Sciatica can totally screw with your sleep sitch. Every toss and turn can lead to a lightning bolt of pain down your side ⚡😫. Here’s how you can get your sleep back on track.
How to sleep with sciatica
Adjust your sleeping position if sciatic nerve pain is worse at night:
- sleep with a pillow between your knees
- sleep on your side
- sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees
- sleep on the floor
- avoid sleeping on your stomach
Sciatica is pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve. (That’s a branch of nerves that runs through your back, butt, and each leg). Ouch! It originates from inflamed nerve roots in the lower back and leads to pain traveling down the leg. This tends to affect one side of your body at a time.
Sciatica pain can def feel more like a nightmare than a sweet dream. Research shows that up to 55 percent of peeps who have chronic lower back pain also report poor sleep quality.
Why is sciatica pain worse in bed?
Lots of peeps have messed up sleep thanks to sciatica. You may have worse sciatica symptoms while in bed because:
- Lying down can put extra pressure on your lower back.
- Certain sleep positions can get on your sciatic nerve’s nerves.
- The pain is more noticeable because you have less things to distract you as you count sheep.
Certain positions can totally cramp your sleep style. Here are the best cozy poses to relieve pressure on your sciatic nerve.
Sleep with a pillow between your knees
Sleeping with a pillow between your knees can help your spine and pelvis stay in a neutral position while you snooze. It can also prevent your legs from flopping around.
How to set up:
- Lie down on your sciatica-free side.
- Slightly bend your knees.
- Place a thin pillow between your knees.
- Add another small pillow between your waist and the mattress if there’s a gap.
Sleep on your side
Side sleepers rejoice! Sleeping on your side can help take pressure off your sciatic nerve and alleviate pain by opening up space for the nerve to glide.
How to set up:
- Lie on your side with your sciatica-side facing up.
- Put a little pillow between your waist and the mattress for extra support.
Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees
This one’s great for even weight distribution and offloading pressure of the spine. It will relax your hip flexors and help you maintain your spine’s natural curve.
How to set up:
- Lie on your back.
- Put a pillow under your head for support.
- Place another pillow under your knees.
- Rest your heels into the mattress.
Try sleeping on the floor
Soft surfaces can lead to an unaligned spine. So if you don’t have a firm mattress, you may want to give your floor a go.
How to set up:
- Put a camping or yoga mat on the floor.
- Pick your fave sleep pose.
- Let Mr. Sandman do his thing 💤.
Sorry stomach sleepers, sleeping on your tummy can totes aggravate your sciatica.
Sleeping on your stomach can cause your spine to curve down toward your mattress. This throws your bones out of alignment and puts extra pressure on your joints and muscles.
FYI: You may not have to give up stomach sleeping forever. But you should try another position until the pain goes away. You may also want to invest in a mattress designed with stomach sleepers in mind.
Sciatica is a super common symptom of pregnancy. But don’t worry, baby! You can still get a good night’s rest if your eggo is preggo.
Doctors generally recommend that pregnant peeps sleep on their side. The left side is even better since it allows optimal blood flow from the large vain running parallel to your spine (aka the inferior vena cava). Left side sleeping also takes some pressure off the liver and kidneys.
Thankfully, side sleeping is already a great position for folks with sciatica. More good news: Studies have found that either side is safe for you and your bébé. So sleep on whichever side isn’t bothering you.
PSA: Add a pillow or towel under your waist or between your knees. You can also use a heating pad to help your muscles relax before bedtime.
Here are some more ways to improve your sleep with sciatica.
- Keep your body in alignment. Try not to twist your spine or swing your hips over too far to the side.
- Try yoga or light stretching. A gentle yoga or stretch sesh before bed can help reduce nerve pressure. It can also loosen and relax your muscles.
- Swap your mattress. Goldilocks knows what’s up. Go with a medium-firm mattress. Studies show they’re best for promoting primo spine health.
- Get a piece of plywood. We know this might sound weird, but hear us out. Put a piece of plywood between your mattress and box spring. It will add a firm layer of support.
- Add tub time to your routine. A warm bath may help soothe lower back pain. Plus a relaxing bath has beaucoup mental health benefits. Win-win.
- Get a body pillow or pregnancy pillow. These bad boys will keep you from flip-flopping throughout the night. They might be extra useful if you’re a stomach sleeper since they can stop you from rolling onto your belly.
- Develop good sleep habits. Adopting solid sleep habits can boost the overall quality of your sleep. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, keep your room at a comfy temp, and say “no” to caffeine before bed.
Sciatica can be a real pain in the A. The discomfort tends to flare at night since certain sleep positions can put extra pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Make sure you sleep in a position that allows your spine to stay aligned. You can also place a pillow or rolled towel between your knees or below your waist for extra support.
P.S. If your sciatic pain lasts longer than a week, it’s time to talk with a pro. Your doc and a physical therapist can help you figure out the cause and offer some dope treatment options.