Sciatica symptoms don’t take time off to accommodate your sleep schedule. The burning sensation in your calf or throbbing pain in your foot can jolt you awake at any hour if you’re lucky enough to fall asleep. To help you find relief and regain control of your sleep schedule, here are three tips for sleeping with sciatica:
Elevate your knees.
Your sciatica flares up when one of the sciatic nerve roots in your lower back is compressed or irritated. Sleeping with your knees elevated may alleviate your symptoms by minimizing your lumbar discs pressure on your nerve roots.
Lie flat on your back, keep your heels and buttocks in contact with the bed and bend your knees slightly towards the ceiling. Slide a pillow between your mattress and your knees for support. Slowly add additional pillows until you find a comfortable knee position. Don’t despair if you don’t find relief after a few days; no single sleep position works for everyone. Keep experimenting, and you may find that a different position minimizes your sciatic pain and allows you to sleep through the night.
Enjoy a bath before bed.
A warm bath can help you sleep by encouraging the release of pain-fighting endorphins and relaxing the muscles around your sciatic nerve roots. Some people with sciatica find it’s easiest to fall asleep immediately after a bath, while others like to read a book or knit after a soak. There is no right or wrong way, but you should try to follow the same schedule every night for practicing good sleep. The temperature of your water should be warm and pleasant, not hot. Hot water can make it difficult to fall asleep by raising your body temperature. If a nightly soak isn’t for you, there are plenty of other heat therapy options. Try applying a hot water bottle to your lower back or buttock or consider sleeping with an adhesive back wrap that provides continuous, low-level heat.
Consider ditching your mattress.
Some people find that sleeping on the floor relieves their sciatica symptoms, though experts disagree over the potential merits and drawbacks.
If the pain does not go away, we recommend seeing a physical therapist, massage therapist, or chiropractor – a synergetic approach the same as individual treatments can heal the condition and give you a pain-free life.