How to Sleep with Tennis Elbow: Restful Nights for Recovery

Tennis elbow can be a real pain to deal with, especially when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Finding the right sleeping position can be challenging due to discomfort and pain.

In this guide, we’ll shed light on how to sleep with tennis elbow and provide practical tips and insights to ensure a restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep for better health benefits.

Understanding Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition where the outer part of the elbow becomes painful and tender. Repetitive gripping activities, such as typing or using scissors, can overuse the forearm muscles, leading to strain and injury.

Tennis elbow can have a significant impact on daily activities and sleep is no exception. Pain and discomfort may increase at night, making it challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position.

As a result, it is important to understand the specific challenges of how to sleep with tennis elbow to develop effective strategies.

Sleep Positions for Tennis Elbow

How to Sleep with Tennis Elbow

Choosing the right sleeping position is important for individuals suffering from tennis elbow. This directly affects the amount of pressure on the affected arm and, as a result, plays an important role in promoting a restful night’s sleep.

1. Back Sleeping with Arm Support

People who experience tennis elbow discomfort are usually advised to sleep on their back. This position helps distribute the body weight evenly, reducing pressure on the affected arm.

Place a pillow under the affected arm to improve the condition. It not only provides the necessary support but also helps in relieving pressure on the elbow joint.

The elevation provided by the pillow helps maintain a more neutral position for the arm, reducing stress on the affected muscles and tendons.

This simple adjustment can contribute to a more comfortable and pain-free sleep experience.

2. Side Sleeping with a Pillow Between Arms

For individuals who prefer to sleep on the edge or are naturally attracted to it, a strategic modification can make a substantial difference.

By keeping a pillow between the arms, the balance of the shoulders and spine remains correct. This prevents the affected elbow from being pressed or strained during the night.

This position distributes body weight more evenly, reducing the chance of waking up with increased pain or discomfort.

The pillow acts as a buffer, providing a supportive barrier and ensuring that the affected arm remains in a comfortable and non-irritating position.

3. Experimenting with Different Pillow Heights

Each person may have specific preferences and comfort levels. Experimenting with different pillow heights can help you tailor your sleeping environment to your specific needs.

Some people may find that a slightly higher pillow provides better support, while others may prefer a lower height. It is important to consider not only the rest of the affected arm but also the alignment of the entire spine.

A well-supported neck and spine contribute to an overall healthy sleeping posture, promoting better sleep quality.

4. Avoiding Sleeping on the Affected Side

While it may seem like common sense, avoiding side sleeping with tennis elbow is an important adjustment to make. Consciously training yourself to sleep on your unaffected side or back can significantly reduce pain and discomfort.

It may take some time to break the habit of sleeping on the affected side, but the benefits in the form of reduced stress and improved sleep quality are worth the effort.

Importance of Using Supportive Pillows and Mattress

Investing in the right sleep accessories is fundamental to managing tennis elbow discomfort during sleep. Ergonomic pillows and a supportive mattress play an important role in ensuring proper spinal alignment.

Supportive pillows contribute to maintaining the recommended sleeping position, while a mattress that conforms to your body’s needs can reduce overall pressure points.

Together, they provide the support needed to keep your spine, including the affected arm, in a neutral and comfortable position. This investment can significantly enhance the quality of your sleep and contribute to the healing process.

Bedtime Routines for Tennis Elbow

Incorporating specific bedtime routines is a thoughtful approach to enhancing sleep quality and supporting the healing process for people with tennis elbow.

1. Gentle Stretches Before Bedtime

Doing gentle forearm and elbow exercises before bed can be a game-changer. These stretches serve as a prelude to relaxation, helping to release tension built up throughout the day.

Start with slow and controlled movements, focusing on the affected arm. Gently bend and extend the wrist, rotate the forearm, and do a gentle stretch to relieve any tightness in the muscles and tendons around the elbow.

