How to Sleep With Sciatica (Tips, Do’s, and Don’ts)

  Reviewed
 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.
Reviewed by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

SuperHumans are the toughest, fittest, healthiest and happiest human beings on this planet. My mission is to help you realize your superhuman potential and learn how to live a long, happy and healthy life.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT
Reviewed by Rhealyn Tropia, RMT

I’m a content organizer, fact-checker and super mom who ensures content is medically-reviewed, highly accurate, and engaging. My passion is organizing information and ensuring the facts are presented in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand.

If you’re suffering from sciatica, then you know how extremely uncomfortable and painful it can be. This pain can stop you dead in your tracks as you try to get through your day, as well as make sleeping very difficult.

If you have sciatica, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up on sleeping altogether, though. In fact, there are a number of things that you can do to help yourself get acquainted with how to sleep with sciatica.

The tips I will be providing later will help you put the power back into your hands when it comes to getting more restful sleep every night.

What Is Sciatica, and What Causes It?

Sciatica is a common condition that causes pain and numbness in the lower back, buttocks, and legs. Sciatica is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve is usually compressed due to a herniated disc in your spine. The most common places for herniated discs are the lumbar spine (lower back) and the cervical spine (neck).

The symptoms of sciatica include pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, or lack of coordination in your legs. People who have sciatica may also experience burning, throbbing, or shooting pain in their legs.

Why It’s Hard to Sleep With Sciatica

Before I give a rundown on how to sleep with sciatica pain, I’ll discuss five (5) common reasons why it’s hard to get some rest.

Pain

The pain itself is the first reason why it is hard to sleep with sciatica. Pain disrupts sleep quality and quantity, which can lead to more pain and less sleep.

This can make it difficult for people who are experiencing sciatica to get restful sleep, which in turn makes it harder for them to manage their condition.

Uncomfortable

The second reason why sleeping with sciatica can be difficult is because it can be uncomfortable. For those whose pain is localized in the lower back and legs, lying down can be difficult or painful.

trying to sleep

Lying on your side might be uncomfortable because you have to keep your leg straight and take pressure off of the spine; lying flat may cause pressure on your lower back or hips; sitting up may cause pain in your back or legs; standing up may cause pain in both areas.

Inflammation 

Experiencing more inflammation at night is another reason why it is hard to sleep with sciatica. It’s true: when people experience sciatica, their bodies respond by producing more inflammation than usual.

This can have a significant impact on your ability to sleep well because inflammation is known to cause pain and discomfort in people with sciatica. If you are suffering from this condition, it may feel like you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep at night.

Pain Gets Worse at Night

There are many reasons why it is hard to sleep with sciatica. One of the primary ones is that the pain seems magnified at night, so it’s hard to get the rest you need. There are fewer distractions at night than during the day, so you might be more aware of your pain than when you’re busy at work.

Nighttime can also be a time when people are more likely to think about their health, which can make them more anxious about their condition and cause them to worry about how they’ll cope with it in the future.

Movement and Alertness

You move less at night than during the day. The symptoms of sciatica are often worse at night, so it makes sense that your movement is also less during these hours. This makes it harder for your body to relax and fall asleep.

Your brain gets overstimulated by light. When we’re awake, our brains respond to light by increasing our alertness and energy levels to prepare for activity.

But when we’re trying to sleep? That same response actually makes us wake up. It’s no wonder that people who suffer from insomnia tend to sleep better in darker rooms or with blackout curtains (or even wearing an eye mask).

How to Sleep With Sciatica

How do you sleep with sciatica pain? Sleeping with sciatica pain could be a stressful situation. In this section, I will be talking about effective ways to deal with it.

holding a tablet on her lap while sitting on her bed

You shouldn’t be having a hard time sleeping at night, just because you are experiencing the torturing pain during the day. Try and go over the steps mentioned here, and decide which works best for you.

Best Sleeping Positions for People With Sciatica

How should you sleep with sciatic nerve pain? These 6 tips will show you how to relieve sciatica pain in bed by discovering the best sleeping position that will work for you.

1. Elevate Your Knees

Elevating your knees while you sleep can help relieve the pain of sciatica. The pain caused by sciatica typically gets worse when you sit or lie down, but it may also be present when you move around.

Sciatica can occur after an injury to the spine, poor posture, or other musculoskeletal problems such as herniated discs or pinched nerves. To elevate your knees during sleep, place a pillow or two under each knee.

This will allow you to keep your back straight while sleeping on your side without putting excess pressure on your knees. If this does not help relieve your pain, try using a wedge under each knee instead of placing pillows underneath them.

2. Sleep on Your Back

Sleeping on your back also helps you sleep better because it keeps your body in alignment. This reduces stress on joints, muscles and ligaments.

