The Best Mattress for Sciatica and Lower Back Pain
(+ Tips for Getting Better Sleep with Sciatica)

If you’re spending the night tossing and turning on an uncomfortable mattress, desperately trying to find a position that doesn't trigger your sciatica, you’re not going to get a good night’s sleep. Sciatica pain occurs most intensely when pressure is applied anywhere along the sciatic nerve. To make matters worse, the sciatic nerve is thick (about as wide as your finger) and long (it runs from your hips down to the soles of your feet).

This post discusses how sleeping on a pressure-relieving mattress can go a long way in helping you rest without aggravating your sciatica. Plus, we also cover 3 additional tips for getting better sleep with sciatica.

A quick note: At Slumberland Furniture and Mattress showrooms, our team of dedicated sleep experts help customers get a better night's sleep by finding the right sleep solutions for them – whether that means addressing their sleeping hot concerns, issues with tossing and turning, or managing their sciatica pain. To find the closest Slumberland location nearest you for a personalized sleep solution, click here.

The Hunt for the Best Mattress for Sciatica

Finding the Best Mattress for Sciatica — The Tempur-Pedic Collection

There isn’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all solution for every customer who comes through the door. But when someone is having problems with their sciatica pain at night or just lower back pain in general, we like to have them try the Tempur-Pedic TEMPURPro Adapt series.

The TEMPUR-Pro Adapt series has four different mattresses in the lineup: a soft mattress, a medium mattress, a medium hybrid, and a firm.

The soft, medium, and firm options are all-foam mattresses, whereas the hybrid mattress has a coil support system in addition to its foam layers. The top layer in each model is a comfort layer made of highly adaptable TEMPUR® material. Beneath that layer is a pressure-relieving support layer that helps promote healthy spinal alignment while taking pressure off your lower back.

The medium hybrid has the same top comfort and support layers, but beneath the foam layers there is also an individually pocketed coil system that gives the mattress a more traditional bounce. (Side-note: Using coils in a mattress has some trade-offs, specifically increased motion transfer – where you may feel your partner move through the night. However, Tempur-Pedic hybrids use individually pocketed coils to eliminate that risk. Plus, TEMPUR foam is already known for increasing motion isolation, because the foam is dense enough that it absorbs the pressure it receives instead.)

Like most mattress brands, Tempur-Pedic makes their mattresses in different firmness levels but Tempur-Pedic mattresses are also rated by the adaptability of the foam. Adaptability means the more advanced TEMPUR-material within the mattress, the more the foam is going to customize its shape to your body; and then the more pressure relief you’re going to feel.

For example, a customer may try a Tempur-Pedic ProAdapt mattress and decide they need a more adaptive feel. In that case, they’ll respond better to the TEMPUR-LuxeAdapt, which is 30% more conforming.

There are other factors to consider when searching for the right mattress, such as whether the customer also needs a mattress designed to disperse body heat to help them sleep cool through the night – in which case we will recommend the Tempur-Pedic Breeze line, which can reduce your body temperature by up to 8 degrees.

Now we explain exactly what makes Tempur-Pedic our go-to recommendation for sciatica pain relief.

What Makes Tempurpedic Mattresses So Good for Sciatica?

Tempur-Pedic uses a proprietary material called TEMPUR-material. Think of this as advanced memory foam. Let’s explain what we mean by advanced memory foam.

Imagine that you pushed your hand into a memory foam mattress. The mattress will conform to your hand’s shape. And when you pull your hand away, your hand’s outline will remain for a few seconds before the mattress “bounces” back to its former shape. That’s the “memory” of memory foam working. The memory foam adapted to your shape and your body weight (how much pressure you pushed into the mattress).

TEMPUR-material is highly advanced because it adapts to your weight, shape, and your body's temperature. (That’s where the “Tempur” of Tempur-Pedic comes from.) This benefits you because TEMPUR-material is highly adaptable on a more molecular level. As you lay on a Tempur-Pedic mattress it starts contouring to your body more completely than a traditional memory foam mattress, providing you with exceptional comfort and support where you need it most.

Why? Because the TEMPUR-material is absorbing the pressure you're pushing into the bed.

Another way to think of this is astronauts in a space shuttle. Tempur-Pedic has an out-of-this-world origin story: its original advanced foam was made to work as the seat padding on space shuttles. The idea was that as an astronaut was hurtled through Earth's atmosphere, TEMPUR-material would absorb the G-forces being applied to their body.

Similarly, your sciatica nerve is less likely to flare up when you’re lying on a Tempur-Pedic because the TEMPUR-material is adapting perfectly to your weight and shape and is alleviating the pressure you’d normally feel when lying on more traditional innerspring mattresses or memory foam mattresses.

With Tempur-Pedic, both pressure and time are on your side. The longer you have a Tempur-Pedic, the more your mattress adapts to your needs, providing unparalleled comfort and support.

Elevate Your Sleeping Experience with an Adjustable Base

An adjustable bed can help people suffering from sciatica get better sleep

A good mattress works by taking pressure off of your body and providing you with comfort and back support.

But even the best mattress needs help fighting gravity.

That’s why we recommend you pair your Tempur-Pedic mattress with a lifestyle adjustable base.

A lifestyle adjustable base has many benefits (such as reducing snoring, helping with acid reflux, letting you watch movies or read comfortably in bed, and even making it easier to work from bed), and for sleepers with sciatica nerve issues, the adjustable base works best when put into the zero-gravity position.

The zero-gravity position is when you sleep with your legs elevated above your hips, and your head elevated just a little above your heart. It's the shape your body naturally forms when it's weightless.

