Have you noticed that your sciatic nerve pain is worse when you’re in bed, and it’s first thing in the morning? If so, you’re not alone. Many sciatica sufferers experience their most intense pain at these times.
How you sleep—and what you sleep on—can irritate the sciatic nerve. In this article, we’re going to reveal the right way to sleep for pain relief, including the best mattresses for a restful night and pain-free morning.
Here at Mattress Advisor, we understand the importance of a good night’s sleep. And choosing the right mattress for your needs can spell the difference between peaceful nights and energetic mornings and frustration and fatigue. That’s why we’ve spent over 1,200 hours testing and evaluating hundreds of mattresses.
By rating mattresses on factors related to performance, convenience, function, and the brand’s social responsibility, we help our readers find their dream bed.
Learn more about our testing process.
I am finally waking up without back pain for the first time in years.”Carolyn
The Casper Wave hybrid mattress is one of our highest-scoring luxury hybrid mattresses. Its layers of pressure-relieving memory foam, contouring latex, and supportive coils combine for the ultimate in pain relief.
When you lie on the Wave hybrid, your pressure points will feel cushioned, and you’ll be supported in all the right areas. It’s these properties that earned the Wave top marks in spine alignment at our in-house testing facility—and a healthy spine means less pressure on your sciatic nerve.
One attribute that sets the Wave hybrid apart is its zoned support foam. With softer foam underneath the shoulders and flexible support at the hips, its ergonomic design works well for both back sleepers and side sleepers (the two best sleep positions for people with sciatica).
For people with pain, the key is finding a mattress that not only lessens pain, but improves sleep quality. When you sleep soundly, you’re less likely to be unable to fall back asleep if you experience symptoms. The Wave sleeps cool, is incredibly easy to move around on, and is great at motion isolation. This all comes together to help you achieve restful sleep.
Read our full Casper Wave Hybrid mattress review.
Best mattress we ever owned. Worth every penny!”Ben T.
It’s critical to consider body weight when buying a new mattress. People who weigh more than 230 pounds need a mattress that’s incredibly supportive. This ensures limited sagging as well as enhanced longevity.
Read More: Best Mattresses for Heavy People
But for those who have sciatica, ample support isn’t enough. You need a mattress with comfort layers designed to dissipate pressure without sagging. The Saatva HD mattress excels at delivering the combination of contouring and support that heavier people with sciatic nerve pain require.
Beneath an ultra-soft pillow top you’ll find 5-zoned Talalay latex. Latex is a material that hugs the curves without losing its push-back. And the zoned support ensures that you get support and give in all of the right places. Beneath latex and contouring foam, the high-durability coil base provides the necessary support for optimal spine alignment.
Finally, the Saatva HD utilizes the technology and materials to keep you cool throughout the night. Breathable cotton, naturally-cool latex, and airy coils free trapped body heat so you can sleep well in any climate.
Read our full Saatva HD mattress review.
Good quality for a fabulous price.”Jordan L.
Medium firm: 5.5-6/10
The Nectar mattress is one of the best-selling bed-in-a-box memory foam mattresses. Their plush gel memory foam delivers the marshmallow-y feel and reliable support that you wouldn’t expect for a budget-friendly mattress.
Read More: Best Mattresses Under $1000
With four layers of proprietary foam designed for optimal pressure relief without sagging, the Nectar mattress is a great option for people with sciatica who like the memory foam feel. Its enveloping embrace eases pressure from areas like the hips and shoulders, fitting the needs of side sleepers and back sleepers who like some cushion.
The Nectar scored top points in three properties that make it excellent for couples who share the bed: motion transfer, edge support, and responsiveness. Good motion isolation means you and your partner are unlikely to wake one another at night. And edge support lets you spread out comfortably for extra space.
What sets Nectar apart from their competitors isn’t just their high-quality at a competitive price—every Nectar mattress comes with a 365-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty. This means that you have a full year to see if Nectar helps you sleep better. If it doesn’t, you can return it for a full refund. And if it does, the warranty covers your new mattress for as long as you own it.
Read our full Nectar mattress review.
Like getting massaged by an extra large marshmallow.”Kaye
Medium firm: 6/10
The Helix Midnight Luxe is a luxury hybrid mattress. Layers of foam cushion the body’s curves and pocket coils provide responsive support. This balance of softness and firmness can ease sciatica symptoms.
