation. Choose one that’s firm and supportive. A foam pad added on top can support your weight evenly and discourage pain, too.

Practice good sleep habits

Keep your sleep pattern regular. Try to go to bed and get up close to the same time every day. Sleep in a dark, cool room and keep electronics away. Minimize noise distractions, too.

Choose the right pain medication

Opt for a pain medication that supports you for more than just a few hours, if possible. Naproxen, for example, lasts for up to 12 hours.

Exercise during the day

Exercise uses energy so you’re more tired at night. It’s a proven way to improve sleep disorders. Plus, low-impact exercise — including walking or swimming — can help with pain.

Avoid sleeping pills and alcohol

You might be tempted to use sleep aids when you just can’t initiate sleep on your own. But, in the long term, these aids can lead to dependence and disturb your natural sleep cycles.


Perform stretches for the muscles around your sore hips, knees, and shoulders before settling down for the night. This can help release tension that’s built up during the day and increases circulation. It only takes a few minutes and can prompt a night of better slumber.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing techniques, such as inhaling fully for a count of five to eight and exhaling for an equal amount of time, can calm your nervous system. It also distracts you from discomfort and pain.

White noise

Listening to soothing sounds, such as ocean waves or rain drops, as you drift off can promote good sleep. Quiet, relaxing music may also be a good choice.

If these self-care techniques still don’t resolve your pain, consult the team at In Touch NYC Physical Therapy for support. They can teach you exercises and methods that reduce soreness in your joints and allow for better sleep.

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