Once again, you had a restless night due to sciatica pain. I’m guessing those sleepless nights are too many to count, and you are looking for ways to have a relaxing sleep.
Look no further because you have in front of you a helpful guide on how to sleep with sciatica. You can say goodbye to nights without sleep if you follow these few simple steps.
But first, let’s get to know the origin of sciatica and what causes it.
Table of Contents
- What is Sciatica?
- What Can Cause Sciatica?
- Simple Guidelines on How to Sleep With Sciatica
- What are The Best Sleeping Positions For Sciatica?
- Final Words
What is Sciatica?
Sleeping with sciatica is not only painful, but it can be tiresome as well. You wake up night after night, agitated from the pain, and anxious to fall asleep again. Sounds familiar?
Only those who know this scenario by heart will understand the real pain of sciatica. However, for those who are new, let’s break it down.
Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is under inflammation or spinal abnormalities. This causes pain and leads to restless nights.
The truth is, everyone can suffer from sciatica. It can crawl its way into your personal life and make nights and days unbearable. This is a common type of back pain that radiates down to the sciatic nerve, hence the name.
The nerve extends from your lower back and down to the legs. When pain occurs, that is the sciatic nerve telling you that it is compressed or irritated.
What Can Cause Sciatica?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research, sciatica is usually caused by the inflammation or irritation of the sciatic nerve. However, it can be irritated by other factors as well.
The most common factors are muscle spasm, spondylolisthesis, narrowing of the spinal canal, degenerative disc disease, or pregnancy. The list goes on, and the pain is unbearable to many.
Simple Guidelines on How to Sleep With Sciatica
Here are some tips how you can make your sciatica less painful and have a peaceful night's sleep.
1. Use a Body Pillow
Regardless of whether you are using small pillows or body pillows, when you suffer from sciatica, you have to get as much support as possible. Having extra help is always helpful, especially when you have back pain.
Depending on the place you put the pillow, it can relieve pain from pressure points that flare up sciatica in the first place.
It is beneficial if you put a pillow between the legs. In this way, you are making sure that the hips and spine are aligned and elevated.
2. Invest in The Right Mattress
Investing in a quality mattress is probably a crucial point in sleeping with sciatica. We bet you will feel a difference instantly when you change the mattress.
Are you a side sleeper? Then you should get a softer mattress that offers support for the hips and shoulders.
For back sleepers, we would recommend a medium to firm mattress that evenly distributes the weight.
For stomach sleepers, please take a look at firmer mattresses that align the body and keep it afloat.
3. Keep The Knees Elevated
We understand that placing a body pillow between the knees is not helpful to everyone. If you did not find pain relief in this step, try laying on your back and bend your knees a bit.
You can even add a few pillows below the knees and find a comfortable position.
Or, if this is not enough, search for automatic beds.
They can be adjusted to your comfort and help to keep the same position throughout the night.
4. Do Light Exercise Before Bed
Doing light exercise can help with easing up the pain. However, note that we put an accent on the light. In no way do we recommend you have a full workout session before bedtime since that can result in a sudden adrenaline rush.
Stretching and mild exercise are the way to go. One of the best exercises you can do is hamstring stretches, knee to chest stretches, glute raising or a child pose.
Take a look at this helpful clip on one of the many exercises you can incorporate into your bedtime routine.
5. Pampering With a Warm Bath
Next up is running a warm bath that relaxes your muscles. A warm bath has helped many in pain relief caused by sciatica.
Not only that, but it fully relaxes your muscles and results in a peaceful sleep. Moreover, a warm bath can release endorphins that mentally prepare you for an uninterrupted sleep session.
Therefore, the next time you feel anxious before bedtime, try running a warm bath to take your mind off the pain, and fully relax. Grab your favorite bath bomb, put on some relaxing music, and create an unforgettable atmosphere.
6. Sleeping On a Hard Surface
Many would say that sleeping on the floor has helped with their sciatica problem. Of course, experts would not agree, but if it helps, why not give it a try.
Sleeping on the floor will minimize the heat retainment and regulate body temperature. Also, it keeps the body aligned, and afloat which will not cause sciatica to flare up.
This is a neutral sleeping position that lets you keep the same place throughout the night. It is believed that sleeping on hard surfaces promotes healthy spine alignment and relieves back pain.
Even though the mattresses are designed to target specific pressure points, sleeping on the floor also has advantages. When you lay on a flat and hard surface, the body is forced to adjust naturally.
However, please be careful with this step. You do need to place a towel or a yoga mat underneath, and properly support your head and knees.
Place a few pillows under the knees and head while your body adjusts to the new sleeping environment.
7. Gentle Massage
Both sciatica or any other type of back pain are relieved through gentle massages. With massages, you promote optimal blood circulation and soothe tense muscles.
When you spent the entire day running errands, you are bound to have sore muscles. When the muscles do not get proper attention with massages, they tend to heal slower and finally result in spasms.
With gentle massages, you can stimulate the release of endorphins. Endorphins can help ease the pain by increasing the pleasure center if you don't know.
It will take your mind of sciatic pain for a few hours and eventually give you a decent night's sleep.
Just remember not to go rough with massages, baby steps are the key.
What are The Best Sleeping Positions For Sciatica?
Finally, we are paying attention to sleeping positions and how they can affect sleeping with sciatica. This section will focus on the best and worst positions for sciatica sleeping.
1. The Best Sleeping Position
Sleeping on the back is considered as the ultimate solution for sciatica pain. Since the pain is coming from the lumbar area, you need to make sure not to irritate that location.
Lower back and lumbar discs are affected the most here, and getting them pressure realized is your number one priority.
The supine position is achieved in a few simple steps. First, you need to lay flat on your back in a neutral position.
Next, elevate your knees slightly and place a few pillows underneath for support.
You can add as many pillows you want until you find a position that suits you. If, however, this position is not comfortable enough, try by placing pillows on the side of your back and under the neck.
Next up is the side sleeping. Sleeping on the side has also delivered in beneficial results for back pain.
Since you are not sleeping on your back, you have to have a proper spine alignment for this position to be beneficial.
Not only this, but your knees need to be slightly curled and hips straight. Then, try bending your knees towards the chest at a 90-degree angle. Don’t forget to place a pillow between the legs to keep the sciatic nerve pressure-free.
This fetal position opens up the space between the vertebrae and helps with severe pain relief.
Here is a helpful video to illustrate the best sleeping positions:
2. The Worst Sleeping Position
As you probably know, sleeping on the stomach is one of the worst positions for sciatica patients. This position is likely to spike the pain level you feel from sciatica.
Whether you deal with back pain or not, sleeping on the stomach is not recommended. It can damage the natural curvature of the spine and cause pressure for the neck, back, and shoulder area.
Laying down causes the pinching of the sciatica nerve and spreads the pain throughout your legs. For those who cannot shake the comfort of this position, look for firm mattresses that will give you a proper body alignment.
Now that we have come to the very last part, we have only a few final words. We understand that sleeping with sciatica is one of the most challenging tasks you embark on as soon as bedtime comes.
However, don’t lose hope thinking that peaceful nights are a problem of the past. With these simple steps, you can sleep peacefully as one should, with no middle of the night waking up.
Let us know if this review and these guidelines have helped you say goodbye to restless nights once and for all.