How to Sleep Comfortably with Tennis Elbow

  • Mulki Sulaeman
  • Jul 14, 2023
How to Sleep Comfortably with Tennis Elbow

Understanding Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a common injury that affects people who engage in repetitive arm movements such as playing tennis, gardening, or typing for long hours. It occurs when the outer part of the elbow becomes painful and tender. The pain is caused by the damage or strain to the tendons that connect the forearm muscle to the elbow joint.

Tennis elbow is not limited to athletes who play tennis. Anyone who engages in activities that involve repetitive wrist and arm movements can develop this condition. This includes plumbers, painters, butchers, and computer professionals. People who have poor posture or those who use improper equipment during work are also more prone to developing tennis elbow.

It is important to understand that tennis elbow is not just a mild discomfort. If left untreated, it can lead to chronic pain and difficulty in doing simple daily activities such as opening doors, shaking hands, and lifting objects. Therefore, it is essential to address the problem as soon as possible.

How Sleeping Affects Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, formally called lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that causes inflammation of the tendons in the elbow. This condition is often caused by repetitive motions, such as swinging a tennis racket or using a computer mouse. While different remedies are available for treating tennis elbow, sleep plays a vital role in the healing process of tennis elbow.

Sleeping serves as a natural therapy to tennis elbow, which helps to restore the damaged tendons in the elbow. During sleep, the body repairs and regenerates damaged tissues, which is why rest and sleep are vital for recovery from any injury. Getting enough sleep will allow the body to repair itself and ensure that the muscles surrounding the elbow have ample time to repair and heal.

Inadequate sleep has been linked to stress and inflammation, which can worsen the symptoms of tennis elbow. During sleep, the body releases cytokines, which are protein molecules that help combat inflammation and infections. Inflammation is one of the primary causes of tennis elbow, and getting enough sleep can help reduce the inflammation of the affected area.

Good sleeping habits can also help in regulating weight. Overweight individuals place more stress on their joints and muscles, including the elbow joint, and this can strain the tendons leading to tennis elbow. Getting adequate sleep is essential for weight management and helps maintain physical fitness.

It is crucial to establish a consistent sleep schedule to ensure the body has sufficient time to heal and recover naturally. Getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night is essential in supporting a healthy body and allowing it to recover from injuries like tennis elbow. Furthermore, it is necessary to establish a routine sleep pattern to promote better sleep and create a healthy sleep environment.

Lastly, maintaining correct sleeping posture is also vital in treating tennis elbow. Lying on the affected side may apply pressure on the elbow leading to pain and discomfort. Instead, it is best to sleep on the back or the opposite side of the affected elbow. It is advisable to use a comfortable pillow that can support the neck, shoulder, and elbow so that the arm is appropriately aligned


Adequate sleep is an essential part of the healing process for those with tennis elbow. It is crucial to establish a consistent routine and environment for better sleep. Maintaining a healthy sleep pattern and posture is also critical to aid in recovery and reduce the severity of tennis elbow symptoms.

The Best Sleeping Positions for Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition caused by overuse of the forearm and arm muscles. When you have tennis elbow, certain movements become unbearable and simple tasks like sleeping become difficult. Finding the best sleeping position for tennis elbow can reduce pain and protect your joint from unnecessary strain.

Here are the top three sleeping positions that can help alleviate the pain of tennis elbow:

1. Sleeping on Your Back

Sleeping on your back with your arm resting at your side is the best position for reducing tennis elbow pain. This position allows your elbow to be in a neutral position and reduces the pressure on the joint. To maximize your comfort, place a pillow under your elbow for added support. A small pillow under your head can also help maintain a neutral spine alignment and minimize strain on your neck muscles.

2. Sleeping on Your Unaffected Side

Another way to alleviate the pain of tennis elbow is to sleep on your unaffected side. This position also reduces the pressure on the affected elbow, as it is not supporting the weight of your upper body. To keep your spine in a neutral position, place a firm pillow between your legs. You can also use a small pillow to support your neck and maintain spinal alignment.

