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What is the Best Mattress for Sciatica?

December 02, 2021

What is the Best Mattress for Sciatica?

Sciatica is a kind of pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, running down one or both legs from the lower back. If you've been struggling with this kind of pain, then you know how difficult it is to sleep at night. And given that the choice of the mattress determines the quality of sleep to expect, this article discusses everything you need to know about choosing the best mattress for sciatica.

What are the Causes of Sciatica?

Sciatica is usually caused by different medical conditions. Examples include:

Herniated or Slipped Disk

A herniated or slipped disk is the most common cause of sciatica. According to statistics, at least 5 percent of people in the United States will suffer from this condition once in their lifetime. This condition occurs when pressure from vertebrae causes the center of the disk to herniate (bulge) through a weakness located in its outer wall. As a result, a herniated disk exerts pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Degenerative Disk Disease

Degenerative disk disease occurs when the disks between the spine and vertebrae wear down naturally. As a result, wearing down shortens the height of these dicks, leading to narrower passageways to the nerve.

This condition is also known as spinal stenosis.

Common symptoms of spinal stenosis include pain, numbness, weakened muscles, and lack of proper bladder or bowel control. The condition is pretty common among older adults.

Osteoarthritis

Also known as degenerative joint disease or DJD, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis.

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome is a medical condition that occurs when the piriformis muscle tightens or develops cramps. As a result, this condition exerts pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis occurs when one vertebra slips out of line with the one sitting above it. When this happens, it narrows the opening through which the nerve exits. As a result, the extended spinal bone pinches the sciatic nerve.

Other common causes of sciatica include:

  • Trauma injury affecting the lumbar spine and sciatic nerve
  • Lumbar spinal canal tumors, leading to the compression of the sciatic nerve
  • Cauda equina syndrome. It affects the cauda equina, a sack of nerve roots located at the lower end of the spinal cord.

Sciatica and Sleep Position

People who suffer from sciatica usually have problems sleeping in certain positions. However, there isn't any perfect sleeping position that works for everyone suffering from this condition.

But that also doesn't mean you should sleep through the pain all night; here are some sleeping positions that might work for you if you suffer from sciatica.

Side Sleeping

Side sleeping helps ease the pressure off your sciatic nerve, and may feel better than sleeping on your back. This option works best if you sleep on the side opposite the affected area (where you feel the pain).

If you prefer side sleeping, consider these additional tips:

Use a Pillow Between Your Knees

Sleeping with a pillow between your knees makes side sleeping even more comfortable. This sleeping position aligns your hips, and eases the pressure off the pelvis. It also prevents your knees from rubbing against each other, limiting the chances of waking up with pressure sores.

Place a Pillow Behind Your Lower Back

Placing a pillow behind your lower back adds more support to your spine and the entire back as you sleep. It also prevents you from rolling on your back while asleep. For best results, place one half of the pillow under your back, and the other half protruding away from your body.

The half of the pillow that sits under your back provides support for the back and spine. On the other hand, the protruding part of the pillow prevents you from rolling over while asleep.

Medical professionals also recommend the pillow option for older adults to prevent bedsores, especially when they cannot frequently turn at night, due to pain, age-related issues, or disability.

Curved Sleeping

Given that sciatica occurs due to pressure exerted on the sciatic nerve, sleeping while bending forward can help with pressure relief. This is because when you bend forward, the narrowed spaces in the spine open up, easing the pressure and pain caused by spinal stenosis.

For best results, consider the following sleeping tips:

  • Place a large wedge-shaped pillow under your head and upper back while sleeping;
  • Consider sleeping in an adjustable bed, or a recliner with your head elevated or;
  • Sleep on your side with your knees curled up (the fetal position).

Stomach Sleeping

Stomach sleeping also comes in handy for individuals suffering from sciatica. Although this sleeping position doesn't usually work for everyone because it forces the sleeper to turn their head to one side and arch their back, it works primarily for people who prefer arching their backs while sleeping.

Best Types of Mattresses for People with Sciatica

If you suffer from sciatica, choosing the right mattress for sciatica and mattress firmness to help ease your lower back pain is essential. Here are some examples of some of the best mattresses for sciatica.

Medium-Firm Mattresses

A medium-firm mattress for sciatica promotes proper spinal alignment throughout the night. On the contrary, when you opt for a mattress that's too firm, it won't allow the shoulders to sink sufficiently.

Similarly, a mattress that feels too soft can be uncomfortable for individuals suffering from sciatica. It allows the heavier pelvis to sag excessively, causing improper spinal alignment, and even more pain.

For best results, choose a mattress for sciatica with an extended money-back guarantee and a sleep trial period. This period grants you the opportunity to test drive the mattress before deciding whether it works for you.