Sleeping in a zero-gravity position is great for sciatica because by raising your legs above your hips, you’re taking almost all of the pressure off your lower back.

A Tempur-Pedic adjustable bed remote comes with a custom preset zero-gravity button. Once you get in bed, you can hit the Zero-Gravity button once, and the adjustable bed moves into the correct position*.

Of course, you can adjust the exact position of your lifestyle base as needed. Simply hold the up or down buttons and then let go when you’ve found the most comfortable position for you.

Now that we’ve discussed the best mattress for sciatica (and how an adjustable base can significantly reduce the amount of pressure you feel in your lower back) let’s look at some other things you can start doing today to reduce the risk of triggering your sciatica at night.

3 Tips for Sleeping With Sciatica

A quick disclaimer: Sciatica is a medical condition, and if you think you're experiencing sciatic pain, we recommend you seek out the medical advice of a licensed healthcare provider. Below we list three helpful tips that may help you sleep better at night but, again, they are not a replacement for a doctor's visit.

1. Take a Warm Bath Before Going to Bed

Tightness in the lower back can exacerbate your sciatica pain. A warm bath can relax the muscles around your sciatic nerve roots.

Similarly, you can also stretch before bed to relax any tense muscles. To prepare for a good night’s sleep, spend some time before bed doing stretching exercises designed to help with sciatica.

Neither taking a warm bath nor stretching before bed will be enough of a solution to help keep your sciatica from flaring up for a consistent 8-9 hours.

For more permanent solutions for treating your sciatica symptoms at night, look at the benefit of changing your sleep position and elevating your legs.

2. Elevate Your Legs While You Sleep

As mentioned above, elevating your legs helps take the pressure off your lower back. You can feel this immediately if you get into bed and put two or three pillows beneath your knees.

There are specially made wedge pillows that are sturdier and more rigid than the pillows you rest your head on. If you’re using softer down pillows, you may not get enough height to really benefit your lower back. Plus, it’s easy for you to kick your pillows off your bed in the middle of the night.

An easy way to sleep with your knees elevated is to put your mattress on a lifestyle adjustable base. These mechanical bases can lift up your legs, back, and head. By using an adjustable base to raise your legs, you're alleviating pressure on your lower back and also making it difficult to toss and turn through the night.

3. Change Your Sleep Position

Sleep positions are hard to change and what works and doesn't work will depend significantly on your mattress. For example, if you're on a firm mattress, sleeping on your side may not be a great option for you (because a firmer mattress is more likely to trigger pressure points in your shoulders and hips).

All other things being equal, back sleeping is the best sleeping position for relieving sciatica pain. This is because side sleeping can put more pressure on your lower back/lumbar region, as well as your thighs and knees.

Most people identify as side sleepers, but they may fall asleep on their back and then turn to their side throughout the night, which can cause a sciatica flare-up.

If you’re trying to sleep on your back, you can do a few things to help you adjust:

  1. Sleep on a thin pillow. If you’re used to side sleeping, chances are you’re on a thicker pillow with more cushioning. This worked for you when you were on your side because you had a gap to fill between your head and the mattress. But on your back, that gap is nearly non-existent, and that thick pillow will make you uncomfortable.
  2. Elevate your legs. Elevating your legs is highly beneficial for your sciatica – and it also helps you stay on your back throughout the night.
  3. Change your mattress. If your mattress is too soft, your hips may sink in too much when you’re on your back, causing you to switch to your side. If you’re looking for a general mattress firmness recommendation for back sleepers, we recommend a medium to medium-firm mattress.

If you’re a dedicated side sleeper – or if you’re one of the few where back sleeping makes your chronic pain worse – than there are a few things you can do to sleep more comfortably on your side, such as sleeping with a body pillow and making sure your head pillow is thick enough to fill the gap between your head and your mattress.

A body pillow is good for side sleeping because you can wrap your legs around the pillow which keeps your knees and legs relatively straight.

Stomach sleepers - a word of caution. Stomach sleeping is universally considered one of the worst sleeping positions, especially for those suffering from sciatic nerve pain. When you sleep on your stomach, you’re positioning your body against the natural curvature of your spine. Plus, because most beds are not made for stomach sleepers, your hips are going to sink in, which puts added pressure on your back.

If, for a medical or other significant reason, you must sleep on your stomach, we recommend you narrow your search to firmer mattresses. With a firmer mattress, your hips won’t sink in as much, greatly reducing how much pressure you're putting on your back.

Going Forward: Don’t Let Sciatica Ruin Your Night

Sciatica flares up when pressure is applied to your sciatic nerve – which means sciatica can become a major issue when you’re trying to sleep.

The best way to treat sciatica is to alleviate the pressure your body feels through the night. You can do this by raising up your legs (with an adjustable base or wedge pillows) and by changing your sleeping position.

Of course what you sleep on every night is just as important. If you’re on a mattress that doesn’t offer pressure relief, then you’re increasing your risk of aggravating your sciatica.

That’s why our team of sleep experts enjoy showing their customers the Tempur-Pedic mattresses.

These are supportive, quality mattresses that adapt to your weight, shape, and body temperature so they can better conform to your body and take the pressure off your hips, legs, and lower back. That makes for a more peaceful (and less painful!) night’s sleep.

Ready to improve your sleep?When you buy a Tempur-Pedic mattress through Slumberland, you get a 120-Night Comfort Guarantee and a 10-year warranty backed by Tempur-Pedic.

Interested in learning more about Tempur-Pedic in person? Visit one of our many Slumberland locations.