The zoned lumbar support is particularly impactful for side sleepers and heavyweight sleepers. Thanks to greater give at the shoulders, side sleepers won’t experience uncomfortable compression. And the added structure along the lumbar region stops heavier parts of the body from sinking too far, a common problem for those weighing more than 230 pounds.
We found the Helix Midnight Luxe to offer one of the coolest sleeping experiences for any mattress. With temperature-regulating phase change materials in the pillow top, cooling gel in the plush foam layer, and breathable innerspring coils, even the hottest sleepers can find relief on the Midnight Luxe.
Read our full Helix Midnight Luxe mattress review.
The Puffy Lux mattress is perfect for side sleepers (no more pain) and I also sleep on my back and it is very comfortable for that as well.”JR
Medium-soft to medium: 5.5 - 7
The Puffy Lux memory foam mattress is one of the best mattresses for side sleepers. Scoring a 9.5/10 for pressure relief at our in-house testing facility, the Puffy Lux melts pressure away from protruding areas like the hips and shoulders.
What makes the Puffy Lux exceptional for all side sleepers is its combination of an ultra-soft, low-density foam top layer paired with layers of contouring and supportive foam. The 3” Cooling Cloud gel-infused foam is so soft that lightweight sleepers gently sink in. The following layers bring contouring and support, keeping the body of heavier sleepers from sinking in too far.
But it’s not only its impressive pressure relief and support that sleepers can look forward to. The Puffy Lux is one of the highest scoring memory foam beds we’ve ever tested. It’s cool, responsive, durable, and supportive around the edges. It’s also great at keeping the spine properly aligned and dampening motion.
Read our full Puffy Lux mattress review.
It is MUCH more supportive than other memory foam mattresses I’ve had a chance to try.”Lindsay
Relaxed firm: 6/10; Firm: 8/10
The Loom & Leaf mattress is one of very few organic memory foam mattresses. While it’s on the pricier end of all-foam mattresses, it’s not nearly as expensive as the luxury brands it’s comfort and quality is often compared to (such as Temur-Pedic).
Thanks to its durable construction, the Loom & Leaf is one of the best memory foam beds for heavier sleepers. When you opt for the firm option, you won’t experience excessive give like with most memory foam beds. For side sleepers, the relaxed firm delivers an excellent balance of cushion and support, encouraging optimal body alignment.
The Loom & Leaf helps to relieve sciatica by supporting a neutral spine. In fact, it scored nearly perfect (9/10) in spine alignment during our in-house testing. Another perk is that it’s incredibly responsive. If you’re someone who needs to reposition often to find pain relief, responsiveness helps you do so without feeling stuck.
Read our full Loom & Leaf mattress review.
Sleepers with sciatica face two challenges: sleeping with pain and waking up in pain. The right mattress is one that encourages restful sleep while keeping the body properly aligned, relieving pressure at the sciatic nerve for better mornings. Finding the right mattress is a must for anyone struggling with sciatica.
In this guide, we’ll discuss
The best sleeping position for most people with sciatic nerve pain is on the back. When you sleep on your back, it’s easy to keep your body in a healthy, natural alignment.
Related: Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers
To find pain relief from sciatica symptoms, you want to keep your spine straight and your hips in line with one another. It can take practice and props to get into the best position for your body.
Place a long pillow, either a body pillow or king-size pillow, underneath your knees. Doing so promotes a neutral curve in your lower back without stress in your hips. Also, be sure to use a pillow that keeps your neck comfortable; too lofty or too flat a pillow can result in poor spinal alignment and pain.
For stomach sleepers or side sleepers who want to try sleeping on their back, try the tennis ball trick. To do so, wear loose shorts or pants with pockets and place a tennis ball in each. If you try to reposition, you’ll be stopped by the discomfort. Another strategy is to place a row of pillows, or a body pillow, along each side of your body.
While sleeping on your back is usually ideal for lower back pain and sciatica relief, the best sleep position can vary from one person to the next. It is possible to sleep on your side and maintain good body alignment.
Read More: Best Mattresses for Side Sleepers
To do so, you must use props to keep your hips stacked with one directly on top of the other. Ergonomic pillows designed for this purpose are your best bet, but a stack of 2 pillows or an extra-thick body pillow may do the trick.
Additionally, you want to sleep with the bottom leg extended and the top leg bent towards your chest. The fetal position, or any other curled up position, curves the lower back. And a curved lower spine often means a pinched sciatic nerve.
