Sleeping position

I would love to sleep on my left side with left arm rised and under the pillow. Its my natural position, and the most comfortable. However, I had to have a cable  replaced due to unknown malfunction a year ago, and since then I've not dared to rise my arm above my head.

Nothing to do with doctors orderds,the cable had high impedance (not cut but likely too deeply anchored and developed scarring). Yet I connected that failure to rising arm above my head, as a nasty doctor told me I had done the damage by swimming breast stroke.

My new generator is placed so much on the side that sleeping arm against ribs hurts. I cannot sleep on my back for breathing (not fat, just tight throat), so I have stuck to right side which wakes me several times a night as its uncomfortable.

I cannot see my pacemaker people in  the next 6 months to talk about this as I'm stuck abroad and private side here does not do pacemaker checks, only emergencies. Its distance read,and absolutely normal..yet I'm scared I 'break' another cable.

Any suggestions? Has anyone asked if you can sleep with arm above shoulder level?





by Persephone - 2021-02-18 20:11:40

Hi Katja -  I'm 3 years out from PM implant and have been able to comfortably sleep on the left side with arm up as you describe for quite some time, but I did not have any lead dislodgement problems as you have experienced.  If you're not certain if left-side sleeping is okay for you until you see your doctor, can you try additional pillows to make right-side sleeping more comfortable?  Having a pillow to wrap my arm around has been helpful to add support and comfort for better sleep.


by AgentX86 - 2021-02-18 20:54:47

The position may not be comfortable because of the placement of the pacemaker but there shoud be no problem with the leads.  If I understand you correctly, your elbow will be more or less tucked against your body with the elbow well below the shoulder.  There is nothing dangerous about such a position, even from day-1 (though you won't be sleeping on that side immediately).  Don't worry about pulling a lead out.  This doesn't say that you'll be comfortable though.

After a month, leads are quite well embedded.  The breast stroke is a pretty strenuous stroke and requires an extension something like a golf stroke so I wouldn't do it for several months but after that it shouldn't be a problem.  With everything that can go wrong with leads, I don't think you did anything wrong.  But to answer your question don't worry about your sleeping position.  There isn't any way you can pull at the leads at all.



by Katja3 - 2021-02-19 03:20:59

My sleeping position would be arm rised and tugged under the pillow. That means, rised vertically upright and bent from elbow so that my upper head rests on arm. 

I'm not the slightest worried of dislodged cables. The original failure was supposedly caused by cables getting too embedded. My concern is that by sleeping 8 hs a night with arm vertical I will pinch the cables and cause damage (rupture) to them.

I know the breaststroke did not damage, as breaking cables have a sudden drop of impedance (under 200). Mine had 2400+, which suggests something did not allow the signal to pass into the tissue. However,  being doctor does not mean you necessarily understand, this particular individual scared me by reprimanding me how I had broken it. I've since changed doctors, but the covid means I can't see him and neither can I get comfy sleeping.

The pillows are used, from few to several, but its not a lot of help.




by Tracey_E - 2021-02-19 08:58:14

Raised arm restrictions are for the first 4-6 weeks only. Beyond that, you should have full mobility and be able to sleep however you like. You aren't going to damage a lead from sleep position. 

Sleeping position

by Theknotguy - 2021-02-20 00:18:00


I understand your frustration about sleeping on your left side as I used to do that too.  Post pacemaker implant I wasn't able to sleep on my left side because the pacemaker would be pinched between the shoulder and the rib cage.  I'd get desperate and try to sleep on my left side but I'd only be able to stay that way for a few minutes. Very frustrating.  

I'm starting eight years out and I still can't sleep on my left side for very long.  As I said, very frustrating.  

The only suggestions I can give you is to see if you can get one of those full length pillows, or try a combination of pillows.  You use the pillows as wedges and keep your head from pressing down on the pacemaker and causing it to be pinched.  I haven't found anything else.  You may be able to get a few minutes to about half an hour until things get pinched again and it wakes you up.  Sorry 'bout that.  

I wish I could offer you a better solution but the pillows have been the only solution I've been able to find so far.  

Otherwise I hope your adjustment to the pacemaker goes well.  My best wishes for you.  


by Katja3 - 2021-02-20 05:36:12

Thanks all for your comments.

Like Theknotguy says its super scary and uncomfortable feeling to have a pinched pacemaker. I see from the scar that the latest one has been put some 2cm more on the side,which on one hand is excellent as I can now wear whatever bra without pain, but the downside is that sleeping on the left is terrible. You don't want to think the little box keeping yourself alive (I'm 100% dependant level 3 block) every time you go to sleep. My previous one was more in the middle and I slept in all positions, but had terrible problems with my lady twins as no matter what I wore something pinched the side and made the pm move. 

Oh well, just get on with it as they say. I'll get used to sleeping on the right side... eventually. At least I can now wear whatever laced wonder I feel like 😝

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