How to Sleep with Lower Back Pain and Sciatica

Lower back pain and sciatica are two of the most common conditions. Low back pain can be caused by a variety of factors, while sciatica is typically caused by a compressing of the sciatic nerve. With sciatica, you might experience shooting pains through your buttock and leg.

Sleeping with these conditions can be hard. Ongoing pain makes it difficult for your body to shut down. When you’re dealing with both sciatica and lower back pain, it might feel like you can’t relax. If you lie in certain sleeping positions, it might cause the nerves and muscles to flare with more pain.

Certain sleeping positions can help relieve the pain from these conditions. That’s especially important because low back pain and sciatica can be devastating for your sleep. In fact, more than half of people with these conditions say that they experience disturbances in their sleep.

You might need to experiment a little before you find the sleeping position that works best for you. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that your sleeping position should keep your spine naturally aligned. Certain sleeping positions can pull your spine out of alignment, which will increase your pain both while you sleep and the following day.

Try sleeping on your side to help remove pressure from the nerve. Assuming you only experience sciatica on one side of your body, lie with your injured leg on top of the other one. If you notice that the mattress and your waist have a gap between them, try using a pillow for support. This will help keep the middle of your spine from bending unnaturally.

Another tip is to put a pillow between the knees as you sleep. This allows the spine and pelvis to remain neutral instead of bending. In addition, doing this will keep your legs from moving throughout the night.

You might also try the fetal position for sleeping. This allows your spine to stretch and curve in a natural way, opening spaces between the vertebrae. If you are experiencing low back pain or sciatica as a result of a herniated disc, the fetal position is a great choice for relief.

With that said, some people do report that the fetal position has a negative effect on their pain levels. So you’ll need to try it for yourself to see whether it works for you.

Other Tips to Relieve Pain in Sleep

Your sleeping position is only part of the battle. There are other things you can do to help combat the pain in your back and legs.

One important thing is to avoid mattresses that are too soft. The softer a mattress is, the less support it offers your spine. Your weight will sink unevenly into the surface, which will cause your spine to be misaligned. Similarly, try not to use any mattress toppers that are too soft.

Researchers recommend that people with back pain look for medium and firm mattresses. Mattresses in this range are ideal for keeping your spine aligned and supporting you while you sleep. They perform better for your overall sleep quality than a very soft mattress will.

For those who do have soft mattresses, you might be able to address some of the problem without getting rid of the mattress entirely. One tip is to place a piece of plywood under the mattress, on top of the box spring. In addition, some people put their mattresses on the floor to sleep on a hard surface. Doing this for long periods of time may cause your mattress to accumulate mold, though.

If you often shift sleeping positions during the night, you might use a body pillow. This can keep you from rolling onto your stomach as you sleep.

Your pre-bedtime routine also makes a difference. Some people take warm baths prior to going to bed. Warm baths help to loosen the muscles and soothe pain, which might make it easier to sleep. You might also do stretches for low back pain and sciatica prior to going to bed. Just make sure that the stretches you choose are gentle enough not to hurt you.

Sleep hygiene matters as well. Like with anyone, you’ll get better sleep if you go to bed at the same time, wake up at around the same time, keep your room comfortable, and don’t have caffeine or alcohol immediately prior to bed.

If you’re dealing with sciatica and lower back pain, we can help you find the right treatment. Call 205-637-1363 today.

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