How To Get A Good Night’s Sleep With Sciatica

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✅ This article has been medically reviewed by: Dr. Kate Sołdaj, M.D. and Dr. Bartłomiej Orybkiewicz, M.D.

Sleeping with sciatica can be a real pain. The pain can keep you up all night, but getting good restful sleep is also one of the best ways to treat the pain associated with sciatica, creating a vicious circle that can be hard to escape from.

If you want to know how to sleep with sciatica, keep on reading. We are going to give you the best way to sleep with sciatica so that you can get the rest you need and wake up feeling more rejuvenated the next day.

how to sleep with sciatica

Best Sleeping Position For Sciatica

If you need to know how to sleep with lower back pain and sciatica, then you are going to need to know the best sciatica sleeping positions. Below, we will discuss the sleeping position for sciatica that we think will help you get a better night’s sleep. 

Sleeping On Your Side With A Pillow Between Your Legs

Sleeping on your side is one of the suggested ways to prevent lower back pain, but for some people, this is not enough. In order to keep your spine more aligned as well as your hips, it is best to place a pillow between them. You can try this with a pillow that has the thickness you like, but if it works for you we suggest purchasing a pillow made specifically for this use.

A pillow that is made to be put between your legs will have a shape that helps the pillow stay in place without budging all night, even if you shift a bit during your sleep. This will be much better than a regular pillow that is likely to slide out even with minimal shifting. 

Elevate Your Knees

Another sciatica sleep position we recommend is elevating your knees. If you are a back sleeper, elevating your knees can keep you from developing lower back pain during your sleep. When you are sleeping flat on your back, this is going to increase the pressure on your lower back, which is going to make it much more difficult to get a good night’s sleep and to avoid further back pain.

In order to do this, you will need to lie flat on your back and put your knees up so that your butt and the heels of your feet are on the bed. Then, place a pillow under your knees and flatten your legs to a resting position. This keeps your knees elevated, taking pressure off of your lower back, without you having to use your muscles to stabilize.

You may need to buy a specialized pillow for this purpose, as those have a sloping shape that is better suited for this method. Or, you can play around with different sizes and densities of pillows in order to find the one that is best suited for you.

Use A Pillow Under Your Stomach

It is not recommended to sleep on your stomach if you are experiencing sciatica pain. However, if you are only able to go to sleep on your stomach, the best thing to do is to put a pillow under your stomach in order to straighten out your spine and take the tension off of your lower back.

You will probably want a thinner pillow to do this, as you don’t want your back to be too bent in the other direction so it looks like you are slouching forward while laying down. You will want to place this pillow opposite of your lower back so in the area of your lower abdomen. This will help you align your spine and get a better night’s sleep.

how to sleep with sciatica

The Top Tips For Getting A Good Night’s Sleep With Sciatica

Now that we have gone over the best ways to position your body for sleep while experiencing pain associated with sciatica, let’s go over some other proactive measures you can take to limit the pain you are going through and help you wake up feeling refreshed.

Invest In The Proper Mattress

An old, sagging mattress isn’t going to help you with your sciatica pain at all. In fact, it’s probably going to worsen it. If you have an old mattress or a memory foam mattress, it’s time to level-up and get a mattress that is going to be good for you.

The best mattresses are going to be hybrid mattresses. These mattresses still have memory foam or other soft foam layers on top that are going to contour to your body and help relieve pain from pressure points, which will allow your spine to be more aligned while decreasing sciatica.

The problem is, when the mattress is entirely made of foam, you are likely going to sink too much, especially if you over overweight. That is why a hybrid mattress is best. 

In a hybrid mattress, under the contouring foam, there are going to be support coils that give the mattress more firmness, This will keep the mattress lasting longer while also ensuring that your spine stays in its proper alignment for years to come.

If you don’t like innerspring coils, even the high-end individually-wrapped ones, we suggest buying a latex foam mattress as opposed to a memory foam mattress. These are going to be a little more firm and also a lot more durable, which will be better for your sciatica pain over time.

Stretch Before You Sleep

Sciatica pain can often be caused by tight muscles, adding to the tension put on your lower back. This is often associated with tightness in the legs, but you should stretch your entire body before going to bed in order to get the best night’s sleep.

We recommend looking up a yoga flow specifically for those with sciatica, or a series of stretches also tailored for those with sciatica if yoga isn’t really your thing. This may be difficult to do at first, but if you stick with it and help relieve the tension and tightness your muscles are experiencing, you will be surprised how much pain is relieved over time.

Take A Warm Bath

One of the things experts recommend for dealing with sciatica pain is also one of the most relaxing. They recommend taking a warm bath in order to release tension from the muscles which will also help reduce the pain associated with sciatica. Stretching before taking a warm bath could be the winning combination. You can even treat yourself by investing in lavender bath salts or the ever-popular bath bombs in order to treat yourself to a relaxing aromatherapy treatment that will make you even more sleepy, calm, and ready for bed.

Invest In Massage Therapy

There are massage techniques specifically structured for dealing with sciatica pain, and investing in a trained and licensed masseuse with lots of experience treating customers with sciatica pain may be one of the steps you have to take to get enough relief in order to get a good night’s sleep. 

If you are not able to afford a masseuse or can’t find one in your area, here are some self-massage techniques you can try before bed in order to relieve some of the tension and help you get better sleep. You can do this yourself or have your partner do it for you.

Rub your lower back in a small, circular motion down towards your buttocks. Be sure to use massage oil or lotion for this. We suggest using one with either natural peppermint or cinnamon in order to help relieve tension in the muscles. 

If you think you can handle it, as this method can be a bit more intense, you can also try exercises with a textured foam roller on a yoga mat every night to try to help massage your lower back before going to bed.

Use Ice, Heat, and Anti-inflammatories

Before bed, try icing your lower back to help numb the pain and firm up the muscles, then, use a heating pad on your lower back as you fall asleep. Ice and then heat application is one of the tried and true methods that athletes use in order to quickly relieve themselves from muscle pain and tension. You should also take an anti-inflammatory about an hour before bed per your doctor’s recommendation in order to help decrease any muscle inflammation that may be causing the lower back pain that you are experiencing.

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