Last week we spoke about weird things that you wake up with. Things like headaches, aching and/or numb arms and hands, neck pains and so on. This week I would like to expand on some of the reasons for waking up with numb hands and arms. why would I want to do that? I mean, last week I nearly dedicated a half of the blog post to describing why you might wake up with numb hands, and now I want to do it again!? Am I crazy? Well no. Not yet anyway. I might very well go crazy soon. Especially if I keep on waking up with numb hands… But that has nothing to do with why I chose to write about this topic again. No sirree, don’t you dare think that I am that self centered! (Even though I might be…) But don’t tell anyone I said that.

Numbly I ask myself, why do I wake up with numb hands?

In last week’s blog post we spoke about Spinal Stenosis, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOC) and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Too my astonishment, these were just a few of the reasons why people wake up with numb or tingly hands. After writing that post, I was a bit concerned about the TOC, but fairly certain that I had neither one of the other symptoms. Sitting up straight in front of my computer (and in general) became a priority. But I still wake up with tingly hands. So now what?

Taking into consideration the fact that waking up repeatedly because your nerves shut down can cause permanent damage to your nervous system, you can’t really blame me for being a bit worried about my condition. So I decided to dig in and do some research. Without going to a doctor or spending a fortune on physiotherapy, I want to know what is wrong with me. Maybe this is not the best approach, and I do not recommend not going to the doctor, but when you are broke you have to make a plan, right?

A million and one reasons…

As you might know, doing a Google search for something as broad as “why do I wake up with numb hands” can give many results. In fact, Google gave me one million and sixty results in a staggering 0.71 seconds when I asked this question. Now I know all of you think that I am Superman, but no, I did not read all million articles. Sorry to disappoint you folks. I did not even read all of the results on the first page. But in those results, I saw a lot more reasons for waking up with numb hands than what I previously mentioned.

Woke up with numb hands this morning? Here is the good news; you might have had a small stroke.

The first article I opened this time said that I should not be so concerned. According to the author, a lot of people wake up with numb hands and it is nothing to stress about. (Exactly the opposite of what I wrote last week when I quoted Dr. Centeno). The author then continues to say that you should not worry about it, even though you might have had a stroke… Yup. When you wake up with tingly hands and arms, you might have had a stroke. Reassuring, isn’t it?

But okay, I have to admit that I am blowing it out of proportion. According to that specific author, one in seven people that suffer from stroke get it at night. The other six will have their stroke while they are awake. So the chances that your hands were numb this morning because you suffered a stroke is fairly remote. Nonetheless, it can happen.

You might be suffering type 2 diabetes.

Not really a much cheerier prospect than having suffered a stroke, is it? At least type 2 diabetes can be treated! The type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes can cause peripheral neuropathy, which is basically pain or numbness in the hands and feet. If you have diabetes in the family and you wake up with numb or tingly hands, it might not be such a bad idea to visit your medical practitioner. As I mentioned earlier, the fact that I can’t afford a doctor right now does not by any means make you exempt. If you think you might have diabetes, visit a doctor and let him or her do a proper checkup. If you do have type 2 diabetes you can still combat the symptoms with the right diet. Eating less carbs and less sugar will definitely improve the way you are feeling.

Similar to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, you might experience Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.

This is when the ulnar nerve, or funny bone nerve as it is sometimes called, gets stretched at the elbow. For those of you that are not physiology fundi’s, the ulnar nerve is one of the main nerves in the arm. It travels from the neck down to the hand and it is quote common for the nerve to get pinched behind the elbow aka Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. This pinching of the nerve can cause a tingling sensation and weakness in the hand. Sleeping with your elbows tucked in tight or beneath your body can oft times cause Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. Try to avoid sleeping like this and see if it helps.

How to avoid a certain sleeping posture that you’ve perfected over the past thirty years? Get an elbow splint or just an elbow protector. It will stop your arm from bending in all the way, and might stop the ulnar nerve from stretching out or pinching up.

Dietary preferences, eating disorders or allergies can cause numbness in the extremities upon waking up.

Macro view of the top of a drink with foam in a glass, British Columbia

Here is where it gets interesting. A deficiency in Vitamin B12 can be the cause of your (or most probably my) numb morning hands. What does this have to do with eating disorders or allergies? How does what you prefer to eat affect your Vitamin B12 uptake?

Well firstly, Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal products, so if you do not eat animal products and you wake up with numb hands, this might be the reason. It can also be that your body does not take up Vitamin B12 as well as it should. If you are suffering from gluten, soy or dairy allergies, it might very well be the cause of your problem. When a person has one, some or all of these allergies, eating the wrong thing will inflame the intestines. Taking up vitamins, or other nutrients for that matter, with an inflamed intestine is not easy.

Usually if you do not take up Vitamin B12 as you should, there are a bunch of other things you are also not ingesting properly. Look out for other symptoms, like feeling tired all day, muscle cramps and a short attention span. If you experience these types of symptoms on top of waking up with the tell-tale numb hands, your problem might be lying in your gut.

Bad posture is probably still the number one culprit.

Even though all of the above mentioned conditions could lead to waking up with numb hands, the experts still say that the most common reason for this condition is having a bad posture. If your shoulders are hunched and your head is extended in front of you, the chances are quote high that you will wake up with numb hands. For you, visiting a physiotherapist might be the best option.

I think I found my problem.

So after all of this research and writing, I think I found my main problem. I am lactose intolerant, but I love drinking milk and eating chocolate. This upsets and inflames my intestine, which in turn decreases the amount of Vitamin B12 in my system. I eat my fair share of animal products, but what does it help if I can’t ingest the necessary vitamins!? Therefore I must lay off the milk for now. If I feel a change in my waking hand strength over the following weeks, I will definitely let you know. If not, I might just take my hard earned money and visit a doctor.

And now, off to bed! May you awaken with hands that are strong enough to break bricks!