Many of us have woken up at one time or another to find that our arm (or sometimes our leg) has fallen asleep, leading to uncomfortable feelings of tingling and numbness as the arm gets back to normal. While it can happen when you’re awake too, you’ll normally notice that you’re losing feeling in your arm and will move it before it falls asleep fully — for this reason, it tends to be more prevalent when we’re sleeping, and our arm has the opportunity to stay in the same position for quite a while (via WebMD).
Often described as “pins-and-needles”, it’s also called paresthesia, and it’s usually solved — at least there and then — by moving and readjusting the arm that you’re experiencing the sensation in (via Healthline). A pretty common belief is that when your arm falls asleep, it’s down to a loss of blood flow, and certainly you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s always the cause.
There are a few potential reasons as to why your arm might fall asleep, so we’ve outlined them here. Here’s what it really means when your arm falls asleep.
There are a few potential causes
Most of the time arms will fall asleep due to a nerve being compressed or pinched, but can also be because you’re stopping blood from flowing to your nerves as usual. There are a few different potential causes of a pinched nerve. They range from overuse to your tendons or muscles putting too much pressure on the nerve, while it can also indicate other health conditions, such as arthritis. It’s often worth just taking it easy for a little while, and perhaps taking some over-the-counter painkillers in the meantime if you’ve got a pinched nerve (via WebMD).
Something else your arm falling asleep could indicate are damaged nerves. Nerve damage — or peripheral neuropathy — is more likely with certain conditions, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes and some kidney conditions (via Verywell Health). Tingling and numbness aren’t the only symptoms of peripheral neuropathy (via Healthline), but if you’re concerned, you might want to speak to your doctor. Diabetes is one of the most common causes, but age and weight can also be factors, and even some vitamin deficiencies can contribute to nerve pain and damage.
Most of the time, your arm falling asleep just means that you’ve slept on it a little funny, but sometimes it can be a sign of something more serious, in which case it makes sense to speak to a professional.
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