2020 Research

Sciatica Mattress Guide

Read our complete Sciatica Mattress Guide Below

If you’ve ever felt that tug of pain from the very inside of your hip, down the back of your legs and into your knees, you’ve likely experienced sciatic nerve pain. This is one of those pains that doesn’t seem to be able to be reached, and while there are positions that you can get yourself into to stretch the muscle and alleviate some of the pain, it’s not always possible for those of limited mobility. It’s important to understand how you can relieve the symptoms of sciatic pain, though, because otherwise you could find yourself in excruciating pain and not know how to deal with it.

Sciatica refers to pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. Typically, sciatica affects only one side of your body. sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine or narrowing of the spine compresses part of the nerve. This causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.

Although the pain associated with sciatica can be severe, most cases resolve with non-operative treatments in a few weeks. People who have severe sciatica that’s associated with significant leg weakness or bowel or bladder changes might be candidates for surgery.

How is Sciatica Treated?

Some common treatments for sciatica include:

  1. Medication
  2. Physical therapy
  3. Surgery
  4. Steroid injections
  5. Alternative medicine (such as acupuncture)
  6. Seeing a chiropractor

However, there are also several lifestyle changes that can help you find relief from your symptoms. If you often experience sciatica symptoms at night, you may benefit from a new mattress and/or adjustable bed.

What prevents good sleep with sciatica?

During sleep, you are not moving around as much as you would be while awake, which puts your body in a position of relaxing  little too much. This lack of movement and motion allows for the body to remain in one position for too long, putting added stress on any component of your neck, hips and back, which can potentially worsen sciatica.

You spend around a third of the day in bed, so it is critically important to have proper spinal alignment while you sleep, just as you would try to have good posture throughout the day while sitting or standing. Good spinal alignment is essential to preventing the symptoms of sciatica while sleeping, so that a person can reap the full benefits of a good night’s sleep.

Millions of people experience back, hip, and neck pain due to conditions such as:

  1. Arthritis
  2. Degenerative disc disease
  3. Fibromyalgia
  4. Herniated disc
  5. Hip Bursitis
  6. Sciatica
  7. Spinal stenosis

How to get a good night's sleep with sciatica

Someone suffering from sciatica often experiences pain that radiates from your lower spine to your buttock and down the back of your leg, which can affect daily activities, including the ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Envisioning a good night’s sleep with sciatica includes the alleviation of pressure on the nerves in the back, neck and spine. Finding the best mattress for sciatica shouldn’t be too difficult, but it’s important that you do your research on a good quality mattress. An adjustable base is a fundamental investment to help sooth these conditions, too.

Some medical professionals also recommend sleeping in a reclining chair or using a wedge pillow as a solution to keep the body elevated. The thing is, reclining chairs don’t typically allow the same level of customization as an adjustable bed. As for wedge pillows, they limit sleeping positions, such as sleeping on the side and/or stomach. Therefore, only allowing back sleeping, which increases the incidences of snoring and snoring tends to promote acid reflux.

So, in most cases, an adjustable bed is your best choice.

What to look for in a mattress if you have sciatica

Support & Spinal Alignment

You may not realize it, but good posture is important when you sleep. The muscles and ligaments (tissue that holds joints together) in your back need to relax and recover while you snooze. If a mattress is too firm — or too squishy — it won’t support your spine at your neck or lower back the way it needs to. If you have wide hips, for instance, a slightly softer surface may be better. You need some more give in order to keep your spine in alignment. Someone with narrower hips might be better off with a firmer surface.

Firmness

Firmness levels and options will be key in determining your comfort. “The best advice I could give is the ‘Goldilocks Method’ — not too hard, and not too soft,” says Dr. Tamlyn. What’s firm enough (but not too firm) is different for everyone.  In these cases, a mattress that offers dual firmness — different firmness settings on each side of the bed — may be the best option.  If you have wide hips, for instance, a slightly softer surface may be better. You need some more give in order to keep your spine in alignment. Someone with narrower hips might be better off with a firmer surface.

