Does my arm take long term damage if it falls asleep every third night?

submitted by Grogon edited

My right arm is completly numb and I panic out of my bed sometimes. The reason is that I fall asleep on my shoulder and sometimes it takes a minute til it functions again.

Last night I fell asleep again and woke up and it it took longer than usual to get it back to moving. I started crying and was totally panic mode.

Is this something that can cause long term issues if this happens frequently or should I change the way I sleep? Can I ignore it?

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Don't listen to anyone here that replies, including myself. Because no one can affirm they are a fucking doctor.

But the answer is yes, I asked my doctor and she said it will cause long term damage and should be diagnosed with testing.

You should go see a fucking doctor for medical advice, not morons on the internet.


Am doctor, can confirm. Don't trust lying morons on the Internet.

Trailblazing Braille Taser

Am moron, but I think you should trust melon on the internet


Am not melon. Think you should trust doctor on internet


What if you can’t afford a fucking doctor and you need to see a regular one instead of


I asked my regular doctor to refer me to a fucking doctor.


Medical debt is an eminently more solvable problem than death or permanent disability. This is not a defense of America's fucking criminal private medical system, but this is absolutely a valid lesser of two evils situation here.

trolololol , edited

You can always seek todo like me and many other people born in 3rd world and migrate to 1st world country.

If you're in US I hear Canada is a great place to move to, and easy too. I hear they have the freedom of good cheap healthcare. I would trade the freedom to have Nazis with that any day.

Smoogs , edited

Depends on where in Canada.

Yes it’s free.

In Toronto you’re looked after and it’s the dream.

In Quebec a doctor will happily step over you if you don’t speak French.

In BC: sure, the medical is free. But good luck finding a doctor.

And in the small print: Oh but actually they don’t see teeth or eyes as a real issue that gets covered. If you need a root canal just take an advil. Forever.


Canada's national defense, GDP, and import/export economies are completely reliant on USA. Living in that shadow should scare Canadians, because if USA decides one day "you know what? Fuck Canada", there's literally nothing they can do to defend themselves if the entire might of US military and economic power is imposed. It's like having an unhinged wealthy gun-nut neighbor living in the flat right next to you.


There's not a lot most people could do if the USA decided to impose the entire might of their military and economic power.

Smoogs , edited

With the exception that US military is comprised by many Canadians(Eg NORAD) in a deal that they don’t do exactly that. The ‘US’ military will easily be halved by a chunk of it killing the other for even suggesting it.


What I got from you is: us peepee big. China peepee bigger but they're commies. Everyone else peepee small.


If this doctors office is a rocking don't come a knocking


Welcome to America


OK anecdote time! I OD'd on fentanyl purposefully. I passed out hard for about 15hrs on my arm. It was numb and dead for 3 months before I could even make a full fist. But eventually feeling and movement came back and I'm now operating at almost 100 percent again. It's both frightening and astonishing how easily you can damage your nerves and with some luck repair.


Exactly. Only morons listen to morons on the internet.

That's how you get convinced to put a grenade in a microwave to test if it's live



trolololol , edited

If I put my phone in to charge at the same time would it compromise the grenade test?


How else would you Livestream it


I see a big potential for YouTube career in you.


Phone inside body Livestream?


Yes, OP, please consult a doctor


Thirding this advice, please talk to a medical professional. If nothing else,

I started crying and was totally panic mode

That is not something you should have to live with. You deserve a well informed answer to what's going on with your own body if only for your own peace of mind.


Not a doctor, but I do suffer from thoracic outlet syndrome. Numbness after sleeping or while using a phone was one of the only symptoms I got before my blood clots.

Sometimes this would be the full arm and sometimes just in the ulnar nerve (outside of palms and pinkie + ring finger).

Maybe try doing the roos stress test at home and talking to a doctor if you get symptoms. If left untreated you may end up with permanent venous and/or nervous system damage (like me).

Obviously this isn't the only thing that can cause numbness in your arms after sleeping. I'm just spreading the word on TOS because it's what I'm familiar with, and because I wish someone had done so for me years ago!