The main benefit of sleeping on your back for sciatica pain relief is that it allows for proper spinal alignment which will give you more restful sleep and less pain when you wake up in the morning.

3. Don’t Sleep on Your Stomach

If you suffer from sciatica pain, sleeping on your stomach can make it worse. Sleeping on your stomach can cause pressure on your back and spine.

This can increase the symptoms of sciatica pain, including numbness, tingling, and weakness in the legs. Sleeping on your side or back is preferable to help relieve these symptoms.

4. Use a Pillow Between Your Legs

One way to ease sciatica pain is to place a pillow between your legs while lying down on your side. This will help support your hips and pelvis as well as reduce pressure on your lower back, which will help relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.

nice and clean bed with pillows

5. Sleep in a Fetal Position

Sleep in a fetal position can help relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve, which runs through the lower back and down the legs. It can also help with back pain, as well as other kinds of pain such as arthritis or headaches.

To get into the fetal position: Lie down on your side with your knees bent and feet together. Pull up one knee while straightening out your other leg. Place a pillow between your knees and use another pillow under your head.

6. Use a Pillow Under Your Abdomen

When you lie on your back with your knees bent and put a pillow under your abdomen, the curve of the spine shifts away from the area where there was pressure on the nerves before. This position also allows gravity to help pull fluids out of the discs so they can heal more quickly.

Tips to Sleep Better Even With Sciatica Nerve Pain

Follow these 10 tips on how to sleep to relieve sciatica to get that much-needed relief:

1.  Invest in Purchasing a Good Mattress

The first thing you need is a mattress that will support your back. If you’re on your side, choose a mattress with a medium firmness rating so that your spine stays in alignment when sleeping on your side.

You should also look for one that has a pillow top or at least an extra layer of foam or quilting at the top of the mattress so that it cushions your body when it rests on the bed.

If you’re having trouble finding comfort in bed because of sciatica pain, try using an adjustable bed frame so that you can adjust its height and tilt as needed to make sure your spine is supported properly during sleep.

2. Buy a Body Pillow

The right body pillow will help you make sure you’re sleeping in the right position so that your muscles are properly aligned while they rest. It can also prevent your spine from becoming curved during the night, which can cause more pain or even damage over time.

When choosing a body pillow, look for one that’s firm enough to provide support but soft enough to be comfortable. The best way to test this is to lie down on top of it for at least five minutes before buying it; if it makes you feel uncomfortable after that time period passes then it may not be right for you.

woman sleeping with body pillow

3. Take a Warm Bath Before You Go To Bed

A warm bath can relax your muscles, which can help reduce pain. It also helps promote blood flow, which helps relieve inflammation. Additionally, taking a warm bath is known to reduce stress levels and anxiety, which can contribute to sciatica pain.

4. Do Some Stretching

One way to help yourself get some rest is by doing some stretching before you go to bed. The following exercises will help loosen up your muscles and relieve tension in the area.

  • Lying on your back, raise one leg up toward the ceiling and hold for five seconds. Then lower it down to the floor, keeping your hip and knee straight so that your foot rests flat on the floor. Repeat with the other leg. Do this ten times with each leg.
  • Lie on your back with both feet flat on the floor and lift one leg up toward the ceiling while keeping your knee bent at 90-degrees so that your foot rests on top of your thigh (but not touching). Lower it down without letting it touch anything until it’s 1 inch above where it started off—then repeat with the other leg! Do this ten times with each leg as well!

5. Don’t Skip Your Prescribed Medications

If you have sciatica, don’t skip your prescribed medications. Oftentimes, patients who experience sciatica pain will choose to stop taking their prescribed medications in an effort to sleep better. In fact, this is a very common mistake for many patients who are suffering from sciatica pain.

However, it is important to remember that these medications were prescribed for a reason and skipping those medications can actually make the pain worse and make it more difficult for you to sleep through the night.

6. Create and Follow a Nighttime Routine

Creating and following a nighttime routine is a great way to establish a habit that will help you get the good night’s sleep your body needs.

Here are some tips for creating your own nighttime routine:

  • Get into bed at the same time every night and try not to read or watch TV in bed.
  • Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Make sure your room is dark and quiet, so you can get into a relaxed state of mind before falling asleep.
  • If you feel like something is keeping you awake, try taking a warm bath or drinking some chamomile tea before going to bed.
bedside lamp light at night

7.  Use a Neck Pillow

If you’re suffering from sciatica pain, you know that getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult. The best way to get the pain under control is by using a neck pillow.

