10 Tips for Sleeping with Sciatica

  • Invest in a Good Mattress
  • Use a Body Pillow
  • Elevate Your Knees
  • Take a Bath before Bed
  • Do Some Stretches before Bed
  • Choose Your Best Side
  • Sleep on Your Back
  • Take Your Prescribed Medications
  • Develop a Nighttime Routine
  • Don’t Sleep on Your Stomach

When you’re suffering from sciatica, the experience is not just painful, but also uncomfortable. Some people have difficulty standing, walking, sitting, and many have difficulty learning how to sleep with sciatica. For some, sleeping with sciatica can lead to anxiety the moments before bedtime as you prepare for the possibility of once again not getting a good night’s rest. If you’re wondering the best way to sleep with sciatica, below are some helpful tips.

1) Invest in a Good Mattress

Although your mattress is not the root of your sciatic issues, it could be making it worse. An orthopedic bed is an excellent option if you’re finding yourself losing sleep due to sciatic pain. Plushy, memory foam mattresses can lose their shape quickly and fail to support your spine properly.

  • For Stomach Sleepers: Invest in a firmer mattress that aligns your body and keeps you afloat.
  • For Side Sleepers: Find a soft mattress that offers support by your hips and shoulders.
  • For Back Sleepers: Look for a medium firm mattress that gives you full-body support.

2) Use a Body Pillow

When sleeping with sciatica, use a body pillow when sleeping on your side or just place a regular pillow between your knees. By putting a pillow between your knees, it helps keep your spine, hips, and pelvis aligned.

If sleeping with a pillow seems too bulky or uncomfortable, consider mimicking the same sleeping position without the spine. This will also align your spine with your hips and pelvis.

3) Elevate Your Knees

For some, placing a pillow between their knees when sleeping with sciatica is just not enough. When resting on your back, bend your knees a little. Slip a pillow underneath your knees and continue adding pillows until you find a comfortable position. Try either of the pillow methods to determine which one works best for you.

how to sleep with sciatica

If you are fully committed to finding the perfect sleeping position for sciatica, consider investing in a mechanical bed. One that you can adjust to keep your legs elevated, and fix it to a position that gives you comfort.

4) Take a Bath before Bed

A warm bath can relax you, release pain-fighting endorphins and relax the muscles around your sciatic nerve roots. Your bath water should be warm and pleasant, not hot. Another option is to use a hot water bottle on your lower back or buttock just before bed. Just remember that the temperature should be warm and not hot.

5) Do Some Stretches before Bed

Exercising before bed is not recommended as you can quickly find yourself wide awake from the adrenaline rush. However, simple stretches before bed can reduce sleeping with sciatica pain. Many of these stretches can be done on your bed, so you don’t even need to wake up for them. These are the best stretches for sciatica:

  • Knees to chest
  • Pelvic tilt
  • Knees to opposite shoulder
  • Figure 4 stretch

6) Choose Your Best Side

If a pillow isn’t working, which it doesn’t all the time, consider using a tennis ball. Next time you’re putting on your pajamas, choose a pair of pants/shorts with pockets and place a tennis ball on the side you don’t want to sleep on. You’re less likely to shift to the side due to the discomfort of the tennis ball.

best way to sleep with sciatica

7) Sleep on Your Back

There is no “correct” way to sleep with sciatica. Although some people find relief on their side, others find it when sleeping on their back. Try sleeping on your back with knees elevated. If you find that doesn’t work, switch to a side sleeping position. You may even need to switch from one position to the other mid-way through the night.

The secret to finding comfort while sleeping on your back is to offer support to your lower back.

Here’s where a good mattress comes in. If you don’t have a supportive bed, then add a small pillow or throw under your tailbone to offer the stability and support your back needs to feel comfortable in this position.

8) Take Your Prescribed Medications

If your doctor has prescribed you with pain medications, take them as prescribed if your sciatica pain is not allowing you to get any sleep. Rest is essential and can actually aid in the healing process. If you do not want to take any prescribed medications, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can also help reduce some of your sciatica.

9) Develop a Nighttime Routine

After you have taken a bath and completed some stretches, get into comfortable nightwear and relax in your bed. Avoid watching television or using your smartphone just before bed. Create a sleep environment that is peaceful and calm.

Your nighttime routine should be the same one every night. To have better sleeping habits, you must go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including the weekends. Having a set sleeping schedule will help you fall asleep faster.

10) Don’t Sleep on your Stomach

If possible, it is best to avoid it if you have sciatica. Stomach sleeping is actually considered the worse sleeping position as it flattens the spine’s natural curvature and strains the neck when your head is turned to one side. Even if this position provides sciatica relief, avoid it, so you don’t suffer from back and neck problems in the future.

For those who can only console sleep on their stomach, consider switching your mattress to a medium firm mattress. These type of beds will provide your body the support it needs to stay afloat and keep your spine aligned.

Sleeping with sciatica doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Using some resources and different sleeping techniques can help you find the perfect sleeping position that works for you. Getting the rest while suffering from sciatica is necessary to help your body repair itself and alleviate sciatica symptoms.