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Have you ever experienced lower back pain accompanied by shooting pain in one or both legs? Well, the bad news is that it just might be sciatic nerve pain. The good news is that we worked hard to find the top rated mattresses for sciatica, to help you fight or even prevent this irritating condition.
Sciatica is a well-known and well-documented disorder, and familiar to many, especially in the age group between 40 and 60 years of age. There are numerous causes, but the key problem lies in the herniated or degenerative disc that puts pressure on the root of the nerve.
We have prepared an in-depth overview of all the things that might help, including recommendations for a mattress that can help create a peaceful and pain-free night for you.
For more great overall beds, click here.
6 Top Rated Mattresses for Sciatica Pain
Zinus - Best in Support
In our opinion, the best mattress for sciatica is Zinus.
Sciatica sufferers are acquainted with the unnerving pain and don’t always know what can alleviate it. One of the best options is to pick a mattress with ideal support such as Zinus’ Ultima Comfort. With the conforming comfort it provides, you can easily find the most appropriate sleeping position, which is the number one problem for people with sciatica symptoms.
The manufacturer achieved this level of support by skillfully combining multiple layers. The top one is a 2-inch memory foam layer, under which there are another 2 inches of a pressure-relieving comfort foam layer. All of this sits on top of a 4-inch high-density support foam segment providing stability and an adequate level of firmness.
Another bonus, which might be relevant if you are an eco-friendly person, is the particular kind of foam used in Zinus’s products. It is called BioFoam, and it offers a significant portion of traditional petroleum replaced with natural plant oil, giving you a feeling of a fresh mattress all the time.
Linenspa - Best Pressure Relief
Linenspa promises you will wake up happy. This 5-inch bed is a combination of gel infusions and base foam that will relieve the pressure points, do wonders for your back, and give you a good night’s sleep you deserve.
The abovementioned 5 inches will be a great addition to your children’s or your guest room because this mattress is light and easy to maintain. It is far more than just memory foam: the top layer is ventilated and breathable, helps you sleep cool by preventing overheating. The thick base foam one provides unmatched support and appropriately supports any type of sleeping position, especially stomach and back sleepers.
Olee Sleep - Best Cooling
The main benefit of this model by Olee Sleep is that so many things have joined hands in trying to make you sleep cool and comfy. And they did a great job. The first and the most important segment is the 1.5-inch memory foam infused with I-gel, called Dura Cool, which efficiently protects you against those nasty heat pockets and eliminates the need to wake up all sweaty throughout the night.
The Duraflex foam layer provides elasticity and bounce and enables the body to find an appropriate position swiftly and easily. Its 1.5 inches make sure the mattress recovers quickly and comfortably. The 3.5 inches of convoluted foam adds breathability and, together with the bottom layer of high-density foam, offers unparalleled support.
All the materials are CertiPUR-US certified, which means no harmful substances, zero emissions, and improved durability. The company also has Bio Green Foam options and boasts Oeko-tex standards of quality.
View other top rated bed options for hot sleepers.
Nectar - Ideal for Any Position
There isn’t a bed to suit everyone’s needs, is there? Well, Nectar has managed to come up with a model to suit everyone’s favorite sleeping positions. This mattress combines many layers of foam into a masterpiece that all kinds of sleepers should adore.
First of all, the Tencel cooling cover helps you sleep fresh and is bed bug resistant. The trick is in the following two segments – firstly, a quilted gel memory foam one that contours perfectly to the body, and a plain gel memory one that relieves pressure and pain by distributing your weight evenly across the surface.
The crucial rebound and bounce lie in the adaptive foam layer that provides the support of a recovery foam. The support also comes from the bottom segment, which is a breathing base that gives you stability and breathability.
Layla Sleep - Best Flippable
First things first, this model by Layla Sleep offers nothing but the best quality when it comes to the materials and design. Its copper-infused layer can be found on both sides of this mattress, the only model to offer this functionality. These layers will ensure that heat is transferred rapidly as well as offer deep compression support. Copper will, naturally, be an obstacle when it comes to germs and microbes due to its well-known qualities.
