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Sciatica: How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain

Lower Back January 5, 2021

If you’ve ever had to deal with back pain, or more specifically, lower back pain and sciatica – you know how terrible it can be. Unlike your arms or legs, it’s next to impossible to take the pressure off your back or lower back and spine; that is why so many people suffer from back pain that can leave them bedridden and incapable of living an ordinary life. 

We’ve all been there, tossing and turning throughout the night; not being able to sleep is one of the worst problems to have. It’s detrimental to your health and state of mind, which is why so many physicians and health experts stress the importance of a good nights’ rest

Now, imagine adding in such bad physical pain in your lower back, spine, and legs that sleeping is almost impossible. That is the case for many Americans. Many people don’t know how to sleep with lower back pain.

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is the condition in which the back and spine become compressed, the nerves running along/through the vertebrae, discs, muscles, and joints can become pinched, irritated, or damaged. 

The sciatic nerve is the largest and thickest nerve in the human body. It starts in the lower spine and runs down through the hip, buttocks, and legs. When this nerve gets pinched, typically from a herniated disc, it’s very painful and can make daily life extremely frustrating and difficult. Sciatica shoots electric-like pain through the base of your spine and down your legs. For anyone that has suffered from sciatica, they know how painful it can be. 

Recently, there has been a surge in people suffering from sciatica because of poor desk posture and a sedentary work lifestyle. 

In this blog, I’m going to suggest some tips for better sleeping while dealing with sciatica pain. 

Elevate Your Knees

Lots of people sleep on their backs. Sleeping on your back may be the most comfortable position you find to help with sciatica pain. What helps, even more is to put a pillow underneath your knees. 

When you elevate your knees with a body pillow or normal pillow, it helps shift the weight and pressure off your spine. You also won’t be able to unconsciously fidget-about too much, so you will remain in an uncompromised position for your back. 

Do Not Lay or Sleep Face Down on Your Stomach

As far as your back and neck are concerned, sleeping on your stomach is the least ideal position. There is a large amount of pressure exerted on your spinal column when you sleep face-down. The body forms a U-shape when sleeping on the stomach, causing the spine to dip in the center. This is bad for your spinal column and will aggravate your sciatica even more. 

If you MUST sleep face down, or do it unconsciously, try placing a large pillow under your stomach to relieve some of the pressure placed on your spine.  

Don’t Stick With a Bad Mattress

We all tend to try and stretch the lifespan of our mattresses too long. If you’re suffering from sciatica, don’t have blind faith in your mattress. You may need to purchase a different mattress to help with your back pain, or at the very least, experiment with other mattress types to see which kinds are more forgiving for your sciatica. 

You may be thinking, “How do I try out different mattresses!?”. I suggest taking note of the types of mattress that you sleep well on while traveling. You may discover the different firmness levels from mattresses at various hotels or friends’ guest houses while visiting. 

Many mattress companies and mattress dealers are offering trial periods that can last anywhere from 20-100 days! These types of trials are great for getting a complete understanding of how your body handles different mattresses for an extended time. 

What may work best for a back sleeper could be too firm for a side sleeper, etc. Try out as many mattresses as you need until you find the perfect mattress for your body and sleeping preferences. 

Stretching and Exercises

Your physical therapist can provide exercises to do before bed to alleviate pressure on the spine and get the muscles relaxed for a better rest. It’s really important to decrease the pressure on your lower spine and discs to relieve sciatica pain. Do not sit too long, and take incremental walks and stretches throughout the day. You will feel much better at night as a result. 
To learn more about sciatica treatment and back pain relief, please reach out.

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