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A Doctor’s Advice on How to Sleep with Sciatic Pain


Sciatica and/or Sciatic Nerve Pain can be a debilitating intruder in your day-to-day life. The nerve pain, to those who haven’t experienced it, can be like no other pain. A patient completing a numerical rating scale, NRS for short, will quite often indicate the pain to be in the 8-10 range, on a 10-number scale.

Now, think about trying to sleep with a pain rating that high, not easy for anyone. Sleep is one of the most beneficial ways our bodies recover from both the mental and physical dealings and exertions of the day. A good night’s rest, meaning good quality sleep, is vital to maintaining the day-to-day parts of our lives, but also our capacities to heal.

These are the topmost advice, as well as other respectful measures, for catching some useful and necessary shut-eye:

Sleeping posture/position: Bending and/or raising your knees will often increase the space between the discs, therefore, releasing some of the “pinching” on the sciatic nerve. Some people will do this on their back and some on their side. In either position, put something under (if you’re on your back) or between (if you’re on your side) your knees.

Sleeping platform: The surface you usually love to fall asleep on, may feel the worst when you have an attack of sciatic pain. More often than not, the denser (firm) the surface you sleep on, the better. Sleeping in the spare bedroom, or on a hard sofa may relieve some discomfort. A sizeable number of people choose to sleep on the floor with a thin
mat (yoga) or thin pad under them.

Keep yourself off your painful side: The majority of people roll and change positions while they are sleeping. This can bring about unwanted wakefulness whenever you roll onto your painful side. You could put a wedge pillow next to you to keep you from rolling over while you are sleeping. Another popular idea is to wear shorts with pockets to bed and put a softball in one pocket to prevent rolling over. I really like the ball in the pocket idea, as it takes up less space in the bed, or wherever you are sleeping.

Therapeutic Icing: Icing, even though it’s the most unpopular helpful hint, reduces inflammation (swelling). Any lessening of the swelling in your sore area can help reduce the intensity or quality of the pain. Most physicians recommend 20 minutes per hour of icing but check with your healthcare provider in case they have specific advice for you.

Stretching and Relaxing: Many sciatic stretches are available with a simple internet search, however, if it feels better when you stretch it, just don’t exceed your tolerance (don’t overdo it), because you certainly don’t want to injure yourself even more.

If your soreness, throbbing, and/or tingling doesn’t show any signs of letting up after a reasonable amount of time, your healthcare provider may recommend more progressive actions. Those actions could be spinal decompression, epidural injections, trigger point injections, or TENS unit therapies.

The suggestions above may not put an end to your sciatica for good. Hopefully, these ideas will get you through the grueling pain so you can get the sleep needed to help you get back on track.