What It Really Means When You Wake Up With Numb Hands

Waking up with one or both of your hands still "asleep" can be unsettling, to say the least. If you've slept too long in one position and cut off circulation to your hands, they may feel tingly or numb in the morning when you wake up. While this usually goes away as you begin to move around and blood flows back into the hands, it might happen more often than you'd like and last longer than usual. If that's the case, it could be a sign that something more serious is going on.

In some cases, other neurological symptoms may be present as well (via LiveStrong). According to neurologist Dr. Nitin Butala, you should contact a medical provider right away if you're waking up with numb hands and experiencing numbness that lasts long into the day. This is especially necessary if you also experience numbness that spreads throughout the body, muscle weakness, clumsiness in the fingers or hands, sudden weakness or dizziness, leg and arm pain that doesn't go away, or other new neurological symptoms, such as changes in vision or muscle twitches.

What could be causing your numb hands in the morning

Numb hands in the morning might not be a sign of a neurological emergency, but they still might indicate something more than just sleeping funny. For one, carpal tunnel syndrome may be to blame (via LiveStrong). This happens when the nerve in the carpal tunnel is compressed, leading to numbness, tingling, and sometimes weakness in the fingers. It's usually caused by repetitive movements of the wrist that put pressure on the nerve, such as typing or using a computer mouse. Numbness could also be due to other types of nerve compression and damage. The ulnar nerve and radial nerve are other nerves that are often affected while sleeping, especially on your side.

Another condition that could cause numbness in the hands is cervical spondylosis, which is when the spinal disks in the neck experience wear and tear due to aging (via Mayo Clinic). Symptoms include pain and stiffness in the neck, lack of coordination, and numbness in the arms, hands, legs, or feet. While rare, thoracic outlet syndrome could be another reason for numb hands (via Mayo Clinic). It usually occurs after whiplash or neck trauma and is caused by the compression of blood vessels and nerves between your first rib and collarbone.

Numbness in the hands can also indicate an underlying condition (via LiveStrong). Diabetes can increase your risk of nerve damage, and inflammatory conditions can inflame the tissues surrounding the tendons and nerves in the wrist.