Hip Pain at Night: What Causes It and How to Relieve Pain?

Midsection of senior male patient sitting with hand on hip suffering from hip pain

Hip pain at night can make it hard to fall asleep, or it can wake you up during sleep. It is true that a lot of people don’t move much when they sleep, so their joints can swell and get stiff, but there could be other reasons for your hip pain at night.


There are some obvious causes of hip pain at night; however, there are also cases where the pain can be linked to an underlying health issue. As it turns out, hip pain is one of the most common types of pain suffered by people around the world.

What Are the Causes of Hip Pain at Night?

What causes hip pain at night? Hip pain is the result of conditions affecting the joints, muscles, and surrounding tissues. The gluteal muscles, which are the muscles around the buttock, can cause the front of the hip to overcompensate to stabilize the rest of the joint.

What generally happens is that the tendons that attach the gluteal muscles to the hip become squished, which leads to the pain. This is called greater trochanteric pain syndrome or GTPS. Other causes include sports injuries, sleeping positions, as well as specific underlying health issues such as arthritis. Below is a list of the most common hip pain at night causes.

  • Bursitis: This happens when bursae, the small fluid-filled sacs that help reduce friction at the hip joint, become inflamed. This pain tends to spread from the hip down to the side of the thigh. While pain is experienced during the day, it is usually worse at night.
  • Sleeping position: The way you’re sleeping or your mattress could be to blame for your pain. When a mattress is too soft or too hard, it can trigger pressure points in the body, including in the hip area. Additionally, sleep posture can lead to hip pain. If you are a side sleeper and have hip pain, try sleeping on your back. You can also try putting a pillow between your knees to keep your hips aligned.
  • Osteoarthritis: Hip osteoarthritis is due to age-related wear and tear of the cartilage that surrounds bone. As a result, bones rub against each other, leading to pain, inflammation, and swelling. The hip pain can move to the buttocks and down the leg. Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and septic arthritis can also cause hip pain at night.
  • Hip tendonitis: When the tendon in the hip is inflamed, you can have tendonitis. With this condition, you will likely experience a dull ache in the groin when you climb stairs or stand up. You may also feel pain in your buttocks.
  • Sciatic-piriformis syndrome: This is a tingling and numbness that runs from the lower back to the buttocks and even down the leg and into the foot. Throbbing pain with sciatic-piriformis can wake you from sleep.

How to Get Rid of Hip Pain at Night

Hip pain at night while sleeping can be frustrating because it sets the tone for the following day. Lack of sleep impacts a person’s energy level and ability to concentrate throughout the day.

When you are thinking about how to relieve hip pain at night, you have to take into account sleep routines, exercise, as well as other lifestyle adjustments. Review the list below for hip pain relief and if you don’t have any success, see your doctor to discuss pain management.

  • Sleep position: Sometimes just changing your sleep position can improve hip pain. Many sufferers find that lying flat on their back is better because it puts less compression on the hips. You can also try lying on your side with a pillow placed between your legs so that your legs are parallel and support the hips, pelvis, and spine. A foam topper for your mattress can improve support and help distribute weight more evenly, lowering pressure on the hips.
  • Mattress selection: A mattress is your foundation and research shows that a firm mattress provides more stability. A foam topper for your mattress can further improve support and help distribute weight more evenly, lowering pressure on the hips. It is best to avoid mattresses that have internal metal springs since they tend to create pressure points. You can discuss what kind of mattress is best with an orthopedic specialist.
  • Sleep schedule: Pain or no pain, sleep experts suggest that it is important to maintain a healthy sleep schedule to maximize rest. This means going to bed at the same time each day and getting up at the same time.
  • Room environment: It can be helpful to make sure your room is comfortable. For instance, is it quiet? Cool? Dark?
  • Pre-bedtime: Relaxing in the evening a few hours before you go to bed can ease the pain and get you ready for a good night’s sleep. Some people take a warm shower or bath; others listen to music or read a book. Avoiding caffeine and turning off electronic devices can also be helpful.
  • Ice: It can be comforting to ice your hip before going to bed. Sometimes, people find that pain is the result of swelling so an ice pack on the hip for 20 minutes before going to bed is a good approach.
  • Exercise: Doing regular low-impact exercise on a regular basis can minimize discomfort in the long run. When the body is inactive, it can reduce the joint’s range of motion, as well as increase pain and stiffness. Walking or swimming are great examples of low-impact exercise but check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to exercise your hip.
  • Massage: Hip pain can be the result of tight muscles around the joint so having a few massage sessions just might relieve some of that pain. A lot of people find that it takes between three to five sessions to feel any difference.
  • Rest: When you are not doing low-impact exercises, you should rest the joint. You don’t want to overdo it. Some people do take over-the-counter pain relievers to help them get through the difficult pain periods.
  • Medications: There are cases where doctors will prescribe medications for severe pain or offer patients injections that can reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Surgery: Although the last resort, there are some hip pain sufferers who are candidates for arthroscopic surgery. This is a non-invasive approach that enables a surgeon to look at your joint and repair any damaged cartilage.

There are many sleep aids on the market, but avoiding them is best. They can have side effects and some are habit-forming, which means you’ll need a higher dosage over time and may have a hard time falling asleep without them.

When to See a Doctor


Hip pain can be mild and a bit of a nuisance or it can be severe and debilitating. If you experience hip pain regularly and it keeps you awake at night, then you should see a doctor. While it is rare for hip pain to be an emergency, under the following conditions, you should go to an urgent care facility or emergency department:

  • The joint looks deformed
  • You can’t move the hip or leg
  • You can’t put any weight on the leg with the hip pain
  • There is intense pain or sudden swelling in your hip
  • You experience fever, chills, redness, or any other sign of an infection

When you have any kind of ailment that causes pain and you aren’t getting enough sleep, it can make the pain worse. It’s important to work with your healthcare provider to come up with a suitable treatment plan. Remember, hip pain management can be a matter of a simple lifestyle adjustment that will get you feeling better and sleeping well again.

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.



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