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How to Sleep with Sciatica: Sleeping Positions and Tips

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Update: May 29, 2023
5 min read

Written by

Arun Das
Content Writer
How To Sleep With Sciatica

Sciatica is one of those sleep-killing diseases which troubles the body the most during the night. It’s often compared to a simple case of a backache, but the pain is far more severe. The pain of a pinched sciatic nerve radiates from the lower back down to one leg. Sciatica pain at night is worse; why? Sciatica pain when lying down hurts the most because it exerts more pressure on the sciatic nerve. 

Knowing how to sleep with sciatica is necessary because sciatic nerve pain relief requires regular treatment. This article explains how to help with sciatica pain at night, the best sleeping position for sciatica, and other helpful sleeping tips. 

What Is Sciatic Nerve Pain

The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the human body (its width is almost finger-thick). It starts from your spinal cord, descends to your hips or buttocks, and then continues down to each of your legs. What is sciatic nerve pain? Sciatic nerve pain is the pain that occurs due to an injury, irritation, inflammation, or compression of the sciatic nerve. It is known as sciatica. A herniated (slipped) disc in the lower back (spine) is the most frequent cause of sciatica. 

If proper treatment isn’t provided, it may progress from mild to severe. How to relieve sciatica pain in bed is the major question because peaceful sleeping with sciatica is impossible.

What Causes Sciatic Pain

The pinched or compressed nerves have various causes. However, there are also other significant reasons for sciatic nerve pain such as:

  • Overgrowth of a bone can compress the nerves near it, known as bone spurs.
  • The most common cause is disc herniation, when the disc between the vertebrae slips out.
  • Spinal stenosis, narrowing the spinal canal, puts pressure on both the spinal cord and the nerves.
  • Spondylolisthesis is a condition where one vertebra’s slipping over the other compresses the nerves near or in between.

Why Does Sciatica Get Worse at Night

Sciatic nerve pain in legs at night is unbearable. Not only in the legs but also in the lower back, buttocks, and the whole sciatic nerve area. People search at 2 A.M. with sleepy eyes, “Why does my sciatica hurt more at night?” How to get sciatic nerve pain relief at night? Sciatica pain is worse at night because:

  • Sciatica pain when lying down increases because of the pressure exerted on the sciatic nerve. Sleeping abnormally or on a soft mattress intensifies the pressure.
  • A few sleeping positions can exert pressure on the sciatic nerve, such as stomach sleeping.

What Are the Best Sleep Positions for Sciatica

Finding the best way to sleep with sciatica depends mainly on your preference and condition. The best sleeping positions to know how to relieve sciatica pain in bed are:

Sleeping On Your Side 

Sleeping on your side is one of the best sleeping positions for sciatica. This is because you can sleep on your side, which isn’t painful and prevents you from putting pressure on your spine and sciatic nerve. If the pain continues, consider placing a pillow under your waist for sciatic nerve pain relief. 

Sleeping with a Pillow between the Knees

Your pelvis and spine will remain neutral and straight as you sleep in this position. Additionally, it will stop you from turning or twisting your knees while trying to sleep in sciatica night pain. Lie down on your sleeping side and wedge a thin pillow between the knees for somewhat relieved sleeping with sciatica night pain.

Sleeping In the Fetal Position

If your back pain (in sciatica) is the most severe, this is the best sleeping position for sciatica night pain. On your sleeping side, lie down with your knees close to your chest, similar to a fetal position. 

Sleeping on Your Back with a Pillow Under Your Knees

Sleeping on your back is the second best sleeping position for sciatica pain. This is due to the weight dispersing evenly across the back. It will lessen pain by preventing the body from bending or twisting. To minimise movements, place a pillow under your knees or your waist.

Try Sleeping on the Floor

If you have a soft mattress, try sleeping on the floor. Put a yoga mat on the floor and lie on your back for sciatic nerve pain relief at night.

Worst Sleep Position for Sciatica

Sleeping on your stomach is the worst sleeping position for sciatica. This is because, in this position, your body goes out of alignment and exerts extra pressure on your nerves, joints, and muscles. This position will only increase your sciatica nerve pain and may also lead to neck strain.

How to Sleep with Sciatica When Pregnant

Sciatica is a common symptom found in females during pregnancy. Don’t worry; you can still have a restful night’s sleep. According to doctors, sleeping on your side while pregnant is the best sleeping position for sciatica. Sleeping on your side is the best answer for how to sleep with sciatica pregnancy. Sleeping on the left side is preferable because it regulates optimal blood flow and lowers pressure on the liver and kidneys. 

Other Helpful Sleeping Tips for Sciatica

Here are other helpful sleeping tips for sciatic nerve pain relief:

  • Try using a medium-firm mattress to maintain your spinal alignment while sleeping with sciatica. 
  • Light exercises before bed will help relax your muscles and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Try using a body pillow. It will prevent your body from flipping into other sleep positions while sleeping.

When to See a Doctor

Sciatica isn’t an ordinary condition that will go away on its own. Proper medications and regular treatment is required for sciatic nerve pain relief. There are a few ways to reduce your pain; however, you should see a doctor as soon as possible to treat this disease. Your doctor may provide extra advice and tips for sciatic nerve pain relief at night. You’ll be able to sleep peacefully again with the proper care and treatment.


Sciatica is a disease that originates pain from your lower back to the legs. This article has explained well why sciatica pain at night is worse, why it hurts the most at night, and how to reduce it. Moreover, now you know the best way to sleep with sciatica and other helpful tips to treat this pain at night.


How do you relieve sciatic pain while sleeping?

To relieve sciatic pain while sleeping, use a medium-firm mattress and a large body pillow.

Why does sciatica pain get worse at night?

Sciatic nerve pain is worse at night because lying down exerts more pressure on the sciatic nerve. 

Can’t sleep because of sciatica pain?

Try another sleeping position for sciatic nerve pain relief at night: place a pillow between or under your knees or waist. 

What is the fastest way to cure sciatica?

Applying heat or ice therapy or taking painkillers is the fastest cure for sciatica. 

What relaxes the sciatic nerve?

Taking a warm bath or applying an ice pack will relax your muscles and reduce pain.

What triggers sciatica?

Twisting, bending, or moving your body quickly or lifting heavy objects can trigger sciatica.


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Written by

Arun Das
Content Writer
With a Master's Degree in Mass Communication and nearly two decades of professional expertise in crafting healthcare articles, he possesses a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field.

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