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April 30, 2024

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How to sleep with sciatica and relieve pain while resting

How to sleep with sciatica and relieve pain while resting

Sciatica is a painful problem that affects the lower back and extends to the back of the thigh, often radiating down to the foot. It is caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which can result from hernias, degenerative disc disease, being overweight, lifting heavy loads or a sedentary lifestyle. For those with sciatica, sleeping can be a challenge, as intense pain can lead to insomnia and sleep disruptions. In this article, you will find some tips on how to relieve the pain of sciatica during nighttime rest and choose the best positions for sleeping.

What is sciatica and why does it occur?

The sciatic nerve is the longest in the human body. It starts at the bottom of the spine, crosses the buttock and runs down the back of the legs. Sciatica is the inflammation of this nerve, often caused by compression, irritation or damage to the nerve itself. 

The most common causes of pressure on the sciatic nerve are herniated discs, bone spurs or spinal narrowings. Other risk factors include advancing age, overweight, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle. It’s easy to understand, then, why it’s such a widespread condition in our society. 

Sciatica causes severe pain in the lower back, but may also radiate to the buttock and leg, sometimes causing numbness, tingling or weakness in the affected leg.

Is it good to stay in bed with sciatica? 

When the pain is very acute, our instinct tells us to take complete rest. While at first staying in bed might seem an effective solution to reduce the pain of sciatica, one soon realises how counterproductive this strategy is. Staying in bed for prolonged periods can slow down healing and recovery, as well as cause discomfort in other areas of the body.

That’s why, during the day, it’s much better to keep moving and carry out normal activities, but avoiding strenuous efforts or assuming postures that could worsen the symptoms. At night, however, it’s essential to ensure that sciatic pain doesn’t interfere with sleep and that the sleeping position doesn’t worsen the condition. 

But there is another reason why it is important to pay attention to how you sleep with sciatica: studies of people with chronic back pain indicate that poor sleep quality can intensify the perception of pain.

Best positions for sleeping with sciatica

Best positions for sleeping with sciatica

The positions you take during sleep can greatly affect the perception of pain. Here are the ones that can help relieve sciatic pain:

Sleeping with Raised Knees

Sleeping on your back with your knees raised is one of the most recommended positions for relieving sciatica pain. This position reduces pressure on the lumbar area and can help maintain spine alignment. You can use a pillow under your knees to maintain this position overnight. If necessary, add a pillow under the lower back for additional support.

Sleeping on the Side

Sleeping on your side is another popular option for those with sciatica. However, it’s important to sleep on the opposite side from where you feel pain. Placing a firm pillow (https://www.mollyflex.com/product/knee-pad/) between the knees can help maintain proper alignment of the hips and pelvis. This reduces pressure on the sciatic nerve and can relieve pain. Another pillow behind your back can prevent you from rolling over during the night.

Sleeping in the Fetal Position

This position is similar to sleeping on your side, but with your knees curled up towards your chest. This posture can help widen the spaces in the spine, reducing pressure on the sciatic nerve. For those suffering from a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, this position can offer considerable relief.

Sleeping in the Supine Position

Sleeping on the back with your belly up is comfortable for many people. However, this position can cause excessive curvature in the lumbar area, increasing pressure on the spine. To avoid this, place one or more pillows under your knees. This will help maintain a natural position and reduce pain.

Positions to Avoid

Sleeping on your belly is generally not recommended for those suffering from sciatica. This position flattens the natural curvature of the spine and may increase pressure on the sciatic nerve. If you’re used to sleeping on your belly, try using a pillow below your pelvis and lower abdomen to improve spine alignment. To avoid neck discomfort, use a very low pillow or try to sleep without it. 

Other tips for sleeping with sciatica 

Sleeping in the right position may not be enough to alleviate pain and ensure you have a peaceful and restful sleep. There are a few other small things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep: 

  • Choose a quality mattress – such as the models offered by Mollyflex – that adequately supports the back, shoulders and neck, and helps to maintain a correct posture of the spinal column, without exerting excessive pressure on the most delicate points. A good mattress should fit your needs perfectly, without being too firm or too soft. 

Consider that mattresses, over time, lose their original functionality and shape: if your mattress is over 10 years old or has obvious signs of wear, it is time to replace it. In this way, you will avoid the formation of hollows or deformations of the mattress that could damage the spine and cause further inflammation of the sciatic nerve. 

  • Use extra pillows, or special sciatica pillows, to reduce pressure on the lumbar area and the sciatic nerve, and thus relieve pain. The head and neck should also be adequately supported with a comfortable pillow, neither too high nor too low, that is able to give the body and spine a natural and neutral position. 

Anti-pressure memory foam pillows, such as the Memory Moonlight model, are perfect for those suffering from inflammation of the sciatic nerve because they promote relaxation of the spine; 

  • Try to relax and stretch your muscles before going to bed. To relieve the pain of sciatica you can try, for example, a nice hot bath, which stimulates the release of endorphins, thus promoting the relaxation of the muscles of the back and legs, but also of the mind and the whole body. 

Stretching exercises before going to bed can also be helpful to relax the muscles and reduce pain. Stretching muscles and mild exercise can certainly help and make it easier to fall asleep if you experience pain in your lower back. 

  • Limit the use of alcohol and caffeine because they can increase the feeling of pain and cause insomnia problems. 

Sleeping with sciatica can be a challenge, but with the right positions and a proper mattress, you can relieve pain and improve the quality of sleep. Remember that sleep is essential for the recovery of the body and mind so, if the pain persists, consult a doctor for further advice and treatment.

If you need further advice on finding the right mattress for sciatica or the most suitable sleep accessories for your needs, please do not hesitate to contact us! Our staff are always available to assist you in finding the best solutions and ensuring you a healthy and rejuvenating sleep.