How to Sleep with Sciatica: Best Sleeping Positions & More

November 27, 2023 | Casper Editorial Team

Fact checked by Casper Labs Review In Progress

When it comes to sleeping with sciatica, sleep on your pain-free side with a pillow between your knees to support your spine and pelvis.

Anyone who’s dealt with the shooting pain and unpleasant sensations of sciatica knows how hard this condition can make it to get a good night’s sleep. However, there are steps you can take to minimize lower back pain and discomfort and make sure you get enough rest to heal, recover, and face the day feeling well-rested. 

From changing your sleeping position, investing in high-quality bed mattresses and sleep products, or starting a new bedtime routine, this article has the tips you need for sciatic nerve pain relief to help you reclaim your rest from sciatica. 

Understanding Sciatica

If you’re dealing with sciatica, you’re not alone. It’s an extremely common affliction. Some studies suggest that up to 40% of people will experience sciatica or related sciatic nerve pain at some point in their lives.1 Given such a high rate of occurrence in the population, it’s worthwhile to understand what exactly sciatica is and what contributes to it. 

What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a form of nerve pain that travels along the sciatic nerve from the lower back down through the buttock and into the back of the leg. While lower back pain is a common presentation, sciatica may also result in numbness or tingling in the area. While a major inconvenience, it is not itself a diagnosis. Sciatica usually results from one of a few conditions. 

Common Causes of Sciatica

The most common contributing cause of sciatica is a slipped (or herniated) spinal disc. In this condition, the cushiony tissue between the vertebrae bulges out from its casing. In some cases, this causes nerve compression leading to sciatica.

Other common causes are:

  • Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the space in the spinal canal2
  • Osteoarthritis, a condition which damages the spinal column2
  • Piriformis syndrome, a muscle spasm that can irritate the nearby sciatic nerve3
  • Other injuries to the lower back

Depending on which condition is causing your sciatic nerve pain, your ideal treatment plan may differ. Consult a doctor to figure out what approach is best for you. Regardless of the cause, there are certain lifestyle and product changes that can offer you relief. 

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

Nothing beats falling into bed after a long day or sleeping in on a Sunday morning, especially in an unbelievably luxurious Casper Comfy Bundle

Beyond the pure enjoyment factor, sleep is a powerful mechanism for your body to heal, recover, and prepare itself for another day of activity.4 Sciatica can interfere with this process, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, a healthy sleep schedule can help you recover from this condition, so be sure to learn how to fix your sleep schedule if you need to.

The Role of Sleep in Healing and Recovery

Research into the role of sleep in the body suggests that ample rest contributes to the body’s natural mechanisms for healing injury and fighting inflammation.4 In cases of sciatica caused by an injury or inflammation, sleep would understandably be a contributing factor in feeling better.

How Sciatica Affects Sleep Quality

If you’re dealing with sciatica, you know how difficult it can be to sleep with throbbing thighs or tingling tibias. The constant unpleasant sensations often cause sleep disturbances, but there is hope. Sleep experts have found that some sleeping positions can offer relief. In addition to sleep position, mattress firmness and bedtime routines can improve poor sleep quality, helping you get the sleep you need.

Best Sleeping Positions for Sciatica Nerve Pain Relief

Changing your sleeping position is one of the simplest and most effective ways to mitigate nighttime nerve pain from sciatica. If you’ve been tossing and turning wondering how to sleep with sciatica, we have the best sleeping position recommendations to help put those concerns to bed. 

Sleeping on Your Side

Sleeping on your side is generally considered the best sleeping position for sciatica. Sleep with the affected side of your body facing up to help reduce the pressure on the already-irritated nerve.5

Benefits of Using a Body Pillow

A contoured body pillow fits between your knees when sleeping on your side. The extra cushioning between your knees along with proper pillow positioning can relieve pressure on the pelvis.6

The Fetal Position Advantage

Some people, most notably those with sciatica caused by spinal stenosis, find that sleeping while leaning forward opens up the narrowed opening in the spinal column, helping to reduce nerve pain. To do this sleep position, try sleeping with your knees pulled up to your chest.

Sleeping on Your Back

Sleeping on your back, especially with support from strategically placed plush bed pillows, is another helpful solution to find some rest in the midst of a sciatica flare-up. 

Elevating the Knees for Comfort

One option is to place a pillow under your legs to elevate your knees. This alleviates pressure at its source, the lower back, and can provide a comfortable enough environment to get the coveted sleep you crave. 

Using a Pillow on the Lower Back

A large pillow under your lower back achieves a similar result as elevating the knees. Try the low loft pillow from Casper, a supportive and luxurious option. 

Why You Should Avoid Sleeping on Your Stomach

Is it bad to sleep on your stomach with sciatica? Sleeping on your stomach may be comfy, but it’s not the best for sciatica. Sleeping on your stomach can apply upward pressure on the piriformis muscle, which may contribute to further irritation of the already inflamed nerve. 

