How to Sleep with Sciatica – 6 Tips for Better Sleep

Trying to maintain a regular sleep pattern when you’re suffering with sciatica can feel impossible.

Managing a condition that leaves you in a lot of pain every day can be draining. The last thing you want after a long day of walking and/or sitting at your desk, causing you lots of pain, is to get into bed and struggle to sleep through the night.

If you don’t know how to manage sleeping with sciatica you could find yourself losing out on hours of sleep every week. This lack of sleep will certainly catch up with you, affecting your productivity and the energy you need to carry out any treatment you may be undergoing.

So, are you fed up with spending every night restless and in pain? Read on to find out how to manage sleeping with sciatica for a great night’s sleep.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a medical condition that affects your lower back, backside and legs. Sufferers will experience severe pain all along the sciatic nerve, causing you to struggle with everyday activities such as walking, running and sleeping.

Unfortunately, sciatica is pretty common and could affect everyone at some point in their lives. Luckily though, sciatica can be self-treated and managed either with special exercises or medication or both.

Until the condition goes away, sufferers will find it hard to sleep. Getting comfy is essential in a good night’s sleep and if you’re in constant pain, that’s going to be difficult to achieve.

Read our tips on how to sleep with sciatica:

Tips for sleeping with sciatica

As humans, we are habitual sleepers. It can be hard to overwrite years of sleeping habits but, some of our favorite positions can cause sufferers a lot of pain, making sleep almost impossible.

Lying in certain positions can put pressure on your sciatic nerve causing further inflammation and even more pain for you. But, there are some positions you could try that will cause less pain.

Lie on your side

Woman sleeping on side comfortably

Possibly the best-known tip for sleeping with sciatica, sleeping on your side should relieve a lot of the pressure from your sciatic nerve as you are moving all the pressure of your body weight on to your side.

Tip - Make sure the side that causes you pain is not the side you are laying on! It’s also important to note that for this position to work your mattress must have enough give in it for your shoulders to be able to sink into it. Otherwise, this could cause your pelvis to move out of position, causing you further pain.

Elevate your knees

A great option if you find yourself moving onto your back in your sleep. Laying on your back is not a good idea if you suffer with sciatica. However, if you can’t seem to break the habit, elevating your knees will help to relieve some pressure.

Tip - lie flat on your back and raise your knees towards the ceiling, making sure your lower back and backside remain in contact with the mattress. Use pillows beneath your knees to keep them in position.

Pillow positioning

If sleeping on your side, try sleeping with a pillow between your knees. This will help to keep your spine and pelvis in the correct position and prevent any bending or movement.

Tip - turn fully to sleep on your (good) side. Then, slightly bend your knees and put the pillow between them. Make sure there is no gap between your waist and the mattress, if there is, try using a towel or a smaller towel to fill the gap.

Alternatively, you could try sleeping with a body pillow. This will prevent you from turning and moving into a bad position in your sleep.

Sleep on the floor

Yes, you did read that right. Sleeping on the floor may seem like something that would cause back pain but actually sleeping on a hard surface can help to keep your spine from bending out of alignment.

Tip - put a thin surface down to sleep on such as a yoga mat or camping sleeping pad if you have one. Alternatively you could just lie on a rug or if your floor is carpeted this will do fine too.

Invest in a new mattress

If you are struggling with long-term sciatica and will have to manage it for the foreseeable future, it may be worth investing in a better mattress. If this is an option for you, many find that a firmer mattress helps with back pain. Similarly to sleeping on the floor, the harder surface will help to keep your spine aligned.

Tip - try a mattress that is at least medium-firm if you sleep on your back. However, if you are a side sleeper a mattress that is too firm won’t allow your shoulders to sink into the mattress which could also cause the spine to bend.

Create a relaxing sleeping environment

foot hanging sticking out from blanket, person being relaxed and sleeping relaxed

Sleeping in a relaxed and comfortable environment can massively help to get you off to sleep. Try listening to your favorite relaxing music and ensure the room is a good temperature.

Why is disrupted sleep bad for your health?

Having difficulty sleeping can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. Lack of sleep can cause poor concentration during the day, horrible headaches as well as irritability, and fatigue.

Lack of sleep has also been linked to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and irregular mood changes.

Final thoughts

Sleeping with sciatica is no mean feat. But, if you know how to manage your pain, sleeping with sciatica can be less painful and a full night’s sleep can be achieved. These tips will not help to treat sciatica, you will need to seek guidance on treating the condition such as special exercises or medication. But, a better night’s sleep will always help!

The most important thing to remember is that keeping your spine aligned is of the utmost importance and avoid sleeping on your back as much as possible.