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Waking Up With Numb Hands: Causes and Treatment

Dr Brutus - September 14, 2021

Waking up with numb hands can be alarming, but if it is your only symptom, there is likely an easily treatable explanation. The hands are filled with numerous nerve tunnels that can be damaged by a number of conditions.

It is important to quickly identify the correct affliction to get proper treatment in order to prevent permanent nerve damage.

Keep reading to learn more about the various conditions that may be causing you to wake with numbness, how you can treat them, and when you should see your physician.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common condition that when diagnosed early, is easily treated. CTS is when the median nerve, which runs through the hand and wrist, becomes compressed due to inflammation.

Carpal Tunnel may be caused by a variety of factors such as repetitive movements, genetics, diet and lifestyle, etc. While physicians do not know what exactly causes carpal tunnel, they do know that waking in the middle of the night with numbness may be an early sign of the condition. Weakness and loss of grip strength in the affected hand is also common with numbness.

Sleeping Posture

If you find yourself sleeping on your arm you may be putting extra pressure on your hand. The decreased blood flow to the hand can cause temporary numbness in the hand. Sleeping with the wrist bent can also cause numbness. Changing your sleeping position should be enough to alleviate the numbness in this circumstance.


Diabetes occurs when the body cannot make and process insulin properly. This leads to high blood sugar levels which in turn, can cause a variety of other symptoms including nerve damage and numbness.

Vitamin B-12 Deficiency

Vitamin B-12 is an essential vitamin which provides nourishment to all the different parts of the body. It helps your brain and central nervous system function, creates red blood cells, and allows for DNA synthesis.

If you are vitamin B-12 deficient, there could be a variety of reasons for it. It could be due to your diet, genetics, or even certain medical conditions. Regardless of the cause, vitamin B-12 deficiency may be coupled with decreased appetite or muscle weakness in addition to numbness.

Other Causes

In addition to the above conditions, there are numerous other reasons you may be experiencing numbness in your hands at night:

  • Alcohol Abuse:

    • Those who suffer from alcoholism may suffer from nerve damage. Not only may they have tissue damage, but they may be deficient in certain vitamins, have muscle weakness or spasms, and have sexual dysfunction.
  • Chemotherapy or other medication:

    • Chemotherapy and other intense medications can cause peripheral nerve damage. These include certain blood-pressure medications and antibiotics.
  • Hypothyroidism

  • Shingles

  • Lyme disease

  • Arthritis:

    • Arthritis is characterized by the swelling of joints. Just like carpal tunnel, it can be caused by a variety of factors including repetitive motions, genetics, etc. The swelling of the joint can in turn place pressure on the nerves or reduce blood flow, both of which can cause numbness.
  • Other neurological condition:

    • Conditions such as MS can lead to numbness in the hand. Even if the condition is undiagnosed, patients will likely be experiencing other symptoms than just numbness in the hand.
  • Cyst:

    • A cyst is a noncancerous lump. It is possible for them to grow in the hand which in turn may put pressure on certain nerves or nerve tunnels. They can also interfere with overall movement.

When to See a Doctor

It is important to pay attention to two factors when deciding if you should see your doctor: what your symptoms are and how long they have been going on for. If you are waking up with numbness that resolves on its own, you are likely okay.

However, numbness that lasts longer than two weeks, or continually worsens over that time frame, could be a sign of something else going on. If you are experiencing other symptoms, even if it seems unrelated to the numbness, keep note of it for your doctor.

Giving your doctor as much information as possible will allow them to give you a proper diagnosis more quickly. Without proper diagnosis, your condition will worsen and you could end up with permanent nerve damage.

Treatment Options

If you’re waking up with numb hands there are ways you can treat it at home before going to see your doctor. It’s important to note that if these options don’t work, it may be another sign you should consult your physician:

  • Wear a wrist splint:

    • Sleeping with a splint holds your hand and wrist in an optimal, neutral position. This will help prevent the nerves from being compressed.
  • Drink more water:

    • Proper hydration can help prevent numbness
  • Take an anti-inflammatory before bed:

    • Taking Advil, Ibuprofen, etc. especially if it is the PM version will help you to sleep better and decrease inflammation. This option is not meant to be used daily, but rather on an as-needed basis.

Final Thoughts

Numbness in the hand, when the only symptom, is normally not something to worry about. However, you should not neglect the symptom if it persists and/ or worsens. If there is a more severe condition which is causing the numbness, early diagnosis and treatment are vital to prevent irreversible nerve damage.

Permanent nerve damage cannot be fixed even with surgery, which is why it is always better to err on the side of caution and consult your doctor. Be sure to take inventory of any medications and supplements you take daily, as well as all your symptoms. Having all the proper information will lead to a quicker diagnosis.

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