If you’ve ever woken up with numbness in your hands, you’ll know that it can be both an uncomfortable and concerning experience. But, why exactly do your hands go numb while you’re sleeping?
According to Healthline, the most common cause of numbness in your hands while sleeping is nerve compression, which is usually brought on by awkward sleeping positions such as falling asleep with body pressure on your arms or hands. This can usually be prevented by simply changing up your usual sleeping positions. However, experiencing numb hands in your sleep could also signify a more serious condition.
Per Medical News Today, this includes carpal tunnel syndrome, which generally occurs when the nerves in someone’s hands are inflamed or overused. Those who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome may experience numbness or tingling sensations in the thumb, index, and middle finger.
According to Well and Good, if a person experiences the same symptoms in their ring and pinky fingers during sleep, this could be attributed to cubital tunnel syndrome. Elsewhere, numbness in your hands while sleeping can also be linked to spinal problems, pregnancy or diabetes-related nerve pain. According to the American Diabetes Association, roughly half of all people living with diabetes will experience “some form of nerve damage.”
Here's when to seek medical help
Orthopaedic surgeon Joseph Schreiber, of the Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic in Raleigh, North Carolina, explained that numbness in your hands can be your body’s way of informing you that something isn’t quite right, and if the problem persists, Schreiber recommends booking an appointment with a doctor (via Well and Good). “If people ignore this for a long time, they can start to develop other problems such as weakness or more permanent numbness and tingling,” he explained.
Elsewhere, other more serious causes of hand numbness in your sleep include syphilis, lupus, certain forms of arthritis, encephalitis, and tumors (via Medical News Today).
Per Healthline, there are ways to help prevent more common and less-serious causes of hand numbness during sleep, including keeping your arms by your side at night, avoiding sleeping in the fetal position, and ensuring your arms are not positioned under your pillow or body while you sleep, as this can put significant pressure on the nerves in your hands.
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