Tips to Enhance Comfort with Sciatica

If you’re dealing with sciatica, know that it tends to resolve on its own with conservative treatment and lifestyle changes after a few days or weeks. In fact, this is found to be the case in nearly 90% of sciatica cases.7 

In the meantime, though, there’s no need to languish in misery. You can take charge and make changes to enhance your comfort while your body does the healing work from within. For example, improving your sleeping posture and upgrading your sleep products are major changes you can make while adding warm baths or stretches into your weekly routine. 

Let’s take a closer look at how you can change up your mattress game to improve your sleep with sciatica. 

Investing in a Quality Mattress

We spend around one-third of our lives sleeping — or trying and failing to, due to all sorts of stressors like sciatica.1 Such a prominent part of the human experience naturally has the power to affect your health, happiness, and well-being. As such, the place you spend that time should be curated to your unique sleep needs. 

The Role of Mattress Firmness in Spinal Alignment

An excessively soft mattress can lead to unnatural curvature in the spine, resulting in increased pressure.2 As a result, most sciatica patients prefer medium-firm to firm mattresses for maximum support. Keep in mind that too-firm mattresses have a similar curving effect, so consider a medium-firm mattress like the Casper Original memory foam mattress or The Casper, a more affordable mattress for every budget.

How Casper Innovative Sleep Products Can Help

Here at Casper, we research sleep innovation tirelessly. With the best mattresses for back pain, a wide assortment of pillows, and bedding constructed with the most advanced technology and customer comfort in mind, you can rest assured knowing that you’re being supported. If your sleep set-up isn’t supporting your sciatica pain or recovery, Casper can lend the extra layer of support you need.

Pre-Bedtime Routines

The minutes before jumping under the covers matter as much as the mattress you’re resting upon. If your sciatic nerve pain flares up or remains prominent into the nighttime, try wind-down activities like stretches, meditation, or aromatherapy to help drift off to slumber. 

The Benefits of Stretching and Yoga

Yoga and gentle stretching have been shown to help relieve lower back pains of all kinds,8 so it may be effective for some people dealing with sciatica pain. 

Yoga is a low-impact way to exercise, which can be useful for sciatica patients who find other more intense activities too painful. In addition, yoga has been shown to, in some cases, improve posture, strengthen supporting muscle groups, and reduce muscle tension, all factors that can exacerbate sciatica pain.9

Similarly, certain stretches can release tension in the piriformis muscle, a common site of sciatic nerve entrapment. Standing and seated hamstring stretches, as well as a targeted piriformis stretch, are all options you can try.10

Taking a Warm Bath for Muscle Relaxation

Warm baths and hot compresses may also be an effective at-home remedy for sciatic pain. Gentle heat can improve blood flow to the affected region and relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve by relaxing tense muscles.7

Medications and Natural Remedies

Some cases of sciatica may call for over-the-counter pain relief. This can include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or a medication containing acetaminophen. Consult a doctor before introducing medications into your routine. 

Much like how warm baths can help relax muscles, a warm compress can achieve a soothing effect as well. Cold compresses and ice packs have also been shown to relieve inflammation,7 which can feel like a sigh of relief from sciatica pain. 

Casper: Your Partner in Achieving Restful Sleep

We all value our sleep. In stressful times and happy ones alike, our beds are our safe havens. When we’re feeling sick or dealing with irritating sciatica symptoms, we count on our beds to provide us comfort.

The difference here at Casper is our attention to customer experience and feedback. We tailor our products to serve the real human beings sleeping on our mattresses, our bedding, and our pillows. Whether you’re looking for support for a back injury or just seeking comfort, you can sleep easy knowing that Casper has you covered.


  1. Cleveland Clinic. Sciatica.
  2. Penn Medicine. Sciatica.
  3. Cedars Sinai. Piriformis Syndrome.
  4. Nature and Science of Sleep. Sleep, recovery, and metaregulation: explaining the benefits of sleep.
  5. Veritas Health. What to Look for in a Pillow if You Have Sciatica.
  6. Cleveland Clinic. How to Get Better Sleep with Sciatica Pain.
  7. Harvard Health Publishing. Sciatica Home Remedies and Self-Care.
  8. Journal of Orthopedics & Rheumatology. Yoga as a treatment for chronic low back pain: A systematic review of the literature.
  9. Center for Spine and Orthopedics. Yoga for Sciatica.
  10. Princeton Orthopaedic Associates. Sciatica Stretches to Heal Your Pain.
  11. Handbook of Clinical Neurology. We spend about one-third of our life either sleeping or attempting to do so.
  12. Biology. The Influence of Mattress Stiffness on Spinal Curvature and Intervertebral Disc Stress—An Experimental and Computational Study.