Surgical tech here (bottom of the medical food chain, so take that for what it's worth [not shit]). Adding to the chorus of "ASK YOUR DOCTOR!!!" bc words from anonymous internet strangers are trash.

...but if it instills a sense of urgency: I've helped with a couple of arm amputations from patients falling asleep on them and cutting off blood circulation to the extent that the tissue dies. Iirc, both of those involved longer-than-normal periods of sleeping on it due to drugs - unsure if there's any risk of that from a normal sleep schedule. But yeah, the various chunks that make up *you* all need oxygen to do their thing; depriving those chunks of oxygen generally leads to not-so-great outcomes.


I was under the impression that limbs "falling asleep" was more of a nerve thing and not a circulation thing. Is that not true?


Nerves don't like pressure, so that'll definitely irritate them.

Cutting off blood and suddenly restoring it later can cause a similar sensation.

Actual tissue death though is gonna be from blood loss.


Change the way you sleep.

I once spent nearly a year without enough sleep because I'd wake up in the middle of the night with my hands so numb that they hurt, which is a weird feeling. I'd have to sit up and lean forward shaking my hands until the feeling came back, then lay back down and try to sleep only to be woken up again 30 minutes later. It nearly drove me insane. Even taking sleeping aides didn't stop the pain from waking me up.

It didn't know why until one night for reasons I still don't know, I threw my pillow aside and rolled a t-shirt up to stick under my neck, so that my head could lean back instead of propping it up and forward. I slept for 10 hours straight and my hands didn't go numb the entire time. I figured it was a pinched nerve that I finally released the pressure by sleeping with my head leaned back. Since then I've found a small pillow that fits nicely under my neck. I haven't had an incident ever since.

It's not worth the pain and sleepless nights. Just change the way you sleep and stop torturing yourself.


When my wife and I moved to our current house, we decided to get a decent bed. We spent good money on a very good mattress. While at the mattress store, my wife decided its a good idea to buy expensive thick memory-foam pillows too. Medium size for her, and large for me.

I found that the way the pillow pushed my head so far up and forward was pretty uncomfortable. My chin was touching my chest all night. I decided that sleeping with my head further back and my shoulders up on the pillow helped a bit, but it was still uncomfortable how much it pushed my shoulders up and forward too.

I put up with that for 4 years, thinking I'd just get used to it eventually. Then I had a revelation that I could just go back to my old pillow. Humans aren't supposed to sleep with their head, neck and shoulders at a crazy angle, no matter how expensive the pillow is. Thankfully I never got a numb arm or sore hand or any other nerve or vascular issue from it.

I eventually found the perfect pillow for me that is actually pretty similar to the rolled up tshirt idea you mentioned.

ShadowCatEXE , edited

I’m not a doctor, but I do experience the same thing. I recently saw a doctor for wrist pain, and was eventually diagnosed with cubital tunnel syndrome, and was told to use an elbow brace when sleeping.

I can say that using the elbow brace has helped slightly with the wrist pain, and it does result in me no longer waking up with numbness.

The brace keeps your arm straight, and forces me to sleep in a way where there’s no/very little pressure put on my elbow.

Highly suggest you see a doctor, but if you can’t, look into elbow braces (they are affordable). But please get a professional opinion.


I never thought about this but this happens to me occasionally. I often put my arm under my head and pillow for support and comfort. Maybe once every couple weeks I'll wake up and it's numb or fully asleep.

I don't have an answer but I'm 34, this has been happening my whole life, and I haven't noticed any issues.


Numbness from putting weight on something usually means you are restricting blood-flow.

Generally harmless, doing so for 9 hours every night could eventually lead to atrophy of the limb.

Try to mix up your sleeping arrangement to not sleep with the full weight of your body on your shoulder all night every night.

We are talking 8 hours a night for years to have any lasting impact, unless you have something like diabetes, where the nerve damage will occur faster.

Don't panic, just try to change your sleeping position/sleeping surface.