The biggest challenge with sleeping on your side is that most sciatica patients experience pain down one side of their body. Lying on that side often exacerbates pressure and pain. And for most side sleepers, it’s second-nature to switch sides when sleeping.
If you find yourself unintentionally sleeping on your bad side, either try sleeping on your back or using a one-sided tennis ball strategy. To do so, place a tennis ball in the pocket on the side that you don’t want to sleep on. Lying on that side will then be uncomfortable, encouraging you to sleep only on the side without pain.
The key to finding sciatica relief at night is to keep your body properly aligned. When your hips and spine are in a neutral, supported position, there is less pressure on the sciatic nerve.
There is no way to sleep on your stomach with healthy alignment of your neck, back, and hips. The neck is kinked to one side or the other, which can cause pain throughout the back. The hips, because they are heavy, drop into the mattress, pinching the lower back. Also, most stomach sleepers cock one leg at an angle to relieve pressure. In doing so, the hips cannot be in a straight line.
With rotation of the hips and pinching of the lower spine, the sciatic nerve can quickly become aggravated. This sleeping position is bad enough for body alignment that it can be the singular cause of sciatic nerve pain.
While training your body to sleep in a different position is challenging, it’s a must for stomach sleepers who experience sciatica and want to improve their symptoms.
We recommend for front sleepers to first try sleeping on their backs to relieve pain. Not only is this typically the best position for sciatica relief, but it’s also much easier to maintain this position throughout the night. Just don’t forget to place a pillow underneath your knees to encourage a healthy spinal position.
To get a good night’s sleep and wake up without pain, most sciatica patients will either need to sleep on their back or on their side. Because every person’s body is different, what works best for you may be different from what works for someone else.
Experiment with sleeping on your back and side until you find the position that relieves pain without interrupting sleep quality. But be sure to give any new position a prolonged trial-period of at least one week. It typically takes multiple nights to adjust to a new position.
Yes, sciatica can be caused by a bad mattress. Sciatica is often caused by poor posture during the night. Most of us spend anywhere from 6 to 9 hours in bed every day. Just as proper posture is important during the day, so is good body alignment during the night.
Both sleeping position and a bad mattress can lead to poor body alignment, and with it, sciatic nerve pain. This typically happens when the lower back is curved or the hips are poorly aligned. You want your spine to be supported in a neutral position, and your hips should be lined up in the same plane.
Typically, excess sagging caused by an overly soft, unsupportive mattress is the biggest mattress-specific contributor. Patients with any type of lower back pain need a supportive mattress to facilitate good body alignment throughout the night.
The best mattress firmness depends on your sleeping position and body weight. People with sciatica that’s worse at night or in the morning should work on finding the position that works best for them. This should be either on the side or on the back.
If you find pain relief on your back, you should opt for a medium-firm to firm mattress. These firmness options provide a good balance between support and cushion, helping to keep the body neutrally aligned.
For those who sleep on their sides, you ought to look for a mattress that delivers pressure relief without excess sagging. For most side sleepers with sciatica, a mattress with medium firmness is best. The comfort layers gently hug pressure points while the supportive core delivers contouring and support.
Next, you want to consider your body weight. Lightweight sleepers (<130 lbs.) don’t sink into a mattress as far as heavyweight sleepers (>230 lbs.) As a result, mattresses tend to feel firmer for light individuals and softer for plus-size sleepers. Typically:
Outside of choosing the right sleep position and mattress, there are other things that you can do to ease the discomfort. Here are a few tips from doctors and other sleep experts.
Related: Best Mattress for Back Pain
|Mattress||Superlative||Our Score (out of 10)|
|Casper Wave Hybrid||Editor’s Pick||9.3|
|Saatva HD||Best Mattress for Heavier People||8.5|
|Nectar||Best Mattress Under $1000||8.7|
|Helix Midnight Luxe||Best for Pressure Relief||8.9|
|Puffy Lux||Best Mattress for Side Sleepers||9.3|
|Loom & Leaf||Best Memory Foam Mattress||8.2|
Finding the right mattress is essential for those with sciatic nerve pain. When you sleep in the right position and you’re properly supported, you minimize pressure on your sciatic nerve.
Experiment to see whether sleeping on your back or side provides the greatest relief. Then, choose a mattress that fits your sleeping position and personal needs. In only a few nights, you may start to find relief.