Can you use a TENS unit when sleeping?

If you have a problem sleeping, you can use the TENS unit directly before going to bed, but not while you are asleep.

Within the user manuals for all TENS units, it clearly states not to use the unit while asleep.  People are correctly advised not to go to sleep with the unit switched on.

This is because the user cannot feel the strength of the electrical current the machine is administering.  Also, the user is not then in a position to change the rate, this will then lead to harm.  The machine can send electrical currents too intense and it can burn or irritate the skin.

What are the Limitations for Using TENS?

This is a perfectly relevant question.  It makes sense that people should wonder what the limitations of use are.  After all, for most other sources of pain relief, there are always rules that a person must follow.

For instance, most people have been warned not to take painkillers on an empty stomach.  Every pain killer, whether over the counter or prescription, has specific safe usage guidelines to be observed.

The same applies to the TENS machine.  It is not to be used during sleep.

Can you sleep with a tens machine on in labour?

tens machine on in labourLabour can be painful, but there are different pain relief options available that you may find helpful. It’s good to know what they are before you go into labour.

You may have very clear ideas about the pain relief you want or don’t want. This is helpful but try to keep an open mind.

You may find that, for whatever reason, some methods just don’t work for you at the time.  Don’t feel bad about this, just do whatever is best for you at the time.

However, can you sleep with a tens machine on in labour?  No.  Always remember to be conscious and fully awake when using a TENS Unit.

For the best results, start using TENS early on in your labour.  TENS sends out tiny electrical impulses to block pain signals sent from your body to your brain. This means you are less aware of the pain.  It can also trigger the release of endorphins, which are your body’s pain-relieving feel good chemicals.  Here are the pros and cons:


  • A TENS machine doesn’t affect your baby.
  • You can use other pain relief at the same time.
  • You stay in control of it yourself.


  • It may not work for all women.
  • If you only start using a TENS machine when you’re in established labour, it will not help with pain.
  • You can’t use it in a birthing pool, bath or shower as there is a danger of electrocution.

You may need other pain relief methods as well.

Can a TENS unit cause a heart attack?

According to the American Cancer Society, individuals who have heart complications or those who have an implantable device such as a pacemaker or defibrillator should not use a TENS machine.

Implantable devices work by delivering small, regular shocks that stimulate the heart to beat, which then maintain a normal rhythm. The electrical signals the TENS machine sends may interfere with how the implantable device works.

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