The hand went to sleep at night


If the hand falls asleep at night, this represents a strong impairment for the person concerned. A hand that fell asleep at night - also known as Brachialgia paraethetica nocturna - often disturbs sleep and can be very uncomfortable. Especially if the symptoms occur frequently and repeatedly, it should be clarified whether the symptom is a disease. The reason for limbs falling asleep is that one or more nerves are pressed. If these are exposed to a certain pressure over a certain period of time, the hands fall asleep and can only be returned to normal by moving the hand and thus relieving the nerve. A common reason for this is what is known as carpal tunnel syndrome, especially when the hands fall asleep during the night.

If not just the hand but the entire arm is affected, read here: Poor falls asleep

The individual therapy depends on the cause of the symptom.Training in different sleeping habits, bandages and splints and, in special cases, surgical intervention are possible therapy options.


People who suffer from the hand falling asleep at night often wake up as a result. In addition to numbness of the hand, there may be tingling sensations in the fingers and pain in the hand. In many cases not only the hand but also parts of the arm is affected. As a rule, when the nerve is relieved, the symptoms improve after a few minutes, when the pressure has been removed from the nerve, but sometimes the abnormal sensations also last for a longer period of time.

Falling asleep of the hands at night is a common early symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome. In this case, depending on the degree of the disease, other symptoms can also occur; the hands often fall asleep during the day and during exercise. In the advanced stage, weakness or even breakdown of the thumb muscles (Atrophy) to be established.


A common accompanying symptom is pain. During the night these are sometimes so strong that those affected wake up and suffer from sleep problems. In many cases, the pain also radiates to the arm. The pain usually disappears after a short period of time and after relief, but waking up can make it very annoying and stressful.

The cause of the pain is a compressed nerve. This often happens through pressure from an awkward sleeping position. In the case of carpal tunnel syndrome, on the other hand, there is a swelling of the tendon sheaths in the carpal tunnel, which then compress the nerve (nervus medianus).

If the cause is an unfavorable sleeping position, it helps to change it and to get used to a different sleeping position. However, if it happens more often that one or both hands fall asleep at night, these complaints should not be ignored. It can be caused by various diseases such as carpal tunnel syndrome, which are usually easy to treat in the early stages. A herniated disc in the cervical spine can lead to similar symptoms and should therefore be ruled out.

If there is also pain in the elbow area, this is the most likely location. A nerve (ulnar nerve) that supplies the hand on the little finger side sensitively runs here, very superficially in a bone groove, also known as the "musician's bones". Due to this exposed location, the nerve can easily be compressed by pressure at night and then cause discomfort.


In addition to the pain, when the skin is asleep there is often an uncomfortable tingling sensation, as everyone knows from extremities that have fallen asleep. Some patients describe this as "pins and needles", which is the corresponding term in technical terms Paresthesia, This must be distinguished from numbness (Hypesthesia). This leads to a reduced sensitivity of the skin to sensory stimuli. The neurologist calls the hand or arm falling asleep at night with tingling and pain Brachialgia paraesthetica nocturna.
Similar to pain, these symptoms are caused by nerve compression. If the corresponding nerve is relieved of the pressure, the abnormal sensations quickly recede. This can sometimes be brought about by changing the position of the hand or arm.

You can find more information at: Tingling of the hand.


There are a number of different causes that can cause the hand to fall asleep at night. All causes have in common that there is ultimately pressure, one or more nerves in the hand or arm.
In particular, if the affected hand or arm is kinked or the affected person is lying on the hand or arm, such pressure can occur on a nerve. The same applies if the arm is pressed by the edge of the bed or a pillow. For this reason, people who sleep on their stomach and side often suffer from hands falling asleep during the night. Whether this cause is the trigger for the discomfort can be found out by trying to change the sleeping habits.
Another common cause is carpal tunnel syndrome. Here the so-called Median nervewhich sm wrist by the so-called Carpal tunnel runs, compressed in the area of ​​the wrist. Hands falling asleep during the night are a possible early symptom of the disease and should therefore be taken seriously. Different causes can lead to the development of a carpal tunnel syndrome, overload or inflammation in particular come into question here.

Read more about the topic here: Causes of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Can this be an indication of a deficiency?

