sleeping with sciatica

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What You Should Know About Sleeping with Sciatica Pain

Living with sciatica can be especially challenging, particularly when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. While there are not any clear-cut solutions for people experiencing sciatic nerve pain, Comprehensive Medical Care has provided some simple tips below that may help our patients find enough pain relief to sleep through the night. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about our treatment options for sciatica at our three convenient New Jersey locations.

What Is Sciatica? What Causes Sciatica Pain?

Your lower back has five sciatic nerve roots that extend through your hips, buttocks, and down the back of each leg. When one or more of these nerves become irritated, inflamed, or compressed, usually due to a herniated or ruptured intervertebral disc, it may cause pain, tenderness, or tingling sensations that radiate throughout your legs. Sciatica may affect men and women of all ages, but it’s most common among adults between the ages of 30 and 50. Women are likely to develop sciatica during pregnancy because of additional pressure placed on the sciatic nerve.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Sciatica?

Lower back pain that extends to your hips, buttocks, and legs is the most common symptom of sciatica. Some people may also experience numbness or tingling in their legs, making it difficult to stand or walk. This pain may worsen when you sit, cough, sneeze, or have a bowel movement. Sciatica symptoms may flare up suddenly and can last anywhere from days to weeks at a time. Sciatica pain usually only affects one side of the body. However, because the sciatic nerve is the largest nerve found in your body, it can cause widespread pain throughout your back and lower extremities.

The Worst Sleeping Positions for Those with Sciatica Pain

Many people with sciatica have difficulty sleeping at night. Lying in the wrong sleeping position can cause the pain to flare up and affect your sleeping habits. The worst sleeping positions for patients with sciatica pain include sleeping on your stomach and sleeping in the fetal position (unless you’re pregnant). Sleeping on your stomach hyperextends the lower back, putting excessive pressure on your joints and muscles. It also makes it difficult to maintain neutral/proper spine alignment. While a popular sleeping position, sleeping in the fetal position causes excessive curving at the spine that often leads to back and neck pain. This sleeping position makes it difficult to maintain neutral/proper spine alignment and is especially impractical for those who also experience pain caused by spinal arthritis.

The Best Sleeping Positions for Patients with Sciatica Pain

The best sleeping positions for patients with sciatica pain include sleeping on your side and sleeping on your back. Not only do these positions help prevent neck and back pain, but they also help reduce snoring, wrinkles, and the symptoms associated with acid reflux. Sleeping on your side also elongates the spine and helps keep it properly aligned, while sleeping on your back helps maintain optimal head, neck, and spine alignment. If you do sleep on your back, be sure to lie flat with your knees elevated slightly on a pillow. Depending on which side of your lower back you feel pain, try sleeping on the other side only. Arrange your pillows to prevent you from turning over or invest in a body pillow for additional support in your chosen sleeping position.

Additional Tips to Sleeping with Sciatica Pain: Catch Those Zzzs

Many of our patients find stretching before bed to help alleviate their sciatica pain. Sciatica exercises may help relax you. Here are some additional tips to help you sleep through sciatica pain:

  • Choose a firmer mattress that offers you extra lumbar support – or ditch the mattress altogether and try sleeping on the floor on a yoga mat instead
  • Sleep with your neck level to your spine, not above or below it
  • Take a warm bath before going to bed to help relax your muscles and trigger the release of pain-relieving endorphins
  • When sleeping on your back, minimize the amount of pressure placed on your sciatic nerve roots by elevating your knees with a pillow
  • Consider sleeping with a body pillow to keep your spine, hips, and pelvis aligned properly
  • Develop a nighttime routine that helps relax you – Turn off all electronic devices, including your phone and TV, to help you fall asleep quickly before you notice sciatic pain

Interested in Learning More About Sciatica Pain Treatments?

Don’t be afraid to try new things until you find the sciatica pain treatment that’s right for you. Contact Comprehensive Medical Care to learn more about potential treatments or to schedule an appointment with one of our sciatica specialists in New Jersey today!