This is a product that offers excellent ventilation because of its layer of convoluted foam, offering maximum airflow. But wait! The best part is yet to come – this mattress is flippable, which means that maintenance is easier and yes, there are two levels of firmness. On one side, it is medium soft, and on the other, it is firm. This means that everyone can find something to suit their needs.
Because of all this, the thermogel-infused cover does not sound like much, but it actually is a big deal. It helps you sleep cool, adding to the effect of its copper in the foam. Also, the packaging is extremely user-friendly, so you need not worry about the delivery and setup – it is a breeze!
Features to Look For When Buying a Mattress for Sciatica
Durability is an essential feature for a few reasons. First of all, you cannot count on the average lifespan of a mattress that is about seven years. The reason is that it gets spent, the materials within breaking down, and can suffer from sagging and overall lack of support, depending on the material used.
Another issue with sciatica sufferers is that they take longer to find an appropriate position. Coupled with the fact that some need to visit the bathroom more than usual during the night, it explains why beds lose their durability faster than the ones owned by people without such problems. One of your concerns should, therefore, certainly be how long the mattress will last, given the circumstances.
Sleepers with sciatica may not easily find a sleeping partner. This is in part due to their constant shifts in sleeping positions, trying to find the right one to spend the rest of the night in. For people sharing the bed (our top picks here), this can be a dreadful experience, being woken up so many times throughout the night.
Motion isolation is what you should be looking for in a mattress if you intend on sharing it. It will prevent the transfer of movement to other parts of the bed and improve your sleeping partner’s night considerably. Also, this feature typically means that the overall comfort of the bed is much higher than usual, so you will surely find a suitable position more easily yourself.
Remember, what you need as a sciatica patient is comfort above everything else. The firmness level is one of those features that simply cannot be ignored. That said, a lot depends on the weight of the sleeper (our suggestions for perfect beds for heavier people here) and their sleeping habits.
Firmness is usually expressed in numbers from 1 to 10 and sciatica will generally make you choose the softer bed models, ranging from 3 to 6. All this is, in reality, heavily dependent on the weight – the heavier you are, the deeper you sink – as well as the personal preference of the sleeper. Heavier individuals will be aiming to find a firmer bed (top picks here) to prevent this from happening while lighter ones might be satisfied with a softer model.
No matter what you go for, be aware that your condition might be alleviated by your bed conforming closely to the body. This will stop pressure points from occurring in the middle of the night, just as you have found the perfect and pain-free position. In people with sciatica, this can mean everything, reducing their anxiety of waking up in the morning in pain.
The thickness of the mattress is a vital matter because typically the thicker the bed, the better. What is especially important is how thick the comfort layer is, but the overall thickness is just as relevant.
You will be able to find a number of models offering a memory foam layer of between 3 and 5 inches, but unless the total inches in the bed is 10 or higher, don’t bother – it may be too thin for you as a sciatica sufferer. A thicker mattress might provide the support you are looking for in addition to the comfort of the top layers. It also depends on the quality of materials used, so some thinner bed models might be okay.
Less to No Noise
A sciatica patient WILL toss and turn, regardless of the quality of the bed. This is why it is vital to choose a model that does not produce much noise or keeps it at a reasonable level. The worst choice would be innerspring options, followed by hybrids and airbeds. On the other hand, depending on the bed frame, memory foam mattresses and latex are practically silent.
When it comes to relieving pressure points, there is nothing better than memory/adaptive foam. This type of material adapts to your contours and shapes itself around your body, providing comfort and relief. This is also true for latex mattresses (top picks here), the only difference being their price.
Why is adaptiveness so important? First of all, the spine gets aligned and cradled into its natural position, which helps alleviate the pain that comes with this condition. Also, pressure points, which practically means all the joints of the body, including the neck (check out top mattresses for neck pain pressure relief), are under a lot of tension in sciatica sufferers, so it is crucial to find a model that will efficiently relieve the pressure. Your best bet is one made of memory foam that includes exceptional support for those sensitive points.
Support and firmness usually go hand in hand, because the feeling of soft or firm actually originates from the lack of proper support or too much of it. A good mattress will be able to maintain a constant level of support throughout the night, keeping the surface even and level.
This kind of stability is important for all the familiar reasons that include aligning the spine and relieving pressure points. A word of advice – you should be looking for reliable base support, preferably made of high-density support foam or similar materials (check our suggestions of top rated orthopedic beds here). Although well ventilated, innerspring models are not recommended because of their tendency to sag more quickly than the HD ones. Also, their bouncy feel is not seen as beneficial to people with sciatica.
Other Factors to Consider For Sciatica Mattress Buyers
Is It Covered By a Warranty?
You can ask yourself this question only if you do not read the fine print. Most brands come with a warranty, which can span anywhere between 5 or 10 years to a lifetime. But what actually matters are the terms and conditions that apply.
The keyword here is the length of nonprorated and prorated coverage, the former being the one you should be paying attention to. During nonprorated coverage, the owner is not obliged to pay for the repairs or even replacement of the whole product. In some cases, the fees are minimal and are mostly related to the costs of delivery or transport.
The nonprorated coverage can last up to half of the length of the warranty, which is the ideal situation for you. After this comes the period of prorated coverage when you are supposed to pay a certain percentage of the price to get your repairs, replacements or sometimes even affordable upgrades. As time goes by, this percentage gets higher, so at one point it is not worth looking for repairs from the original manufacturer or distributor.
Does the Manufacturer Offer a Sleep Trial
Once again, read the fine print very carefully. Sleep trials are offered by almost all manufacturers on the market but under different conditions. In most cases, you will get at least 90 days to test the model, which is more than enough to see if it suits your sciatica and the associated sleeping habits.
It is not uncommon to find trials of up to 180 days. However, it is advisable to inspect the terms cautiously because the return fees in some cases are quite expensive. In addition to this, some brands will not accept returns with any kind of physical damage, no matter how small it might be. Read carefully and don’t spill anything on the mattress, and you should be just fine.
Know Your Budget
What most people are looking for is either a King or a Queen model, which is why the average price is around $1000. For this kind of money, you can get a standard quality hybrid mattress or a high-quality memory foam one. Decent memory/adaptive models can be found at an even lower price due to the fact that this segment of the market is very competitive.
It is also worth mentioning that shipping costs vary and depend on the distributor, whether it is a traditional or an online store. Most manufacturers will ship for free if you order via their websites or the websites of large distributors. We should note that this is not true if you live overseas or outside the contiguous US.
Know Your Thickness Preference
The preference when it comes to thickness is usually on the side of models that are at least 10 inches thick, or more. This is mainly due to the feeling of comfort that you have, especially because it usually means that the top layers are thick and comfortable enough. It also means that there is an adequate level of support.
Know Your Preferred Type of Mattress
Sciatica patients are familiar with the pros and cons of each type of mattress. Most people are looking for comfort above everything else, so innerspring beds and airbeds should best be avoided. Hybrids might be suitable for some people (top hybrid beds list here), depending on the combination of layers.
The number one choice for you could be a latex or a memory foam bed that will follow the shape of your body and relieve the pressure points. Among these, you might be better off if you find a multi-layered model that offers various benefits with each layer (latex hybrid mattress might be the perfect option).
Consider Other Person if You're Bed Sharing
Motion isolation is always a desirable feature, so you should bear that in mind while choosing a new mattress for yourself. The price tag might contain a higher number than usual, but remember that you are paying for at least a few years of comfortable sleep for your partner. Also, such models are typically more comfortable and provide better support.
Check out our list of perfect bed solutions for couples.
Sciatica Nerve Pain: Overview, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a condition, or more precisely, a set of symptoms that indicate that there is a problem in the lower part of the spine. The pain radiates down the sciatic nerve, so it can affect the hips and all parts of the leg. It is most commonly present on one side of the body.
