My Ear Hurt When I Sleep On It

My Ear Hurt When I Sleep On It

Posted by Dr. Cannon on Aug 21st 2022

If your ear hurt after sleep, chances are you are either sleeping on one side for too long, you have a rigid pillow, or there is an underlying ear ailment.

If you don’t have any ear ailment and still your ears hurt after sleep, you may need to look into it closely to spot the problem.

Some people have fragile ears and they get ear pain even with little pressure. If you happened to be like that, and you are a side sleeper too, chances are your ears hurt when you sleep on it.

There are four possible reasons for ear pain after sleep.

  • You sleep on one side for too long
  • You have a rigid pillow that hurts your ears
  • You have friable, elastic ear cartilage
  • You have an underlying ear ailment

We will look into each of these reasons and see how you can get rid of the ear pain after sleep.

Why Does My Ear Hurt When I Sleep On It?

Sleeping on One Side for too Long

Side sleepers are at a higher risk of getting ear pain as they might sleep on either side for the whole night.

Sometime, when we are tired, we may not turn sides frequently. When our ear is getting squeezed under the weight of our head for long hours, the outer ear muscles may crumble and cause ear pain.

This type of ear pain goes away after some time. If it doesn’t, consult an ENT and see why your outer ear is not healing on its own.

In rare cases, you may need to use pain killer medicine for this ear pain.

Rigid Pillow

A rigid pillow puts unnecessary pressure on your ear.

Your outer ear muscles are soft. They keep aching after a single hard touch.

A rigid pillow below your ear and the weight of your head over it squeezes your ears. Your outer ear muscles crush and cause ear pain.

Pillow witha hole

Pillow with a Hole

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Pillow with a Hole

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The solution is to replace your pillow with a soft pillow maybe a  pillow with a hole for a few nights and see if the ear pain disappears. If this works, it's great; if not, consult your doctor to see if you have any ear ailment causing this ear pain.

Try  SleepEasy Cotton Comfort Pillow for a few nights to get rid of rigid pillow ear pain. 

Pillow with a hole

Friable Ear Cartilage Pain

Friable ear cartilage makes your ear supple and prone to pain.

Ear cartilage is what we mean when we say ears. Friable ear cartilage gets hurt if you are using a hard pillow or you are a side sleeper and a sound sleeper.

If we feel sharp pain and swelling in the ear at the night, turn sides and see if the pain and swelling go.

Consider consulting your doctor if the  ear cartilage pain stays for days. You may need professional medical advice and treatment in some cases.

Underlying Ear Ailment

Maybe you have an underlying ear ailment that causes ear pain in the morning.

When you have an ear problem i.e ear piercings, a solution like sleeping on the other side or using a soft pillow may not work, you can think of a  ear piercing pillow or some trusted and medicated ear pillows. You will need to treat your underlying ear condition first.

Many ear problems disturb sleep and your doctor can diagnose the disease and advice a suitable treatment.

If changing your pillow or not sleeping on one side for long is not helping, consult your doctor to heal the underlying ear problem. 

Preventing Ear Pain While Sleeping on Your Side

  • Optimal Pillow Support:Choose a supportive but soft pillow that maintains proper alignment, reducing the likelihood of ear pressure and discomfort.
  • Regular Pillow Replacement: Replace pillows regularly to ensure they maintain their shape and support, preventing the development of uneven surfaces that may contribute to ear pain.
  • Sleeping Position Awareness: Train yourself to be conscious of your sleeping position. If you tend to favor one side, make a conscious effort to switch sides throughout the night to avoid prolonged pressure on a single ear.
  • Ear-Friendly Sleep Accessories: Invest in ear-friendly accessories like specially designed ear cushions or soft silicone earplugs to provide a protective barrier and minimize friction during sleep.
  • Regular Ear Care: Maintain good ear hygiene to prevent conditions like ear infections or wax buildup that can exacerbate pain. Keep ears dry and clean.
  • Gentle Ear Massage: Incorporate a gentle massage routine around the ears to promote relaxation and improve blood circulation, potentially reducing the likelihood of pain.
  • Temperature Control: Ensure a comfortable sleep environment by regulating room temperature. Extreme temperatures can impact blood flow, affecting ear sensitivity.
  • Consultation with a Specialist: If you experience persistent or severe ear pain, consult with an ear specialist for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized preventive strategies.

By adopting these proactive measures, you can significantly reduce the chances of experiencing ear pain while sleeping on your side.

Strategies to Relieve Ear Pain While Sleeping on Your Side:

  • Pillow Selection: Choose a pillow with a softer and more pliable material to minimize pressure on the ear. Memory foam or down pillows can be good options.
  • Sleeping Position: Experiment with sleeping on the opposite side or even on your back to distribute weight more evenly and reduce direct pressure on the ear.
  • Ear Protection: Consider using a soft earplug or a specially designed ear cushion to create a protective barrier between your ear and the pillow, preventing friction and discomfort.
  • Warm Compress: Apply a warm compress to the affected ear before bedtime. This can help relax the muscles, improve blood circulation, and alleviate any tension contributing to the pain.
  • Consult a Professional: If the ear pain persists or worsens, it's advisable to seek advice from a healthcare professional or an ear specialist. They can assess the specific cause of your ear pain and provide tailored recommendations or treatments.