How to Sleep with Tennis Elbow

how to sleep with tennis elbow

Tennis elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition characterized by pain in the outer elbow, often caused by overuse or repetitive motion. For many, this pain can disrupt a peaceful night’s sleep. This article offers general information on achieving restful sleep despite the discomfort of tennis elbow. Consult your doctor for guidance related to your specific condition.

Table of Contents

Understanding Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow arises from inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow. While commonly associated with tennis players, it can affect anyone who engages in repetitive arm and wrist activities. Symptoms include pain and tenderness in the outer elbow, which can be exacerbated by gripping objects or shaking hands.

The Importance of Sleep in Healing

Sleep is a cornerstone of recovery. During our restful hours, the body undergoes various repair processes, healing damaged tissues and reducing inflammation. Moreover, a good night’s sleep can also help in managing pain more effectively.

man trying to sleep with tennis elbow

Choosing the Right Sleep Equipment

  • Mattress: A supportive mattress is crucial to ensure the entire body, including the affected arm, is properly aligned and free from unnecessary strain.
  • Pillows: Consider using pillows that can cradle and elevate the injured arm, reducing swelling and providing comfort.

Optimal Sleeping Positions

  • Back Sleeping: When lying on your back, keep the affected arm elevated on a pillow. This can help in reducing swelling and discomfort.
  • Opposite Side Sleeping: If you prefer sleeping on your side, lie on the unaffected side. Use a pillow to support the injured arm, keeping it elevated.
  • Positions to Avoid: Refrain from sleeping directly on the affected elbow or in any position that puts undue strain on it.

Pain Management Before Bed

  • Cold Compresses: Applying a cold pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes can help in reducing inflammation and providing a numbing effect.
  • Over-the-counter Pain Relievers: Medications like ibuprofen can help manage pain and reduce inflammation. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any medication.
  • Topical Pain Relief Creams: These can offer targeted relief. Apply as directed, ensuring it’s fully absorbed before going to bed.

Creating a Sleep-Conducive Environment

  • Ambiance: A dark, quiet, and cool room can significantly enhance sleep quality.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Engage in calming activities like deep breathing or meditation to prepare your body for sleep.
  • Noise Management: If you’re sensitive to noise, consider using a white noise machine or earplugs to block out potential disturbances.

Lifestyle Adjustments to Support Recovery

  • Tennis Elbow Brace or Strap: Wearing a brace can provide relief by reducing tension on the affected tendons. It’s especially beneficial during activities that might strain the elbow.
  • Gentle Exercises: Engage in stretches and exercises that strengthen the forearm without exacerbating the condition.
  • Activity Management: Until recovery, avoid activities that put repetitive strain on the affected elbow.

When to Seek Medical Advice

If your symptoms persist or intensify, it’s essential to consult a medical professional. They might recommend treatments like physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, or even shock wave therapy, depending on the severity of the condition.


Dealing with tennis elbow can be challenging, especially when it interferes with sleep. However, with the right strategies and a focus on comfort, restful nights are achievable. Remember to listen to your body, make necessary adjustments, and seek professional advice when needed.

Note: This article is intended for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of a medical professional regarding any health concerns.