Best Mattresses for Sciatica of 2023
Nov 18th, 2022 •
Have you noticed that your sciatic nerve pain is worse when you wake up? If so, you’re not alone. Many people facing sciatica experience their most intense pain in bed, first thing in the morning.
How you sleep—and the mattress you sleep on—can irritate the sciatic nerve. In this guide, we examine the right way to sleep for pain relief and share our picks for the best mattresses for sciatica.
Our Best Mattresses for Sciatica of 2023
- Editor’s Pick — Casper Wave Hybrid
- Best Mattress for Heavier People — Saatva HD
- Best Mattress for Lifetime Warranty — Nectar
- Best for Side Sleepers — Helix Midnight Luxe
- Best Mattress for Back Sleepers — Puffy Lux Hybrid
- Best Memory Foam Mattress — Loom & Leaf
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.
Casper Wave Hybrid
- Those who sleep hot
- Sleepers with aches and pains
- Couples who share the bed
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 can help relieve pain the sensitive lower back area.
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 for Heavier People
- Plus-size sleepers
- Those who sleep hot
- Side and back sleepers
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.
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.
Best for Lifetime Warranty
- Budget-conscious consumers
- Side, back, and combination sleepers
- Couples who sleep together
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.
What sets Nectar apart from many 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.
With a design that includes a layer of gel-infused memory foam designed for optimal pressure relief, the Nectar mattress is a great option for people with sciatica who like the memory foam feel. The Nectar scores a solid 8.5/10 for pressure relief in Mattress Advisor testing, with an identical score for responsiveness. Its enveloping “hug” feel eases pressure from areas like the hips and shoulders, fitting the needs of side sleepers and back sleepers who like some cushion.
Another area where this mattress stands out is edge support (9/10 Mattress Advisor score). Good edge support lets you spread out comfortably and makes it easier to get into and out of bed without the edges sagging beneath you.
Helix Midnight Luxe
Best for Side Sleepers
- Side sleepers with shoulder or hip pain
- Plus-size sleepers
- Those who sleep hot
Medium firm: 6/10
The Helix Midnight Luxe is a luxury hybrid mattress with great potential benefits for side sleepers who suffer from sciatica. Layers of foam cushion the body’s curves and pocket coils provide responsive support. In Mattress Advisor testing, it performs very well for pressure relief (8.5/10) and spine alignment (9/10).
The zoned lumbar support is particularly impactful for side sleepers. Thanks to greater give at the shoulders, side sleepers are less likely to 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 also found the Helix Midnight Luxe to offer one of the coolest sleeping experiences for any mattress. The proof is in its Mattress Advisor testing score for cooling, a very chill 9.5/10. 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.
Puffy Lux Hybrid
Best for Back Sleepers
- Back sleepers
- Hot sleepers
- Sleepers who like medium firmness
Medium-Firm - 6/10
The Puffy Lux Hybrid mattress has several qualities that can appeal to people who sleep on their backs, including back sleepers who suffer from sciatica. The first is its medium firmness, which rates a 6/10 on the mattress firmness scale. It’s generally a sweet spot for back sleepers, who need more firmness than side sleepers but less firmness than stomach sleepers.
The Puffy Lux Hybrid also has an 8/10 Mattress Advisor score for spine alignment, the performance category that measures how well the mattress keeps your spine in a pressure-reducing neutral position. The foam-innerspring design helps prevent sleepers from sinking too far into the foam layers.
Related: Best Mattresses for Back Sleepers
An 8/10 cooling score also makes this hybrid a solid choice for hot sleepers. The design includes the 1.5″ Cooling Cloud Foam Layer, with gel-infused memory foam, and the heat-resistant 2″ Climate Comfort Memory Foam layer.
Puffy offers a 101-night sleep trial and a lifetime mattress warranty. The company also boasts some of the best customer ratings in the industry.
Read our full Puffy Lux Hybrid mattress review.
Loom & Leaf
Best Memory Foam Mattress
- Side and combination sleepers
- Plus-size sleepers
- Eco-conscious consumers
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).
Related: Best Natural Organic Mattresses
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.
How to Choose the Right Mattress for Sciatica
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:
- Memory Foam: Memory foam is a particularly good choice for side sleepers with sciatica. An all-foam bed cushions the curves, relieving pain at pressure points and supporting proper body alignment.
- Latex: Latex mattresses are one of the best types of beds for people with sciatica. Latex foam is cool, responsive, and supportive, all while very gently cushioning the body.
- Pillow Top: A pillow top can be a good choice for back sleepers who like a soft yet firm sleeping experience. Because pillow top mattresses have a supportive core of springy coils, they deliver the reliable support that back sleepers need.
