Knee Pain While Sleeping

Written by in Sleep Health

Quick Overview

In this fast-paced world, it is not uncommon for people, young and old, to experience body aches. Our use of computers and office furniture are not typically ergonomically designed to support the body’s needs. Thus, people often end up experiencing backaches and joint pain, such as knee pain while sleeping. Aside from bad posture and sitting too long, falling, tripping, and other sudden injuries can also cause severe knee pain. In this article, we explore how, where, and why knee pain occurs.

What is Knee Pain?

To understand what causes knee pain while sleeping and its treatment, it is essential to know how, where, and why it happens.

The knee joint, the largest joint of the body, is made up of bones, ligaments, and cartilage. It acts as an interconnection to the femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap), and tibia (shin bone). The knee joint is specifically designed to withstand the weight and pressure and relies on the leg muscles for stability.

Chronic knee pain, also known as runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome, can be caused by several things, including health conditions such as osteoarthritis or a knee injury. The symptoms of knee pain after sleeping often affect the area between the kneecap and thigh bone (femur). The effects of knee pain at night also vary, depending on the cause. Knee pain at night may occur suddenly, regardless if there is a pre-existing health condition. Knee pain can also be chronic. In some cases, chronic pain can develop gradually and accompanied by inflammation and redness.

Common Causes of Knee Pain While Sleeping


Gout is an arthritic syndrome resulting from a build-up of uric acid crystals in the knee joint. These crystals gather in the soft tissue of the joint and can cause extreme nocturnal knee pain, inflammation, redness, and warmth. The symptoms of gout can emerge without any warning. Pain is often more excruciating at night. Gout can affect anyone.

Knee Osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis that is more common in seniors aged 50 years and older. Osteoarthritis occurs when the soft tissue found between the bones disintegrate, causing the bones to rub against each other resulting in chronic pain. Pain relief for this kind of severe knee pain while sleeping is limited, and the pain may worsen over time. However, unlike gout, knee osteoarthritis does not cause swelling or infection.

Knee Pain While Sleeping

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

RA is a form of autoimmune arthritis that causes a person’s immune system to attack healthy tissues in the body. It commonly affects the joints in the wrists and hands first, but the symptoms can also appear in the ankles, knees, and other joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause swelling, stiffness, and extreme knee pain after sleeping. The symptoms are often much worse in the morning.


Osteonecrosis, also known as bone death, is a type of leg and knee pain that is heightened at night or during exercise. It occurs when the bone loses blood flow and slowly dies. Osteonecrosis can happen to anyone but affects women more than men. Chronic pain from this condition can prevent patients from falling asleep or getting any sleep at all during the night.

Knee Bursitis

The cushion-like sac found in between the bones, tendons, and cartilage is also known as the bursa. It is responsible for the tendon’s’ ability to slide over the joint with ease. If the bursa is damaged, inflamed, or irritated, every movement of the joints can cause extreme knee pain. Knee bursitis can be caused by a knee injury, excessive kicking, and prolonged kneeling. It can also occur to the joints in the hips. This condition is called hip bursitis.

Chondromalacia Patella

Chondromalacia patella is a knee condition that commonly occurs in adolescent girls. It develops when the knee cartilage becomes so inflamed, it forcefully rubs against the back of the knee cap, causing severe knee pain while sleeping. Treatment for the condition includes anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy, such as stretching and gentle exercises. Any excessive physical activity, however, is highly discouraged as it can further aggravate the inflammation and pain.

Knee Dislocation

Dislocation of the knee, although rare, is considered to be a limb-threatening emergency. It occurs when the lower leg is completely detached from the upper leg through a sudden fall or a powerful blow to the knee joint. The displacement may also cause wear and tear to the ligaments in the knee, nerves, and arteries.

Infectious Arthritis

Infectious arthritis is an infection in a joint that has spread from another part of the body. It can be bacterial, viral, or fungal in origin. Pain can be extreme. Infectious arthritis can worsen if a person has a pre-existing health condition or is taking medications that prevent the immune system from treating the infection. This condition can cause joint pain, chills, fevers, and overall poor sleep hygiene. Treatment for the condition includes antibiotic medications and therapy.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial band, the fibrous ligament that stretches from the outer part of the pelvic bone to the exterior of the tibia, can rub violently against the femur when it is tight. This condition often occurs among runners and usually happens 10-15 minutes into a jog or a run. People who suffer from this condition can also experience knee pain while sleeping. Stretching and exercise can also prevent it from occurring, as well as NSAIDs.

How to Prevent Knee Pain at Night

Lose Weight

One method to treat knee pain at night while sleeping is to lose weight, thus eliminating additional pressure to the joint. The additional, unnecessary weight can cause extreme pressure on your knees, resulting in anterior knee pain. The best way to do this is a multi-prong approach, including a healthy diet and ample exercise.


Physical activity and losing weight go hand in hand. That is why it’s no surprise that active exercise is the next step in preventing knee pain when sleeping. Cardio and aerobic activities, including swimming, walking, cycling, and water aerobics, are good cardio exercises. If you already suffer from knee pain, focus on water exercises. Exercises also improve sleep, helps eliminate stress, and promotes good posture. Tai chi and yoga can also help you with pain management and improve your body’s overall balance. If you’re not certain what exercise is appropriate for your knee pain while sleeping, talk to your doctor or physical therapist.

Knee Pain While Sleeping

Good Sleep Position

Your sleep position can better or worsen your sleep position. If you sleep at an awkward angle, the result can cause knee pain at night while sleeping. Finding a good sleep position is an essential part of dealing with knee pain while sleeping because your body needs to gain restorative sleep to rebuild for the next day.

position for Knee Pain While Sleeping

Adjustable Bed

The Yaasa sleep system can be a game-changer in the world of pain management. Yaasa’s Adjustable bed frame allows you to place your body in a zero-gravity position, alleviating stress on your spine and all of your joints. This bed frame, coupled with Yaasa’s own hybrid mattress, can provide the rejuvenating sleep your body needs. The Yaasa mattress is constructed as a hybrid of pocketed coils and memory foam on top. The pocketed coil system allows ample support while the memory foam cushions tender joints, decreasing or eliminating knee pain while sleeping. Adjusting the bed is easy with its backlit wireless remote.

Furthermore, the Yaasa adjustable frame’s wall-sliding technology allows easy access to your nightstand regardless of how much the head of the bed is elevated. This decreases awkward stretching and muscle spasms. The frame also includes USB ports, so you don’t have to worry about tripping over cords.

The Yaasa One sleep system can relieve stress, produce quality sleep, improve physical health, and provide pain relief.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can sleeping position cause knee pain?

Yes, your sleeping position can cause knee pain if you sleep at an awkward angle. For back sleepers, your knees should be elevated at night for proper spinal alignment. For side sleepers, we recommend placing a pillow in between the knees.

What is the best sleeping position for knee pain?

The Zero Gravity position is highly recommended for anyone who has knee, back, or neck pain. By sleeping in this position, which elevates the knees, you will alleviate the stress on your spine and joints. Imagine waking up feeling refreshed rather than in pain!

What is best for knee pain relief?

There are many causes of knee pain and you should consult a doctor to determine a treatment plan. To prevent knee pain from occurring, consider losing weight if you are overweight. You should also get more exercise to prevent your joints from getting stiff and make sure you are sleeping in a supportive position at night.