Ways to stop clenching my fists while I sleep
January 13, 2018 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Every morning I wake up with my hands clenched into fists, which results in tired and sore hands. How can I train myself to stop doing that?

I had a really stressy 2017, but thankfully everything turned out okay. An artifact from that period is this hand-clenching thing.

Me: Female, 45, not pregnant. I consider myself a great sleeper - I fall asleep quickly, sleep deeply and wake up rested. No snoring/apnea/etc. I had a well visit physical with my doc in December. My blood panel came back normal for every measurement so I'm convinced this is something behavioral to solve and not an indicator of a larger problem.

Have you beaten the hand-clenching habit? How? Am I going to have to wear hockey gloves to bed?
posted by kimberussell to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Something that I've noticed makes me clench my jaws at night is lots of refined sugar and/or caffeine.
posted by aniola at 7:49 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

You might try using a pair of wrist braces/guards for a week or so. They alter the position of your hands just enough that clenching your fists/closing your hands is more difficult. They’re not as obtrusive as you might think. I’ve used them to prevent numbness in my hands from bending my hand under the pillow. Drug stores often have then in the same aisle as the arch supports.
posted by skye.dancer at 7:59 PM on January 13, 2018 [12 favorites]

I'd suggest magnesium - it is a muscle-relaxant with anti-anxiety qualities.

Go with magnesium citrate, my doctor told me it is much better absorbed by the body, and much less likely to cause diarrhea, than other forms of magnesium.

I like Swisse Ultiboost Magnesium, but any magnesium citrate will do. You can take up to 4 x 150 mg magnesium, but start with one tablet to see how it affects you.
posted by Murderbot at 8:12 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If guards aren't working, I have this weird trick...

Those tsum tsum dolls are about the right size and shape to grip in your hands. We use them when my wife is ill to help her hands to stop spasming (oh yes, super fun) and it works pretty well. The gloves might be what you ultimately need but a par of those dolls are about 4 bucks and freely available.
posted by ottergrrl at 8:14 PM on January 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Hold onto a handful of blanket and/or the edge of your pillow. I had to make myself do this a few years ago after I developed stenosing tenosynovitis (a.k.a. trigger finger) in one hand, which would leave me with an uncomfortably stuck finger in the morning if I let that hand clench all the way shut while sleeping. Holding onto a thing, rather than your hand itself, will help open up your grip and prevent the sort of cramping clenching you describe. My trigger finger did eventually heal and for the most part clear up, but it took several years. I think this approach helped!
posted by limeonaire at 8:15 PM on January 13, 2018

Best answer: You could try wearing cotton gloves with something sewn into the palms that you'll clench, which would be big enough to keep your grip loose- a cylindrical roll of fabric, a small plastic wiffle ball, a rolled up sock, whatever.

A possible side benefit: you could heavily moisturize your skin and cuticles before putting on the gloves- soft skin overnight!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:42 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I can also endorse the magnesium citrate approach. I have all kinds of spasms-muscle issues and the magnesium makes a big difference. You can also get a wrist brace that has a metal thing in it to keep you from moving your thumb, which might be enough to stop the whole clenching process.
posted by HotToddy at 9:20 PM on January 13, 2018

This used to be me. I’d wake up with deep marks and pain in my hands where my nails were digging in. I’m sure there were other factors but when I made an effort to fall asleep with my palms flat against the bed it seemed to stop. Sleeping with my arms curled in across my chest naturally made my hands ball into fists but laying flat seemed to actually had the effect of relaxing me a little. Maybe the way faking a smile makes you feel a little better?
posted by danny the boy at 10:29 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I know you said your blood panel came back normal, but are you taking any medications, and is it possible this is a side effect of one of them? I had a similar issue and one doctor thought it was a rare side effect of a medication I was taking.
posted by aka burlap at 10:34 PM on January 13, 2018

is it cold in your room? I'll clench my hands if they are chilly, but making sure they are tucked under the blanket helps me stop.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:59 AM on January 14, 2018

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