Psychologists and sleep experts believe our sleeping position reveals key aspects of our personality.
Taking this theory a step further, what we do with our hands during sleep is also believed to be subconsciously influenced by our nature.
Sleeping with hands behind the back or tucked under a pillow suggests you’re a guarded person who keeps your own counsel and could be considered secretive.
Crossing your hands over the chest is believed to signify perfectionism and is linked to being conflict-averse in your waking life.
Stretching the arms and letting the hands hang free is widely regarded as a sign of adventurousness and open-mindedness.
Placing the hands behind the head is the act of a deep thinker who questions what’s around them.
Sleeping with your hands in direct contact with your face is thought to be linked to a state of high emotion and sensitivity to your surroundings.
Sleeping on your hand could also be a matter of logistics. If you share a bed with a partner and space is at a premium, you may feel there’s nowhere else to put your hands.
Why Do I Fall Asleep on My Hand?
Falling asleep on your hands has the following explanations:
Feelings of Safety And Comfort
Feeling a human touch while we sleep releases oxytocin, the “happiness hormone,” and helps us relax. This is why many people find sleeping beside a partner easier and like to cuddle while in bed.
According to Frontiers in Psychology, touching the skin can also release oxytocin in smaller quantities.
This means that sleeping on your hand may be a form of self-soothing if you feel nervous or anxious at night, perhaps because you’re afraid of the dark.
Sleeping on your hand will never provide the same sensations of calming comfort that we may associate with the gentle touch of somebody else.
It may help you feel calm after a while when pressure from your head numbs the sensation in your hands.
Maintaining a reliable temperature is essential for a good night’s sleep. Depending on the temperature, resting your hand on your face overnight can enable you to warm up or stay cool.
If you sleep with an electric blanket or hot water bottle, you may reach a point where you no longer seek direct contact as you feel too hot.
By placing your hands on a hot water bottle, you can warm them and transfer the heat to your face. Even if you don’t have an additional heat source, touching your face may raise your temperature.
As per Sleep Medicine, the core temperature drops as the body prepares to rest, which is tempered by distal vasodilation. This means your hands will be warmer than the rest of your body.
The opposite can also be true. If you sleep beside an external wall, you may find that touching this cool surface makes your hand feel cold.
Applying this hand to your cheek reduces body temperature on a hot, balmy evening.
Hand And Wrist Pain
Regular pressure will ease some discomfort if you have hand or wrist pain, like a repetitive strain injury or an impact wound caused by playing a sport.
Occasionally, pressure is applied by compression bandages or comparable medical apparatus.
Some experts recommend removing these bandages at night as they can negatively impact circulation. Sleeping on your hand offers a form of compression.
This is inadvisable, as you may be placing more pressure than a compression bandage can offer or applying excessive weight to the wrong part of the body.
Sleeping on your hand can have repercussions, especially if you’re already nursing an injury.
Pillows are an essential, and sometimes underrated, component of gaining a good night’s sleep.
The perfect pillow must be soft enough to comfort your head and neck but firm enough to prevent your head from sinking too low into the bed.
If your pillow is soft enough to feel like you’re laying your head on a cloud, you may instinctively place a hand under your head to add more firmness to your resting position.
A firm pillow may feel so tough that it’s challenging to feel comfortable. If the bones in your hand feel more comfortable than your pillow, consider upgrading to a lower grade of firmness.
The material of your pillowcase may also encourage you to sleep on your hand.
If you find your pillow scratchy against your skin, too smooth to reliably support your head, or have allergies, using a hand will instinctively create a protective barrier.
Is it OK to Sleep on My Hand?
Priority should be given to a sleeping position that helps you feel calm, secure, and comfortable.
If sleeping with your hand under your head is the only way you think you can fall into a restful sleep, don’t immediately attempt to break the habit.
Sleeping on your hand can take a toll in the longer term, so ensure you’re aware of the risks. If you feel discomfort in your hands or limited movement, train yourself to sleep in a different position.
What Are The Effects of Sleeping on Your Hands?
After spending a night sleeping on your hands, whether by accident or design, take a moment to consider how you feel in the morning. If you have any ill effects, consider adjusting your sleep posture.
The most common issue you’ll experience when sleeping on your hands is numbness upon waking.
Pins and needles shouldn’t last long but can be problematic. You may be unable to switch off an alarm, take medication, or operate doors to leave the bedroom.
This numbness is caused by pressure on a nerve throughout the night, restricting blood flow to the hands. Once this pressure is relieved, you should feel the blood return and regain full usage.
If numbness in your hands lasts longer than a few minutes or is accompanied by a constant tingling sensation, you may have caused damage to a nerve. This may just be temporary.
Stiffness And Lack of Flexibility
Another warning sign of nerve damage in the hands is stiffness or a lack of flexibility in your fingers.
Something is amiss if you find that your fingers are curled inward and can’t be moved without force or you can’t move your fingers at all independently.
Check for swelling around your hands and wrists if you have these side effects. You may have contracted carpal tunnel syndrome due to excessive pressure on the nerve that links the hand to the forearm.
Pulled Muscles or Tendons
If you oversleep while lying with your head on your hand, you risk damage to muscles and tendons within the hand and wrist. If these become inflamed, you’ll experience pain, likely due to tendonitis.
Usually, tendon and muscle issues will eventually correct themselves with rest. You may need over-the-counter painkillers to manage discomfort during recovery, which could take several weeks.
In extreme cases of tendon damage, seek assistance from a physiotherapist. It’s unlikely that sleeping on your hand will provoke this need unless you ignore earlier warning signs of damage.
Aside from discomfort in the hands and wrists, sleeping on the hands can also cause skin problems.
Sleeping on your hand may shield your skin from a pillowcase, which can potentially cause and aggravate wrinkles, but it poses other problems.
Clasping a hand to your face while you doze prevents your skin from breathing. This increases the risk of acne or dry and oily skin. The more you touch your face overnight, the more skin oil you’ll spread.
If your hands are unclean when you get into bed, sleeping on your hands can spread bacteria to the face.
How Do I Stop Sleeping on My Hands?
If sleeping on your hand is causing problems, coach yourself out of this habit. Here’s how:
- Wrap your hands securely under the duvet or a blanket. This may initially feel restrictive, but with patience, you’ll adapt.
- Place a pillow or cushion over the hand you instinctively raise to your face.
- Clasp your hands together across your body while you sleep,
- Hold something soft and soothing, like a stuffed animal or soft, silky cushion that feels comforting to redirect the focus of your hands.
Sleeping on your hands isn’t an emergency or a significant issue that must be addressed.