NJSpradlin , edited

Like everyone else said, consult a doctor. But, it could also be pinched nerves, which is my issue, and unrelated to blood flow and oxygen in your limb. So, if you’re getting it checked out, don’t be surprised if it comes back to that. Now, I only started having the issue in that arm after I got mauled in that hand, but I could just be getting old, too.

Anyway, I just don’t sleep with my arm in that position anymore. I can’t remember having the problem anytime recently, either.

Edit: for those curious, and having thought about it overnight, if my wrist(s) isn’t straight when I sleep, or if my elbow is leaning a certain way on a desk chair or the car door while I’m driving it’ll go numb. Carpel tunnel stuff, they said. But, otherwise fully manageable.

FartsWithAnAccent , edited

If you deprive body parts of oxygen for long enough, I suppose it's possible but practically speaking it seems unlikely.

I would agree with BroqueInMind though: Talk to your doctor, if nothing else but for reassurance from someone who has spent serious time learning about the human body.


I am not a doctor.

If the numb arm is causing you to wake up then, yes, you should adjust your sleeping position. Not because of your arm but because sleeping well is important.

What you are experiencing is called obdormition (the limb falling asleep) and paresthesia (the pins and needles feeling when it wakes up again). I'm 36 and it happened countless times to me, no ill effects.

IKenshinI , edited

I've had this same problem and developed some nerve damage/chronic pain. Took a few months of sleeping with better posture (yes its really hard to change at first), and it recovered.

I did see a doctor that confirmed the issue, did an x-ray and recommended posture change.

HatchetHaro , edited

IANAD, but if it's causing you stress, bro just change your sleeping position, buy one of those gimmick mattresses that specifically has slots for your arm to fall into (like the SONU Sleep System), or just use a buttload of pillows.

Consult a doctor first if that's cheaper than buying a whole new mattress.

Melkath , edited

Consult a doctor first if that’s cheaper than buying a whole new mattress.

I go back to the joke, specifically when House did a similar joke when he was in clinic:

Patient: Doctor! When I bend over like this bends over, and I move my leg to the right like this twists leg to the right, and I take my palm and do this takes palm and presses it against the side of his thigh, I get excruciating shooting pains that go from my thigh to the tips of my toes!

Doctor: So you bend over?

Patent: Yes.

Doctor: and then you twist your leg?

Patient: Yes, like this shows how he twists his leg again.

Doctor: and then you press on your thigh with your palm.

Patient: Yes.

Doctor: And that causes intense pain?

Patient: Yes!

Doctor: And you direly want that pain to not occur?

Patient: YES! Doctor, it has taken over my life, I need it to stop!


As an intermittent insomnia sufferer who depends on a very specific sleep ritual to actually get good sleep, I feel the pain, but yes... the answer a doctor is going to give is "stop doing that".

The new mattress/fuckload of pillows is some on point advice.

Darkassassin07 , edited


But: that feeling is from lack/loss of blood flow through your limb. Limbs kinda need blood to survive. (well, oxygen from your blood...)

Probably not gonna kill ya, but I doubt it's good for you either.


Not lack of blood. It’s from a pinched nerve.


Not sure if mentioned yet. But this started happening to me a few months back. I talked to my physician and he immediately suspected vitamin B12 deficiency. Which, after a blood test, turned out to be correct. 5 vitamin shots later (1 per week) and the problem was gone pretty much instantly.


I'm not a doctor. Take what I'm saying with a grain of salt.

Pretty sure the answer is "it's fine."

I got really into meditation for a while. And sitting for 4 (or 6 or 8) hours in the lotus position and just forcing yourself not to move *will* result in numbness for at least part of the time.

And it was common knowledge among the folks I learned from on YouTube and in books that such numbness wasn't any concern long-term-damage-wise. (You wanted to be careful getting up from your meditation cushion just because numbness in the legs can result in falls. But that's not related to what you're asking about.) As long as you could "walk it off" and it didn't last, say, an hour or more, it wasn't an issue. Even if you meditated for 8 hours every day and spent 7.9 of that with agonizing numbness in your legs.

Again, I'm not a doctor, and I couldn't tell you for sure whether that transfers to what you're asking about specifically, but that's just what I've heard.