Sleep is supposed to be the time your body unwinds, relaxes, and gets a few hours of peaceful bliss. It’s when you recover from all the tiresome troubles of the day. And as you’re well aware, not getting enough sleep can have some negative effects on your health and mood.
Whether you’re having trouble falling asleep or keep waking up with pain in your hips, it’s an inconvenience that can ruin your whole day. Usually, you can relieve hip pain by simply changing your sleep position, but sometimes you need to look for other solutions.
Lucky for you, I know all about sleep-related hip pain, and I know how how to deal with it. Let’s take a closer look at what causes hip pain while sleeping and how you can relieve it.
What Causes Hip Pain While Sleeping?
While hip pain can have major effects on your sleep quality, it’s easier to handle once you’ve identified what’s causing it. Luckily, there aren’t that many causes of hip pain.
Here are the most common ones to look for.
- How You Sleep
Right off the bat, the first thing you should check is how you sleep at night. That includes your sleep position and anything that can affect your sleep quality like your mattress and pillows. Making minor tweaks to your bed and your sleep habits can go a long way in relieving hip pain.
Your mattress could easily be the culprit behind your hip pain. If it’s too hard, it might be hitting certain pressure points on your body causing the pain.
If your mattress is too soft, it could prevent your spine from being comfortably aligned, resulting in added pressure on one of your hips. Where does that leave you? With bedtime hip pain.
Finding the “Goldilocks” mattress with the right firmness for you could be the first step in relieving your hip pain while sleeping.
Your Sleep Position
Most people who suffer from hip pain at night tend to be side sleepers. This can cause unilateral (one-sided) pain or bilateral (double-sided) pain in the hips.
The first thing you can try to relieve the pain is to sleep on your back. This takes a lot of pressure off of the hips and minimizes the chances of triggering pressure points as you sleep.
If you’re only comfortable sleeping on your side, you can try putting a pillow between your knees. This improves the alignment of your hips and takes some of the weight off of them, relieving your nighttime pain.
- Sciatic-piriformis Syndrome
There’s this huge nerve that runs through your lower back, hips, and legs called the sciatic nerve. When something happens to irritate or injure this nerve, you end up with numb, tingling pain in those areas, especially your hips. This is called sciatic-piriformis syndrome.
Sciatic pain could keep you from sleeping at night.
One of the underlying causes of hip pain while sleeping is bursitis. It sounds like a complicated condition but it’s actually pretty simple.
Let’s break it down to its Latin origins: “itis”, which means inflammation, and “bursae”, which are small sacs of fluid around your hip bone. They simply act as cushions.
When these bursae are inflamed, they don’t do that well of a job cushioning your hip joints as you sleep. The result? Nighttime hip pain!
So, how do you know if you have bursitis? The symptoms are easy to catch; just focus on the pain.
Symptoms of Bursitis
- Pain originating in the outer hip and upper thigh areas
- Sharp, shooting pain that pops up suddenly, then recedes into a dull ache, especially when you touch your hips
- Getting up quickly, climbing, walking too much, or squatting can all trigger the pain
- Hip pain while sleeping but not while standing
- Hip Tendonitis
There’s that “itis” suffix again, remember it? This time, it could be the tendons around your hip bone that are inflamed causing what’s known as hip tendonitis. This could easily result in hip pain while sleeping.
It’s common with athletes who go through a lot of hip-dependent movements like swimming, cycling, and running.
Look for easy-to-spot symptoms like tight muscles, dull pain in the groin area, and pain from the slightest actions like climbing stairs or standing up quickly.
- Hip Arthritis
Just one more “itis” to look for. This time, the inflammation could be in your joints, specifically the hip joint. While hip osteoarthritis is the most common one, pretty much any kind of arthritis can cause hip pain including rheumatoid, psoriatic, and septic arthritis.
If you suspect your hip pain while sleeping is caused by hip arthritis, here are a few symptoms to look for.
