Why Your Hands Go Numb at Night and 5 Ways to Prevent It

Ever wake up in the middle of the night and your hand is completely numb? You’re not alone. It happens to many people and can be pretty frustrating. You’re already groggy and now you have to shake out your hand to regain feeling (and trust me, this is not fun when you have to pee—which is probably the reason you woke up at all!).

Anyway, I digress. If you’re experiencing hand numbness at night, don’t ignore it. It could be a sign that you’re experiencing increased pressure on a nerve in your palm, which is a distinct early warning sign of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome occurs when there’s excessive pressure on your median nerve. This nerve runs the length of the arm and controls the movement and feeling of your thumb, as well as the movement of all your fingers (except the pinky).

The condition usually happens as a result of too much of the same motion in your hand and wrist (for example, typing on the computer if you have an office job). Sometimes Carpal Tunnel can happen due to conditions like hypothyroidism, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and even pregnancy.

Here are some ways to prevent Carpal Tunnel from persisting, and hopefully cure your nightly hand numbing:

  1. Take breaks from the computer

    One of the most common causes of developing Carpal Tunnel is sitting and typing on a computer too long. If this could be a culprit for you, try taking mini-breaks to stretch out your wrists every few hours. If you need it, set a timer to remind you to do so.

  2. Straighten out your wrists

    Take a look at your wrists when you’re typing away—are they bent slightly or are they straight? Wrist posture, such as overextending the wrist, may be a risk factor for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, according to a study published in the journal Safety and Health at Work. If you’re noticing this is a common problem, try adjusting your chair so your wrists and arms are straight, or invest in an adjustable keyboard.

  3. Rotate and stretch it out

    Sometimes movement is the best medicine. Try frequently stretching, bending, and flexing your wrists often. This should help stretch the muscles surrounding the wrists and help the tendons that pass through the carpal tunnel stay healthy.

  4. Avoid sleeping on your hands

    A big cause of numbness, sleeping with pressure on your hands and wrists can cause them to go weak more often and persist longer. Try new sleeping positions out, preferably on your back, or stomach with your arms stretched out around your waist (not under your pillow).

  5. Wear a wrist splint

    If all else fails, your doctor might suggest trying out a wrist split, at least for activities like typing or any repetitive activity involving the use of your hands that could be causing the pain. You can find these over-the-counter at most drugstores or pharmacies. It should fit snugly, but not too tight, around your hands and wrist. Try it out for a few nights and see how you feel.

Have you ever had your hands go numb at night? What did you do to try to prevent this?