3. Sleeping in a Semi-Fetal Position

Sleeping in a semi-fetal position can help reduce pressure on the elbow and decrease discomfort. To sleep in this position, lie on your back and place a pillow under your head. Bend your knees and place one or two pillows between them, so your legs are slightly elevated. Then, roll onto your side so that your injured arm is on top. This position takes pressure off your elbow while maintaining spinal alignment and reducing strain on your back and neck muscles.

Remember, everyone’s body is unique, and the best sleeping position for you may vary. Experiment with different positions to find the one that works best for you. It’s also important to keep your sleeping environment comfortable. Invest in a good quality mattress and pillows that provide support for your body. Sleeping with tennis elbow can be challenging, but with the right position and sleep support, you can wake up pain-free!

Other Tips to Improve Sleep with Tennis Elbow

Aside from the tips mentioned above, here are other things you can do to improve your sleep when you have tennis elbow:

1. Avoid sleeping on your affected elbow

As mentioned earlier, sleeping on your affected elbow can worsen your condition. Avoid this by sleeping on your back or on the opposite side of your affected elbow. You can also use a pillow to elevate your affected arm while you sleep.

2. Use heat therapy

Heat therapy can help relieve pain and stiffness in your affected elbow. Apply a warm compress or take a warm bath before bedtime to help relax your muscles and ease your pain. Just make sure to avoid applying heat directly to your elbow for too long as this can cause burns.

3. Practice relaxation techniques

Tennis elbow can cause discomfort and tension that may disrupt your sleep. To counter this, try practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. These techniques can help calm your mind and soothe your muscles, preparing you for a restful sleep.

4. Try over-the-counter medications

If the pain from your tennis elbow keeps you up at night, you may consider taking over-the-counter pain medications such as Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen. However, make sure to consult with your doctor before taking any medication, especially if you have underlying medical conditions.

By following these tips, you can improve your sleep despite suffering from tennis elbow. Remember, getting adequate rest and sleep is crucial to your overall health and well-being. If your condition persists or worsens, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional.

Equipment to Help Sleep with Tennis Elbow

When suffering from tennis elbow, getting a good night’s sleep can be a challenge. The pain and discomfort can prevent you from getting comfortable and cause you to continuously wake up throughout the night. However, there are certain tools and equipment that can aid in providing the necessary support and comfort for a restful night’s sleep. Here are some equipment options to consider:

1. Arm Sleeves

Arm sleeves are a great addition to your sleeping routine when experiencing tennis elbow. They provide compression and support to the affected area, which can alleviate pain and promote better circulation. Most arm sleeves are made of breathable materials, such as spandex, to ensure maximum comfort. Choose a size that fits snugly but is not too tight, as this can cause further irritation.

2. Sleep Brace

If you have trouble keeping your arm in the right position while sleeping, a sleep brace can provide the necessary support. These braces wrap around your forearm and elbow, keeping your arm in a slight bend to reduce tension on the tendon. They are typically made of soft materials, such as foam or neoprene, and are adjustable to fit your arm perfectly.

3. Orthopedic Pillows

Using an orthopedic pillow can help reduce strain on your elbow while sleeping. These specially-designed pillows provide support to your head and neck, aligning your spine to reduce pressure on your arm. Orthopedic pillows come in various shapes and sizes, so choose one that provides the most comfort to you.

4. Ice Pack

Placing an ice pack on your elbow before sleeping can help relieve pain and inflammation. Wrap the ice pack in a towel or cloth and place it on the painful area for about 15 minutes. This can help reduce swelling and numb the area, making it easier to sleep. However, make sure that you do not apply ice for too long or too often as it can damage the tissue further.

5. Heat Therapy

If your tennis elbow is due to muscle tension, heat therapy can help relax the muscles and alleviate pain. Apply a heat pad or warm towel to your elbow before sleeping. However, do not use excessive heat as it can damage the tissue. A safe temperature range is between 104 and 113°F (40 and 45°C).

By using equipment and tools that provide the necessary support and comfort, you can achieve a restful night’s sleep despite tennis elbow. Consider these options to alleviate pain and promote better sleep.

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