A neck pillow is designed to support your head and neck while you sleep, which will help keep your body in alignment and reduce pressure on your lower back. This reduces stress on the sciatic nerve and helps you relax so you can sleep peacefully through the night.

8. Used Prescribed Pain Relievers.

Use pain relievers prescribed specially for sciatica. Prescription pain relievers are available with a doctor’s order, and they can help to relieve your sciatica symptoms so that you can get on with your day.

They’re also safe for long-term use, so if you have chronic back pain, prescription medication might be right for you.

9. Try Massages for Sciatica at Home

Massage is one way to soothe your body and mind after a long day, which helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. There are many different types of massages, but the one that we recommend for sciatica is acupressure.

Acupressure uses pressure points on your body to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. It’s also easy to do at home without any special equipment or training—just by pressing your fingers into certain areas of your body for about 30 seconds at a time.

This process can be done as often as you’d like throughout the day, but it’s especially helpful before bedtime because it helps relax sore muscles and calm down your nerves so that they don’t keep firing off signals that keep you awake at night.

10.  Lie on Your Best Side

Test and see which is the most comfortable lying position your body is whenever you sleep. I will be going into details in the section.

11.  Take Mood-enhancing Supplements

The best mood-enhancing supplements for sciatica back pain are those that will help reduce inflammation and pain while also being able to provide you with nutrients that will help improve your overall health.

supplements

Taking an over-the-counter medication might work for some people, but if you want something that is going to provide long-term benefits, then taking a supplement is the way to go.

I would vouch for Serenity as a top mood-enhancing supplement, for which I will be providing a comparative review later in the next section.

Supplements For Better Sleep Even With Sciatica

A lot of people with sciatica experience poor sleep quality and quantity. While this is common, it can have a negative impact on your health if left untreated.

Mood enhancing supplements for sciatica back pain are designed to help you manage these symptoms by providing a boost of happiness and energy that keeps you feeling good all day long.

They’re made from natural ingredients so they won’t interfere with any medications or treatments that your doctor has prescribed, but they will still help lift your spirits when they need it most.

Serenity is a supplement that helps improve sleep quality and quantity, even if you have sciatica. This product contains natural ingredients such as melatonin and L-theanine, which are known to help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed every morning.

Serenity also contains magnesium, which is essential for good muscle function—especially when it comes to relaxing muscles like those in your back. Let’s have a quick look at this comparative table on Serenity with other leading sleep supplements:

Brand nameSerenityDr. Axe Stress and SleepZhou Calm NowOnnit NEW Mood
Main product ingredientsMagnesium, , L-theanine, L-taurine Valerian root, Magnolia bark, Hops flower, Lemon balm, Ashwagandha root, Passion flower, St. John’s Wort,  Holy basil leaf, Chamomile flowerReishi Mycellium, Ashwagandha root, Lavender flower, Hops flower, Passion flowerPassion flower And Ashwagandha, Rhodiola roseaLemon balm, Valerian root, Chamomile flower, Jujube seed
Contains fillers?NoNoYesYes
Other product notesSerenity is a supplement, designed to help you get the sleep you need, recover from adrenal fatigue and shield your body against exhaustion. Serenity is the product of rigorous research and testing by our team, who have spent years studying the effects of fatigue on the human body. We’ve learned that adrenal fatigue can be caused by a number of things, including stress, poor nutrition and lack of sleep. Not only do these factors affect your energy levels and ability to focus while awake—they also leave you feeling exhausted when it’s time to go to bed. But getting enough sleep isn’t just about feeling refreshed in the morning; it’s about repairing your body and mind so that they’re ready for another day of work or play. That’s where Serenity comes in: as a daily supplement, Serenity can help with sleep optimization and fatigue recovery of the adrenal system. It also shields the body against exhaustion, and provides mental clarity. A supplement with a world class formula, and a product whose conception is not only supported by modern science, but packed with powerful, health-boosting natural ingredients.Stress and Sleep combines several botanical ingredients that have long been used in traditional health practices, which include passion flower, reishi mushroom, ashwagandha, lavender, as well as hops flower, to foster more a restful sleep, encouraging mental relaxation, helping reduce stress and many more. Stress and Sleep is a 100% natural remedy that helps to combat the effects of stress on your body by reducing cortisol levels and boosting serotonin production. This helps to keep you focused during the day while also providing you with an improved mood and energy level so that you can get through those long nights when insomnia strikes again.With Calm Now, you’ll experience the power of ancient herbs and extracts. It has just the right amount of herbal ingredients for optimum results. It can be difficult to stay focused during stressful events, but Calm Now offers support in making you feel at ease in such situations. It is recommended as a daily supplement.New MOOD® is a nutrient formula that can help you feel happier, more upbeat, and more positive. The key components of New MOOD® are L-tryptophan and 5-HTP, which are serotonin’s major components. When combined with Vitamin B6, you can experience the benefits of serotonin on your mood and outlook. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is linked to mood, positive outlook, and overall happiness. When combined with L-tryptophan and 5-HTP (serotonin’s major components), with Vitamin B6, New MOOD® can provide the nutrients to optimize serotonin levels.

