Sleeping with sciatica

TIPS FOR SLEEPING WITH SCIATICA

(1) Enjoy a bath before bed

A warm bath can help you sleep by encouraging the release of pain-fighting endorphins and relaxing the muscles around your sciatic nerve roots. Some people with sciatica find it easier to fall asleep immediately after a bath, while others like to read a book after a bath. There is no right or wrong way but as part of practising good sleep hygiene try to follow the same schedule every night. The temperature of your water should be warm and pleasant and not hot.

If a nightly soak isn’t for you, there are another heat therapy options. Try applying a hot water bottle on your lower back.

(2) Elevate your knees

Sciatica flares up when one of five sciatic nerve roots in your lower back is compressed or irritated. Sleeping with your knees elevated may alleviate your symptoms by minimizing the pressure your lumbar discs place on your nerve roots.

  • Lie flat on your back. Keep your heels and buttocks in contact with the bed and bend your knees slightly towards the ceiling.
  • Slide a pillow between your bed and your knees for support. Slowly add additional pillow until find a comfortable knee position.
  • Don’t despair if you don’t find relief after a few days, no single sleep position works for everyone. Keep experimenting and you may find that a different position minimizes your sciatic pain and allows you to sleep through the night.

(3) Consider ditching your mattress

Some people find that sleeping on the floor relieves their sciatica symptoms – though experts disagree over the potential merits and drawbacks.

  • For sanitary reasons, avoid sleeping directly on the floor, instead try a yoga mat or large beach towel.
  • Don’t give up after one night – you may struggle to adjust to the firmness of the ground. Give it a week and if your symptoms remains unchanged or you still can’t sleep because you miss your mattress – retire your yoga mat or towel.
  • You might find that sleeping on a firm surface alleviated your sciatic pain but for a variety of reasons you may not like sleeping on the floor. It this is the case, consider purchasing a form mattress. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sciatica/

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