Sciatica is one of the most common diagnoses of back pain in America, with 40% of the population experiencing sciatic nerve pain throughout their life. Sciatic nerve pain affects everyday movement and prevents sufferers from getting a good night’s sleep. Thankfully, certain sleeping positions have proven to relieve sciatic pain, so by taking the time to find the one that works best for you, you’ll experience sciatica pain relief in no time. 

What is Sciatica?

There are five sciatic nerve roots in the lower back, extending through the hips, buttocks and back of each leg. Sciatica is a common nerve pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve path when one or more of these nerves become pinched, irritated, compressed or inflamed. Sciatic nerve pain can cause pain, numbness and tingling to radiate along one side of the body, with many people experiencing sciatic pain in the lower back, buttocks and down the back of either leg. Sciatica typically occurs from one of the following:

  • Bulging or slipped disk.
  • Compressed or irritated nerve.
  • Tight muscles in the back or hips.
  • Vertebrae that are out of alignment.
  • Spinal stenosis or narrowing of the spine.
  • Injury to the sciatic nerve from a fall or accident.

Sleeping with Sciatic Nerve Pain

Many sufferers report sciatic nerve pain becoming increasingly worse when it’s time for bed. This pain is partly due to the increased pressure placed on the irritated nerve when lying down. Still, many factors come into play when sleeping with sciatica, including the way you sleep. So, if you experience increased sciatic nerve pain when it’s time for bed, try these sleeping positions to aid in relief.

Sleep on your back with your knees elevated

The compression of the mattress on your spine might cause discomfort when sleeping on your back. Alleviate this pain by placing a pillow under your knees for elevation. The pillow will help decompress the spine while maintaining its proper curvature and relaxing the hip flexors, thus providing sciatica pain relief.

Sleep on your side

Side sleeping is ideal for treating sciatic nerve pain because it removes the pressure from your muscles, disc and sciatic nerve. To achieve optimal sciatica pain relief in this position, lie down with your injured side on top and place a small pillow between your waist and the mattress so your knees remain stacked on top of each other and your hips are square with your shoulders.

Sleep in the fetal position

Like sleeping on your side, the fetal position can provide sciatica pain relief by increasing the space between your vertebrae. Give this position a try by lying on your sciatica-free side, placing a pillow between your knees and bringing them in toward your chest to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Sleep on the floor

When sleeping with sciatica, it’s essential to note that soft surfaces can cause improper spinal alignment by rounding your back and putting pressure on your joints. Perhaps this is why sleeping on the floor has been known to help relieve chronic sciatic nerve pain. If your mattress is too soft and you want to give the floor a go, ensure you have proper support for your back, neck and legs and place a thin mat or thick towel where you intend to sleep.

Additional tips for sleeping with sciatica: 

  • Invest in a medium/firm mattress for optimal support. 
  • Use a body pillow to help prevent flipping onto your stomach in the middle of the night.
  • Take a warm bath before bed to soothe aches and pains and relax the muscles in the lower back and legs.

Treat Sciatic Nerve Pain with Synergy

Getting relief from sciatica can take trial and error, but our staff at Synergy Health is here to help! We offer non-surgical treatments to provide you with pain relief so you can get back to enjoying your life pain-free. Contact us today for a comprehensive evaluation and learn how Synergy Health can help you.