- Hybrid: Hybrid mattresses are an excellent option for people with sciatica. Thanks to varying comfort layers atop responsive, springy support coils, hybrids come in various firmness levels that work for all sleeping positions. With a customizable balance of cushion and support, you can find the feel that best serves your needs.
- Innerspring: Innerspring mattresses are a solid option for back sleepers who want an extra-firm mattress. For some sleepers, the firmer to mattress, the greater the pain relief. For these people, an innerspring mattress is an affordable, reliable choice.
Back Sleeper – Recommended
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.
Side Sleeper – Recommended
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.
Stomach Sleeper – Not Recommended
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.
Finding the Best 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.
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.
- Take a warm bath before bed: The warmth of a bath relaxes and soothes sore muscles, helping to melt away tension and pain. The warmth shortly before bed (around 30-60 minutes before you want to be asleep) releases brain chemicals that help you fall drift off.
- Lightly stretch before and after sleep: Stretches help to relieve stress at problem areas. Check out stretches for sciatic pain online or work with a physical therapist for a personalized routine.
- Practice proper sleep hygiene: Not getting enough sleep is shown to exacerbate chronic pain symptoms. Practice good sleep hygiene to increase your chances of sleeping well, such as limiting alcohol, caffeine, and TV before bedtime.
- Talk to your doctor: If you find sciatica symptoms rob you of sleep or inhibit your quality of life, speak to your doctor or a physical therapist. Your sciatic pain may be a symptom of an underlying condition or injury, such as diabetes, a bone spur, or spinal stenosis. They may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or other treatments to help you on the road to recovery.
- Try an adjustable bed frame: Adjustable frames allow you to independently incline your upper and lower body. For many sleepers, sleeping in a position that’s not fully flat can relieve stress on the back and hips, easing nerve pain.
Check out our top picks for the best mattresses for back pain.
A Closer Look at Our Selection Process
In choosing our best mattresses for people with sciatica, we focused on each product’s Mattress Advisor score in the key categories of pressure relief, spine alignment, and responsiveness. Here’s a look at how our picks stack up:
|MATTRESS||AVERAGE (OUT OF 10) FOR PRESSURE RELIEF, SPINE ALIGNMENT, AND RESPONSIVENESS|
|Casper Wave Hybrid||8.9|
|Helix Midnight Luxe||8.8|
|Puffy Lux Hybrid||7.6|
|Loom & Leaf||8.0|
Note: The testing categories we focus on in this chart don’t reflect overall performance. Depending on your needs and preferences, you might put more or less value on certain qualities.
Best Mattresses for Sciatica FAQs
Can a new mattress cause sciatica?
According to Dr. Ben Kersenbrock, DC, “sciatica can come from sleeping on a new mattress if that mattress is either too stiff or too soft. In general, a person should be sleeping on a slightly stiffer mattress to allow the body to completely stretch out. A mattress that is too soft doesn’t allow that.” So a new mattress can come from a too firm or too soft mattress. It’s important to make sure that you can stretch out comfortably without sinking or without too much pressure being applied to your lower back or hips.
It’s true that if you experience new pain upon trying out a new mattress, the mattress could be to blame. Your body needs time to adjust to any new mattress. For the first month or so, it’s tough to know whether your body is just adjusting or if this isn’t the right mattress for you.
Sciatica is caused by irritation or pinching of the sciatic nerve, so ensure you’re properly supporting your body so that your spine is in alignment. Use pillows between your legs or under your knees, as needed. A little discomfort when sleeping on a new mattress doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a good mattress for you. Keep an eye on your trial period and make arrangements to return your mattress within this timeframe if your pain does not resolve. But try to be patient as your body adjusts to this change.
Does a firm mattress help sciatica?
A firm mattress can help sciatica for back sleepers and heavier folks. Firm mattresses are great because they support proper spinal alignment, especially for heavier sleepers. What is most comfortable varies widely between people with sciatica—if a firm mattress feels best to you, listen to your body.
Side sleepers most often need a medium to medium-firm mattress for sciatica relief. These firmness levels allow for more pressure relief in the shoulders and hips, but prevent sinking into the mattress and ruining spinal alignment, which can happen with a very soft mattress. Side sleepers can achieve proper spinal alignment and minimize pain on a medium to medium-firm mattress. Medium is best for lighter sleepers, while medium-firm is best for heavier sleepers.
Sleeping on your stomach is a recipe for disaster when it comes to sciatica. But if this is something you can’t keep yourself from doing, a firm mattress provides some degree of spinal alignment by keeping your hips from sinking into the mattress.
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