This not only promotes flexibility but also contributes to relaxing the muscles, reducing stiffness and discomfort.

Incorporating these stretches into your bedtime routine signals your body that it’s time to rest, setting the stage for a more restful and pain-free sleep experience.

2. Applying Ice or Heat Therapy as Needed

Temperature therapy can be a relaxing addition to your bedtime routine, providing relief from the pain and swelling associated with tennis elbow. Choosing between ice and heat therapy depends on the level of discomfort and personal preference.

  • Ice therapy: If there is intense pain or swelling, applying ice to the affected area can help numb the area and reduce swelling. Wrap an ice pack in a thin cloth and apply it for about 15-20 minutes before sleeping.
  • Heat therapy: Heat therapy may be beneficial for chronic pain or stiffness. A warm compress or heating pad applied to the affected elbow can help increase blood flow, relax the muscles, and reduce discomfort.

It is important to note that it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating ice or heat therapy. They can provide personalized recommendations based on the specific nature and severity of your tennis elbow.

3. Taking Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers (if Recommended)

Consulting a healthcare professional is a prerequisite before considering any medication, even over-the-counter pain relievers. If advised by your healthcare provider, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be added to your bedtime routine.

These medications can help manage pain and reduce inflammation, thereby improving sleep quality. It is important to follow the recommended dosage and guidelines provided by your healthcare professional to ensure safe and effective use.

Creating a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Optimizing your sleeping environment can have a huge impact on your ability to sleep comfortably with tennis elbow.

  • Using ergonomic pillows and cushions: Ergonomic pillows and cushions play an important role in providing adequate support. They contribute to maintaining a neutral spine and reducing stress on the affected arm.
  • Adjusting room temperature and lighting: Creating a favorable sleep environment includes adjusting the room temperature and reducing light exposure. A cool, dark room promotes better sleep quality.
  • Investing in a supportive mattress: A supportive mattress is essential for overall spinal health. Choose a mattress that provides proper support and comfort, ensuring a better night’s sleep despite the discomfort of tennis elbow.

Sleep Aids and Accessories

Some sleep aids and accessories can enhance your sleep experience when dealing with tennis elbow.

  1. Using braces or splints while sleeping: Consult a healthcare professional to determine whether using braces or a splint during sleep is beneficial. These aids can help stabilize the affected arm and reduce movement.
  2. Trying sleep aids or over-the-counter remedies (if recommended): Some individuals may find relief from sleep aids or over-the-counter treatments. However, always seek professional advice before incorporating any such aids into your daily routine.

Lifestyle Changes for Better Sleep

Making specific lifestyle changes may contribute to better sleep quality even with tennis elbow.

  1. Managing stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can increase pain. Practice stress management techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to promote relaxation before bed.
  2. Incorporating relaxation techniques before bed: In addition to stress management, incorporating relaxation techniques, such as a warm bath or calming music, can signal your body that it is time to rest.
  3. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule: Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule helps regulate your body’s internal clock, promoting better sleep quality. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

Seeking Professional Advice

For effective management of tennis elbow and its impact on sleep, it is important to know when to seek professional advice.

  • When to consult a healthcare professional: If your tennis elbow symptoms persist or worsen, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend individualized treatment options.
  • Possible Medical Treatments for Tennis Elbow: Medical treatments and therapies may include physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, or, in severe cases, surgical intervention. Your healthcare provider will guide you about the most appropriate course of action.
  • Importance of following professional advice for better sleep: It is important to follow the advice and recommendations of healthcare professionals for effective recovery. This includes following prescribed treatments and modifications to your sleep routine.


In conclusion, sleeping with tennis elbow can present challenges, but with the right strategies, you can still enjoy restful nights as you recover. From optimizing sleep position and bedtime routines to creating a comfortable sleep environment and seeking professional advice, these practical tips can make a significant difference. Remember, prioritizing your sleep is an essential component of the healing process. sweet dreams!

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