How to Sleep with Sciatica


If you are dealing with the painful condition called sciatica, you’re not alone. It fairly common, plaguing between 15 percent to 40 percent of people at some point in their lives. At times, the shooting pain that runs from your lower back, through your buttocks, and even into the back of the leg can be unbearable. Not to mention the unnerving numbness and tingling sensation in various parts of the legs, feet, and toes. When you have sciatica, getting comfortable is often tricky, making it difficult to sit for long periods of time, let alone sleep. But sleep you must. So, it’s important to learn how to sleep with sciatica.

Causes of Sciatica

Essentially, sciatica is the result of a herniated lumbar disc that is pressing directly on your nerve or is being pinched. This causes inflammation or irritation in your sciatic nerve, which is a long nerve that runs through the buttocks, down the thighs, and reaches the foot and toes. Some potential causes of this inflammation, irritation or pinched nerve include:

  • an overgrown bone (bone spur)
  • pregnancy
  • tumor
  • internal bleeding
  • injury
  • diabetes
  • spinal stenosis

Risks factors for developing sciatica are age, lifestyle, and profession. Young people aren’t likely to experience sciatica as much, but as people reach their 30’s and 40’s, the risk increases. People who have a physical job, where lifting is required are more likely to develop the condition. In addition, people who sit for extended periods of time are more prone to the condition.

sciatic pain

How to Sleep with Sciatica

Sleeping with sciatica can be problematic, particularly if the pain is moderate to severe. While medications, either over-the-counter or prescription, can help, there are a few other tips to help you get a good night’s sleep even with sciatica.

Getting into a comfortable position is probably the hardest thing to do with sciatica. Therefore, your bed, mattress, and accessories are important to make this easier. Just like there is a best mattress for back pain, there is an ideal mattress for sciatica, which typically involves back pain. Most people find that a mattress that is of a medium firmness, one that isn’t too firm or too soft, is best. Natural latex mattresses fit the bill here because they offer contouring support that keeps the spine aligned and pressure points alleviated, while being extremely comfortable and not too firm.

Body pillows are another bedding accessory that people find helpful when learning to sleep with sciatica. Body pillows also help to place the spine in correct alignment, alleviating some of the nerve pinching and pressing, along with the pain. Body pillows are especially comforting for pregnant women with sciatica.

Sciatica can be an acute, transient condition that goes away on its own within a few days or a few weeks; however, if your sciatica pain lingers or if you experiencing increasingly more discomfort and pain, it’s best to see your doctor.

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