Once you learn the best sleeping position for sciatica, you will be able to sleep comfortably again! Sleeping positions for sciatica will vary depending on whether you prefer to sleep on your side or on your back.
The best way to sleep with sciatica; for side sleepers
If you are a side sleeper who sleeps without a side sleeper wedge, you are contributing to your sciatic or low back pain. When you lie on your side, the area from the bottom of your ribs to the top of your pelvis is unsupported. This causes your spine to bend. Resting in this position all night exacerbates sciatica, disc injuries, and other forms of back pain.
The solution to this is to sleep with a side sleeper wedge and leg separator pillow.
A side sleeper wedge:
- Supports the curve of your waist
- Maintains the alignment of your spine
- Allows your discs to rehydrate overnight
- Takes tension off of your nerves
A leg separator pillow is also essential for spinal health. Not just any leg separator pillow, but one that runs from your pubic bone to past your feet. It should also be supportive enough that it keeps your knee and foot at the same height as your hip.
You will notice, if you lie on your side without the correct pillow between your knees, the outside of your hip is higher than your knee, and your knee is higher than your ankle. This downward angle from your hip to your ankle pulls on your back and hips all night. This can lead to pain and stiffness in the morning. A leg separator pillow will eliminate the downward angle as well as the muscle tension so you wake up limber and ready to move.
The best way to sleep with sciatica; for back sleepers
If you sleep on your back, do not sleep flat with your legs straight. For most people, sleeping flat on your back causes your low back to arch. This leads to tight low back muscles, uncomfortable discs, and waking up with stiffness and pain. It can also aggravate sciatica.
For back sleepers, the best way to sleep with sciatic nerve pain is to sleep with a knee wedge pillow. The additional support under your legs eliminates the tension in your back and hips. This will relieve sciatic pain and allow you to sleep comfortably.
Now that you know the best sleeping position for sciatica for both side sleepers and back sleepers, you can get a good night’s rest no matter which way you like to sleep!
-Hillary Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy