Why Do My Hands Go Numb When Holding a Phone in Bed?
Mobile phone use has never been as high, with 85% of American citizens using a smartphone in 2023. Society has become so reliant of mobile technology that a backlash has long been established against improper use of smart devices. Many focus on the mental health issues which can occur when so much time is spent on the Internet. They encourage limiting the use of smart devices such as mobile phones to help us sleep better and avoid anxiety. However, other problems with the use of this technology exist. This includes physical pain such as headaches. Some even report feelings of numbness in the hands when holding a phone.
At oneHOWTO, we investigate the causes of these problems by asking why do my hands go numb when holding a phone in bed? We also discover what treatment options are available to stop this problem.
Why do my hands go numb when holding a phone?
An abnormal sensation of tingling or numbness is known as paresthesia. There are various causes which can give rise to this syndrome in humans. In the vast majority of cases, this is due to something temporary which should not cause any significant pain or damage to tissues.
Despite this, tingling and numbness in the extremities should not be ignored if it occurs excessively or over a long period of time. Ailments related to circulatory problems, arteriosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and others may be the root cause. If this symptom occurs with any frequency, it is best to seek the help of a qualified physician to diagnose the problem.
How this is related to mobile phone use is due to positioning in the hands. Since many of us use our phones for prolonged periods of time throughout the day, how we hold the phone can have serious repercussions. Both maintaining the same hand position and interacting with our fingers can be the cause of tingling. This is especially the case if we have been using the device more than usual.
It is the pressure generated by this maintained posture that ends up triggering the numbness of the hands. Using a mobile phone device usually requires us to hold the mobile with both hands and to repetitively move the thumbs. These actions compress the peripheral nerves, especially the one that runs along the inside of our forearm. This is the one that runs from the elbow to the wrist and it can give rise to temporary paresthesia in the hands.
The excessive and constant pressure on the nerves in the area can cause the hands to fall asleep with the mobile. This is very similar to certain people who require repetitive movements due to their work. This is a common problem in workers who spend many hours typing on the computer keyboard in an inappropriate body posture.
Learn more about proper mobile use with our article on whether it is bad to charge a mobile phone overnight.
Why do hands go numb holding a phone in bed?
Experiencing numbness or paresthesia in your hands when holding your phone in bed is likely related to your body position and the way you're holding your phone. The fact that we are in bed might be particularly conducive to pins and needles since our body posture changes. The following are some of the specific factors which might result in our hands going numb while using a mobile phone in bed:
- Posture: when you're lying in bed, your body might be in a position that is more likely to compress certain nerves or blood vessels in your arms and hands. Holding your phone for an extended period in a specific way can further contribute to this compression.
- Pressure on nerves: depending on how you're holding your phone, you might inadvertently put pressure on the nerves that run through your hands and wrists. For example, holding your phone tightly or bending your wrists at an awkward angle can compress the nerves and lead to numbness.
- Blood flow: especially when lying down in bed, certain can affect blood flow to your extremities. If your hands are positioned in a way that restricts blood flow, it can result in temporary numbness.
- Repetitive movements: if you're scrolling or typing on your phone for an extended period, the repetitive movements can strain your wrists and hands, contributing to numbness.
- Tight muscles: prolonged bed rest or lying down can lead to muscles in your neck, shoulders, and arms becoming tense or tight. This tension can compress nerves and lead to numbness.
- Phone size and weight: larger and heavier phones might require you to grip them more firmly, potentially increasing the pressure on your hands and wrists.
Types of injuries from mobile phone use
Long-term inappropriate use of a mobile phone can result in both negative psychological and physical consequences. When an arm or hand falls asleep due to a bad posture, it is not something which should cause concern on its own. When it occurs regularly and with increasing intensity is a sign the compression of the nerves may be causing more significant damage.
Among the most common injuries related to the use of mobile phones, we must highlight carpal tunnel syndrome. This is a condition produced by the pressure the position of holding the phone exerts on the median nerve. This nerve stretches along the palm of the hand. Consistent compression results in carpal tunnel syndrome, the symptoms of which include tingling, numbness and weakness in the hand and arm.
The gesture of typing with the fingers on the mobile has also led to an increase in cases of osteoarthritis of the thumb. This is something associated with people of an advanced age. However, some reports show concerns this condition may be increasingly affecting younger people a result of smartphone use.
Hands that fall asleep frequently could be warning of multiple ailments in the small joints and ligaments that form them. This can be a possible symptom of tendonitis in the hand or wrist, i.e. an inflammation of the tendons in this area.
The excessive use of the mobile is also related to other injuries of all kinds. These range from eye strain to a pain in the cervical neck area. It is also possible that the underlying cause of the numb hands when holding the phone in bed are not caused by the phone at all. It is merely that holding the phone exacerbates the symptoms.
Now we know why a mobile phone in bed can cause hand numbness, you may want to know whether it is a bad idea to sleep with a phone in the bed.
Treatment of hand numbness due to mobile phone use
The best way to keep your hands from falling asleep is by responsible use of your smartphone or device. Not spending excessive time holding the device and taking regular breaks away from the screen is particularly important. While so much of our lives are becoming increasingly dependent on mobile and smartphone use, it is best to see these devices as to be used only when necessary.
There are also some practical ways we can help avoid our hands going numb when holding a phone. The following are such treatment options:
- Slowly move all the fingers of the hand to reactivate the circulation in the area and massage one hand with the other. Do so by placing the thumb of one of them in the palm of the other and making circular movements while applying light pressure.
- Use a stress ball. Close your hand over the ball and squeeze gently with all your fingers. Open and close your hand several times to feel the benefit.
- Dip your hands in warm water while moving your fingers under the tap. Warm water will have a vasodilator effect and will promote blood circulation, reducing tingling. Do not use this technique if your have inflammation of the hands.
- Take care of your diet as nutrient deficiency can encourage problems which result in hand numbness. This is especially the case with B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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1. Mayo Clinic staff. (2022). Carpal tunnel syndrome. Retrieved from:
2. Canillas, F., Colino, A., & Menéndez, P. (2014). Cellular Phone Overuse as A Cause for Trapeziometacarpal Osteoarthritis: A Two Case Report. Journal of orthopaedic case reports, 4(4), 6–8. https://doi.org/10.13107/jocr.2250-0685.213