Self-Adjustable Mattress

A self-adjustable mattress for sciatica allows you to control the firmness level to achieve a certain comfort level while sleeping. These custom inflatable mattresses are ideal for improved spinal alignment, sleep quality, and lower back pain relief.

With a self-adjustable bed, you don't need to worry about the firmness levels when shopping; you can always adjust it to suit your preferences. In fact, some adjustable mattresses come with multiple zones, offering users more options when adjusting their comfort levels.

A multi-zone mattress for sciatica is one that's designed to offer various support levels depending on the user's preferences. For example, if you're looking for stomach and lower back support, a multi-zone mattress can adjust to your preferences.

Memory Foam Mattress

A memory foam mattress also comes in handy for people with sciatica pain. It helps absorb pressure while reducing motion transfer. As a result, it absorbs and evenly distributes pressure from the spine to other parts of the mattress, leading to pressure relief.

Latex Mattresses

Like memory foam mattresses, latex mattresses are also great for pressure relief. Latex mattresses softly cradle different body parts, such as hips and shoulders, providing pressure relief and support near the joints and lower back. Besides, latex is elastic, making it ideal for heavier users.

Worst Types of Mattresses for People with Sciatica

Now that you know some of the best mattresses for sciatica, now let’s look at the worst. The truth is, not every mattress you find out there is ideal for pressure relief, especially for people suffering from sciatica pain. Some mattresses cause more harm than good for such individuals, which is why it's important to know what to buy and what to avoid, as discussed below.

Firm Mattresses

Firm mattresses are not only uncomfortable, but also harmful to individuals with lower back pain. This is because such mattresses don't usually conform to the sleeper's body weight, exerting pressure as a result. Remember, we mentioned earlier that sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is subjected to pressure.

For this reason, the last thing you want is a mattress that piles more pressure on the already-existing problem.

Spring Mattresses

Spring mattresses aren't the best mattresses for sciatica. This is because such mattresses contain metal, which could amplify the intensity of the sciatica pain, especially for heavier sleepers.

What to Consider When Buying the Best Mattress for Sciatica

Here are some important factors to consider when looking for the best mattress for sciatica.

Support

Support is the mattresses' ability to hold the body in place while sleeping. The ideal mattress should be able to stabilize and distribute your body weight as you sleep. You also need a mattress that supports your whole body without piling extra pressure, leading to more sciatica pain than comfort.

A mattress with proper support also helps the spine maintain its natural alignment, and provides pressure relief. And, when the spine is aligned correctly, it significantly reduces the chances of lower back pain.

Aside from proper spinal alignment and pressure relief, other benefits of a supportive mattress include:

  • Achieving complete sleep cycles
  • Avoiding muscle fatigue
  • Eliminating cognitive effects of sleep deprivation

Pressure Relief

Now that you know what causes sciatica, it makes perfect sense to avoid mattresses that pile more pressure on your body. Instead, look for a mattress that guarantees pressure relief and support, regardless of your body weight.

A pressure relief mattress is ideal for individuals with sciatica. It helps reduce the chances of developing bedsores, especially for older adults, or individuals with a disability who need help switching positions while sleeping.

Body Contouring

You also need a mattress that contours to your body's shape. This is one of the many reasons medium-firm mattresses are ideal for sciatica, because they absorb and adjust to the body's shape and weight. Besides, the mattress should have body-cradling capabilities for a peaceful night's sleep.

Spinal Alignment

Sciatica has everything to do with spinal alignment. For this reason, consider a mattress that offers proper spinal alignment, ensuring your spine rests in the right position as you sleep. Mattresses that don't provide proper spinal alignment risk aggravating sciatica-related problems, making it even more difficult for sleepers to enjoy their sleep.

Firmness

We know we sound like a broken record, but you should never underestimate the importance of considering the firmness levels of a mattress before purchasing. Unfortunately, there's a common misconception that a firm mattress will serve you for many more years than medium-firm ones.

On the contrary, such a mattress often comes with serious health-related problems, especially for people with lower back pain issues. This is because firm mattresses pile more pressure on the spine and other body parts, causing more harm than good.

Temperature Regulation

You need the kind of mattress that doesn't get you too hot when sleeping. For instance, while a memory foam mattress is ideal for contouring to your body's shape, it tends to trap heat.

In addition, a memory foam mattress doesn't usually permit airflow, leading to uncomfortable nights, especially in the summer.

On the other hand, latex and hybrid mattresses are great for temperature regulation. These mattresses consist of temperature regulating and naturally flame-resistant organic wool, keeping the body fresh and cool when sleeping.

Foundations

Did you know that the foundation of your mattress determines your comfort levels? If you suffer from sciatica, the last thing you want is a mattress foundation that adds more pressure on your lower back. Slatted wood foundations work great with latex mattresses because they support every inch of the mattress, and come with exceptional airflow.

However, the same cannot be said about traditional spring foundations - they aren’t the best for pressure relief. These foundations don't usually provide proper support for foam or latex mattresses; in fact, many manufacturers don't offer warranty protection for mattresses used on this type of foundation.

Sleep Trial

One night isn't enough to decide whether a particular mattress is ideal for your needs. This is why many mattress manufacturers provide lengthy sleep night trials, giving you the much-needed time to decide whether that particular mattress is what you need. For best results, opt for mattresses that provide lengthy sleep trials, and a favorable return policy.

Return Policy

Speaking of the return policy, it's advisable to choose a mattress manufacturer that makes it easier for you to return a mattress if you decide it doesn't meet your needs. It's especially important to read through their return policies before purchasing.

For example, some mattress companies will charge you a separate fee for returns while others won't. Additionally, you need to understand the dos and don'ts of returning a mattress after purchase, based on the company's policy.

As mentioned earlier, some mattress companies don't provide warranties for mattresses used on innerspring foundations, and that's something you need to keep in mind when planning to return a mattress.

A good mattress company should have a favorable return policy. If the return policy seems too unfavorable, you may as well avoid shopping with that company because the chances are they're trying to push sales, but don't have their customer's interests at heart.

What are the Best Sleeping Accessories for Sciatica?

A good mattress isn't enough for people suffering from sciatica; it's essential to add one or two sleeping accessories for the perfect night's sleep. Examples include:

Mattress Toppers

A mattress topper is a great sleep accessory if you need extra support, comfort, and a sense of luxury as you sleep. For example, the Eco Terra mattress topper comprises 100 percent latex and doesn't have synthetics, filters, or chemicals. In addition, it comes with a 5-year warranty, and free shipping all over the continental US.

Pillows

Pillows come in handy to improve comfort levels. As mentioned earlier, you can place a pillow between your knees if you're a side sleeper. This prevents pressure sores, and offers pressure relief.

You can also place a pillow under your lower back when you sleep to prevent yourself from rolling over while sleeping on the side. If you decide to sleep on your stomach, a pillow also offers support for your head and neck, regardless of the direction you choose to face.

What is the Best Mattress for Sciatica?

To sum up, latex mattresses are the best for sciatica. A memory foam mattress is also great, but it doesn't usually offer heat regulation, making it quite uncomfortable, especially during the summer. Besides; latex mattresses are great for pressure relief.

Should the Best Mattress for Sciatica be Firm or Soft?

A soft mattress isn't ideal for individuals struggling with sciatica because it causes their bodies to sink, throwing the spine out of proper alignment. On the other hand, firm mattresses don't usually contour to the sleeper's body and weight.

This exerts more pressure on the lower back and other body parts, leading to further complications. Therefore, for best results, choose a medium-firm latex mattress.

Can a Bad Mattress Cause Sciatica?

The chances of developing sciatica from sleeping on a bad mattress are quite low. However, if you're already suffering from sciatica, a bad mattress worsens the condition.

How can I Get Immediate Relief from Sciatica?

You can get immediate relief from sciatica by sleeping on the right mattress, preferably one that's made from latex. While this won't completely treat the condition, it'll help you feel much better. Remember to consult your doctor if the pain persists.

Sleep Tips for People with Sciatica

Consider the following sleep tips if you suffer from sciatica:

  • Invest in a great mattress, preferably a mattress made from latex and offers no motion transfer
  • Use sleep accessories, such as pillows and mattress toppers
  • Elevate your knees, and place a pillow in between them
  • Stretch before bed, and then take a bath
  • Sleep on your side or the fetal position for best results
  • Take your medications, if any
  • Develop a nighttime routine, such as staying away from your phone or TV while in bed
  • Sleep on a medium-firm mattress
  • Get enough sleep, preferably eight hours

Are Eco Terra Mattresses Good for Sciatica?

Yes, Eco Terra Mattresses are great for sciatica. Here's why:

  • Consist of 100 percent natural latex
  • No chemicals, polyurethane, or toxins
  • Certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Oeko-Tex
  • Come with a supportive, fabric-encased coil core, and a soft, breathable organic cotton cover with organic wool for the ultimate comfort
  • Provide firm edge-to-edge support to prevent users from rolling over
  • Improve airflow to prevent sleeping hot
  • Promote proper spinal alignment, which is especially important for sciatica

And that's not all - Eco Terra mattresses come with a 15-year warranty, including free shipping and returns in the United States. So, if you're looking for a mattress that sleeps cool, consists of 100 percent natural latex, and suits individuals with sciatica, Eco Terra Mattresses is the place to shop!

Patrick Gunther

Patrick is an accomplished writer. He has been in the retail mattress space for the past 11 years, and more specifically in the natural mattress niche. He blogs on the subjects of natural mattresses, sleep, health, fitness, and green living.



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