*Remember to shop for the best quality and value of a mattress rather than for price. A higher quality mattress will be more expensive.  So, look out for sales and promotions that will allow you to make good comparisons between brands.

Durability

Adjustable beds can cause more wear and tear due to the constant motion. As a result, mattresses with longer-than-average lifespans — such as air mattress, memory foam, and latex models — tend to be more suitable for these beds than mattresses with typically shorter lifespans.

Hospital Tested & Clinically Proven

In most cases, if a mattress claims one or both of these, they are most likely used to prevent bedsores for long term care patients at hospitals.  But, what most people fail to put together, is bedsores and back pain prevention are very similar.  Essentially these types of mattresses allow for Max. Body Weight Displacement, which in return provides pressure relief that not only prevents bed sores, but also provides pressure relief against the back and sensitive joints throughout the body. This can be extremely important for those who suffer from back issues and especially fibromyalgia suffers.

Adjustable Base Compatibility

Elevating your upper-body by at least six inches can help improve sciatica symptoms by minimizing the pressure your lumbar discs place on your nerve roots.  As a result it’s extremely important to look into a bed that’s compatible with an adjustable base, as well. Generally, it’s better to go for a mattress that’s no higher than 13 inches since thicker beds won’t be as flexible.

Best sleep positions for sciatica

Your sciatica flares up when 1 of the 5 sciatic nerve roots in your lower back is compressed or irritated.

  1. Sleeping with your knees elevated may alleviate your symptoms by minimizing the pressure your lumbar discs place on your nerve roots.
  2. Slide a pillow between your bed and your knees for support.
  3. Slowly add additional pillows until you find a comfortable knee position.
  4. If you are a side sleeper, bend your top knee and pull it towards your head.
  5. Prop your knee with two to three pillows, so your hips are squared while you sleep.

Bottom Line

Apart from your sleeping position, an adjustable bed is your best choice when trying to find a solution for sciatica. With this type of bed, the upper and lower portions of the bed can be raised and lowered in a customized fashion (typically powered by a remote control). There are many advantages to an adjustable bed, including the ability to easily raise and lower portions of the bed throughout the night. Adjustable beds are available at a variety of price points and designs.

Natural Form®

Therapeutic Mattresses

Trying to find the right mattress for Sciatica Pain Relief? Take a look at our therapeutic mattress collection below.

Natural Form®

Therapeutic Mattresses

Trying to find the right mattress for Sciatica Pain Relief? Take a look at our mattress collection below

Frequently asked questions

What type of mattress is best for sciatica?

The best type of mattress for sciatica pain relief is air, memory foam, or latex mattresses.  Any type of spring/coil mattress you should stay away from.

What are the best sleep position for sciatica?

Your sciatica flares up when 1 of the 5 sciatic nerve roots in your lower back is compressed or irritated.

  1. Sleeping with your knees elevated may alleviate your symptoms by minimizing the pressure your lumbar discs place on your nerve roots.
  2. Slide a pillow between your bed and your knees for support.
  3. Slowly add additional pillows until you find a comfortable knee position.
  4. If you are a side sleeper, bend your top knee and pull it towards your head.
  5. Prop your knee with two to three pillows, so your hips are squared while you sleep.
What to look for in a mattress if you have sciatica?

Back pain manifests in a variety of ways, but a common factor is that certain positions and movements can exacerbate or alleviate it. Some people have pain that worsens when standing. Others experience it when they bend or straighten. Some have leg pain that comes with it, or muscle stiffness, making it even harder to sleep.

A new mattress, catering to your specific needs, may be crucial to achieving a good night’s sleep. Old, worn down mattresses may only cause more discomfort, while mattresses that are either too firm or too soft may make it impossible to find a position that gives your back some relief.

Besides the mattress, better positioning can also be achieved with adjustable beds, since a reclining position can be much more comfortable than lying horizontally for some people.

Can sciatica be caused by a bad mattress?

It's very unlikely that your mattress will be the cause of your sciatica, but a bad mattress can worsen symptoms and lead to more issues.