When to Visit Your Doctor?

Sciatica pain can be a very serious condition, and you should always seek medical treatment if you are experiencing symptoms of it. At the earliest signs of sciatica, it is best to consult your doctor to avoid further progression of the condition.

Here are some signs that you need to see a doctor right away:

  • Pain that radiates down your back leg (usually starting between the hips and buttocks)
  • Numbness or tingling in your leg(s)
  • Weakness in your leg(s)
  • Shooting pains in your legs
  • Difficulty walking or sitting upright

FAQs About Sleeping With Sciatica

How to Sleep With Sciatica Nerve Pain?

If you have sciatica nerve pain, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Here are some tips I’ve mentioned earlier that may help:

  • Keep your spine aligned.
  • Avoid lying on your back for long periods of time.
  • Use a pillow that helps support your neck and shoulders while you sleep on your side (or, if you prefer, on your stomach).
  • Take a hot bath before bedtime; this will relax your muscles and help ease the pain of sciatica nerve pain.

How to Sleep With Sciatica Pain in the Left Leg?

When you have sciatica pain in your left leg, it can make it hard to sleep. Here are some tips for how to get comfortable when you’re suffering from sciatica pain in your left leg:

  • Try sleeping on your stomach with a pillow between your knees and under your hips. This will help keep pressure off of the nerve root.
  • Use ice packs on areas where there is pain or discomfort—this helps reduce inflammation and relieve tension around the affected area.
  • Use heat therapy (e.g., hot packs) before bedtime to relax muscles and encourage deeper sleep
sleeping peacefully

How to Sleep With Sciatica Pain in the Lower Back?

Here are some tips to help you sleep better despite having sciatica pain:

  • Invest in a good mattress
  • Buy a body pillow
  • Take a warm bath before you go to bed.
  • Do some stretching
  • Don’t skip your prescribed medications.
  • Use a neck pillow.
  • Use pain relievers prescribed specially for sciatica.
  • Lie on your best side.
  • Take a mood-enhancing supplements

How to Sleep With Sciatica Numbness?

When you have sciatica, it’s generally easier to sleep when you’re lying on your side because this position helps to reduce pressure on your spine. However, some people with sciatica find it difficult to sleep in this position because of numbness.

To help you get comfortable while sleeping on your side:

  • Use pillows under your knees and lower back (to help minimize pressure)
  • Place a pillow between your knees (to help keep them apart)
  • Use a firm mattress or consider sleeping on top of several pillows (to increase support for your lower back).

How to Sleep With Sciatica on Both Sides?

Sleeping with both sciatica on both sides can be difficult, but there are a few things you can do to make it more manageable.

First, try to avoid lying flat on your back, as this can exacerbate the pain. Instead, try propping yourself up on pillows so that you’re sitting up slightly. This will help prevent the pressure on your lower back that might cause more pain.

If you have to lie down flat because of other symptoms (like nausea or dizziness), consider putting a pillow between your knees while prone. This will help reduce the pressure on your lower back from lying flat on your stomach.

A final tip: if you have trouble falling asleep at night, consider taking over-the-counter sleep aids like melatonin or mood-enhancing supplements. These medications can help you relax and fall asleep more easily—and they won’t cause side effects like drowsiness in the morning.

How to Sleep With Sciatica When Pregnant?

On top of the tips that I have laid out earlier, here is an explanation on how you can maximize the use of pillows to prop yourself up when you are pregnant and are experiencing sciatica:

  • Place a pillow between your knees when lying on your side (this will help keep your hips aligned).
  • Put pillows under your knees if lying on your back (this will help relieve pressure from the lower back).
  • Try sleeping with an extra pillow between your legs (this will prevent compression of the spine).

Conclusion

While it will take some time to recover from sciatic nerve pain, there are steps that can help you get back to sleeping comfortably. Sleeping on your side is the best position for many with this pain, and I’ve outlined what you need for a good night’s sleep with sciatica.

Also, the sooner you include sciatica exercises, stretches, and strengthening into your daily life, the lower your recovery time will be. Always consult with a professional before embarking on any physical activity that could compromise your back.

Join our community of thrivers through our exclusive Facebook group! For more sleep-related articles, you might want to check out the best way to sleep with a stuffed-up nose and how to sleep after wisdom teeth removal.

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