A hand that has fallen asleep basically indicates a disorder of the corresponding nerves. It is known that a vitamin B12 deficiency in the context of polyneuropathy can lead to tingling sensations and many other symptoms, but these typically occur not only at night but also during the day. Often patients with a vitamin B12 deficiency also complain of numbness or burning pain in their hands and feet.
Vitamin B12 is important for the insulating layer of nerve fibers, the so-called myelin sheath. A deficiency in vitamin B12 that persists for several months therefore leads to a breakdown and thus damage to the myelin sheaths.
People who follow a vegan diet are particularly at risk of developing such a deficiency. At an early stage, this damage can be treated well by administering vitamin B12. If the vitamin B12 deficiency remains undetected for a longer period of time, irreversible nerve damage can occur. Therefore, if you have symptoms, you should see your doctor.

Read more about the topic here: Vitamin B12 deficiency

Can this also be an indication of a heart attack?

Usually a sleepy hand is not a typical symptom of a heart attack. However, a heart attack can present itself with numerous different symptoms, so that one can never really rule it out. Since a heart attack is a potentially life-threatening condition, you should consult a doctor if you have a really reasonable suspicion. This is especially the case if symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath occur. Then it is certainly advisable to call the emergency services. If a hand has fallen asleep without any further symptoms, this can also be observed first and, if necessary, consult the family doctor.

You might also be interested in: Signs of a heart attack


Since, in addition to many harmless causes, there can also be serious but treatable diseases behind hands falling asleep at night, if the symptoms occur frequently, a doctor should be consulted who can make an individual diagnosis and, if necessary, initiate therapy. The patient's medical history is indicative of the underlying cause. It is of particular interest here whether the symptoms only occur at night or also during the day and during exercise. It is also relevant whether other symptoms accompany the falling asleep hands. To find out whether it is a carpal tunnel syndrome, the nerve conduction velocity is often measured, which can be reduced if the disease is present, and changes are also observed in the ultrasound.

Which doctor is responsible?

In principle, the family doctor should be the first point of contact for minor complaints. As a general practitioner, after taking anamnesis and physical examination, he can usually already say whether it is more a neurological or an orthopedic problem, or whether something completely different is behind it. In less serious cases, he can treat the problem immediately. In special cases a referral to a neurologist or orthopedic surgeon may be necessary. A carpal tunnel can also be treated by a hand surgeon.


The therapy basically depends on the underlying cause of the symptoms. For example, a falling hand, which occurs due to sleeping habits, should be treated differently than a carpal tunnel syndrome.

If the hands fall asleep, which occurs due to local pressure during the night, it should first be found out in which sleeping position the symptoms occur. The position in which the body is when waking up at night can be an indication of the triggering position. For example, if the hands fall asleep whenever the person is sleeping on their stomach, attempts can be made to change their sleeping habits to prevent the symptom from occurring. It is also important to avoid sharp edges of the bed. Using a side sleeper pillow can help reduce the pressure on the arm when lying on your side.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated in different ways. The decisive factor is how advanced the disease is. In the case of mild symptoms, conservative therapy options such as the use of special splints or bandages as well as anti-inflammatory drugs (for example ibuprofen) can be treated initially. If these treatments are not sufficient, surgery can be considered. Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis. A doctor can best clarify which therapy is possible and which cause is responsible for the hands falling asleep in each individual case.


The prognosis for hands falling asleep at night depends on the underlying cause. Hands falling asleep, which occur due to sleeping habits, are harmless. In this case, the symptoms should go away completely by relieving the nerve. If carpal tunnel syndrome causes hands to fall asleep, the condition should be treated. If conservative therapy does not work, surgery must be considered. Therapy cannot completely eliminate the unpleasant symptoms in all cases. In some cases, paresthesia and pain occur even after surgical treatment of the affected nerve.


In order to prevent hands falling asleep during the night, the cause of the symptoms should be critically questioned. If only the sleeping position is responsible for the complaints, then individual sleeping habits should be worked on. To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, overstressing the hand and wrists should be avoided. Since inflammation also contributes to the development of the syndrome, it should always be treated appropriately.

Hands fell asleep during pregnancy

Towards the end of the second trimester of pregnancy (usually around the sixth month), most pregnant women experience slight swelling of the joints. This mostly affects the feet, but can also affect the wrists. This can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
The carpal tunnel is a channel on the wrist. The runs in it Median nervethat provides sensitive care to parts of the hand. If the carapal tunnel swells, pressure on the nerves occurs. This leads to numbness, tingling, and burning pain. It is very typical that these symptoms appear at night. If you change your sleeping position, the symptoms usually improve.
If the pain also occurs during the day, you can relieve the pain by shaking your hand. Daily stretching exercises for fingers and hands also help.
Symptoms usually go away after the birth. If they persist, it makes sense to see a neurosurgeon; if necessary, a small surgical procedure must be carried out to relieve the nerve.