- Pain in the groin, buttocks, hip, thigh, or knee
- Pain that increases in the morning, when it’s cold, or when you get up quickly
- Pain bending over
- You hear a grinding or cracking sound when you move, also known as crepitus
As you get closer to the third trimester, your baby starts getting heavier. The added weight load can cause pressure on your hips leading to hip pain while sleeping.
One thing you can do to relieve nighttime hip pain is place a pillow behind your back to lean on, taking weight off of your hips. This is great for expecting mothers who are side sleepers. You can also opt for a pregnancy pillow.
During the day, try wearing supportive shoes that’ll keep you light on your feet. Stretch whenever you get the chance and when it comes time to sleep, you’ll notice a difference in the hip pain.
How to Manage Nighttime Hip Pain
There are several things you can do to relieve hip pain while sleeping. Some are quick fixes, while others can help prevent the recurrence of pain.
If you find yourself constantly waking up in the middle of the night with pain in your hips, you can try some of these quick, get-back-to-sleep fixes.
- Mix up your sleeping position. Don’t let your body get used to one position. Instead, try alternating between back and side sleeping so the pressure constantly shifts.
- Get a wedge pillow and place it under your hip. It acts as a triangle-shaped cushion that takes some of the weight off of your hip. You could also make an improvised wedge with a blanket or pillow.
- Keep a pillow under or between your knees, whichever feels more comfortable. This can help with pain caused by some of those “itis” conditions.
- Try some over-the-counter NSAIDs, which are anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as naproxen and ibuprofen. They can reduce swelling that might be causing hip pain.
- Ice packs wrapped in a towel could help reduce pain caused by swelling while heated pads are great for arthritis-related hip pain.
If your nighttime hip pain becomes a recurring thing, you might want to start looking for more permanent, long-term solutions. Consider talking to your doctor about treating the underlying cause(s) of the hip pain.
It could be one of the conditions mentioned like bursitis, which is treatable. You might also need a steroid injection to help calm the inflammation in your hips causing the pain. Some physicians prefer giving a hyaluronic acid injection to keep the hip joint well-lubricated and friction-free.
One great, long-term idea to relieve hip pain while sleeping is to get frequent massages. It can help soothe your body and mind for a good night’s sleep.
You can also discuss the option of physical therapy with your physician. It can improve the flexibility and strength of the tendons, muscles, and soft tissues surrounding your hip bone resulting in better pain relief.
What Habits Can Prevent Hip Pain While Sleeping?
There are a few daily habits you can adopt that can prevent nighttime hip pain.
Light exercise that doesn’t involve repetitive hip movements can help prevent hip pain while sleeping. Give yoga or tai chi a try, it could do wonders for your hip flexibility and relieve some tension from the muscles surrounding your hips.
Try to stay moderately active instead of staying in your seat all day. This improves the blood flow to your hips which minimizes the risk of nighttime pain.
Running a warm bath a couple of hours before going to bed can do wonders for your hip pain. First of all, it causes your body to flush with natural painkillers called endorphins, which makes you less likely to experience hip pain while sleeping.
Second, warm water can have a soothing effect on tight muscles, which is especially beneficial for people with sciatica-related hip pain.
Is hip pain while sleeping the worst? Yes, but is it manageable? Absolutely!
By taking a closer look at what might be causing your hip pain as you’re sleeping, you can start on your much-needed path to relief.
You might have an underlying condition that needs to be treated or you might simply be sleeping in an unfavorable position.
A pillow between the knees can go a long way in relieving some pressure off of your hips while sleeping. Over-the-counter painkillers are also a great quick fix. don’t forget to throw in a few good habits like warm baths before bed and stretching and light exercise throughout the day.
Try some of these nighttime hip pain cures so you can finally catch some well-deserved Z’s.
- I Can’t Sleep Without My Partner – How to Deal With It? - March 11, 2023
- Why Does Sleeping Feel So Good? - March 10, 2023
- Broken Sleep: What Is It, and What Does It Mean? - February 28, 2023