In most cases, a spinal disc herniation presses on one of the nerve roots in the sacral or lumbar area of the spine. Diagnostically speaking, it is relatively easy to establish whether you are suffering from it, the straight-leg-raising test being sufficient in many patients.
In the beginning, the treatment typically consists of muscle relaxants and pain medication. It is advisable to continue normal activity throughout the day and find an appropriate bed and sleeping position during the night.
How Your Mattress can Help with Pain
It is generally recommended to adjust your mattress to your condition. In the case of sciatica, it should be a comfortable haven for your spine. This means a number of things such as:
- High level of comfort, which is essential if you want your body to sink into the bed and feel cradled. This can only be achieved if you find a model that will adjust to your contours and the shape of your body. Whether it is a few layers of memory foam or a whole structure made of it, you cannot go wrong.
- Adequate support, which is provided by base layers of high-density foam, keeps the spine in its natural position, which in turn alleviates the pain in the lower back (top mattresses picks).
- Additional pressure points pockets in the top layer, which keep you cozy during sleep.
What are the Causes?
Sciatica is a condition in which the sciatic nerve receives pressure, most commonly by a herniated disk in the spine or by a bone overgrowth on the vertebrae. In relatively rare cases, the nerve can be compressed by other things such as a tumor, during pregnancy or when damaged by a disease like diabetes. The principal causes can be classified as:
- Degenerative disc disease is the breakdown of discs that serve as cushions between the vertebrae. It is quite common and is considered hereditary. Specially designed beds for herniated discs may help deal with this condition.
- Lumbar spinal stenosis, which is the spinal canal narrowing in the lumbar or sacral areas, putting pressure on the nerve.
- Spondylolisthesis, which is a condition in which one vertebra actually slips forward over one of the neighboring ones.
- Pregnancy; although a temporary condition, it may seriously affect the quality of life for pregnant women.
- Muscle spasm in the back or buttocks, another temporary condition that is relatively easily managed.
Other things that may contribute to the back pain, but are not considered to be causes of sciatica are being overweight, lack of regular exercise, wearing inappropriate footwear, or spending night after night on a mattress that is too hard or too soft.
What are the Symptoms?
Pain that originates and spreads from your lower spine to your buttock and down the back or front of the leg is typical of sciatica. Patients are likely to sense the discomfort at any part of the nerve pathway. However, it mainly tends to follow a path from the lower portion of the back towards the back or front of your thigh and calf.
This kind of pain can vary drastically, from mild to medium and sharp; it can be felt as a burning sensation or agonizing pain. On occasions, patients can feel a kind of an electric shock or jolt. Coughing or sneezing can worsen it, and symptoms can be made worse by prolonged sitting. Typically, the condition affects only one side of the body.
Tingling, muscle weakness, and numbness in the leg or foot affected is also frequently reported. There may be a combination of pain and numbness in the same limb, only in different parts.
The symptoms of severe sciatica must not be ignored, such as sudden pain or numbness. Prolonged pain or muscle weakness should also be reported to your healthcare practitioner.
Finally, there is a possibility of bladder and bowel dysfunction, especially in the population aged 60 years or older.
Are there Risk Factors?
Sitting for Too Long
Prolonged sitting can significantly contribute to the onset of the condition. Another risk factor is a sedentary lifestyle, which is so prevalent in the population nowadays. Get out and do some exercise if you want to prevent it.
Being overweight is a risk factor in so many diseases and conditions, including sciatica. Obesity will increase the pressure and stress on your spine, which in turn might lead to disk changes.
Degenerative age-related changes are the most common variation of discus hernia. The disks between the vertebrae simply cannot take the test of time.
Increase in Blood Sugar
Nerve damage that comes with all types of diabetes affects the sciatic nerve as well, leading to its damage and the familiar shooting pain down the leg.
Your occupation may be a part of the problem, especially when it comes to manual labor, unusual and repetitive changes of position and prolonged sitting/driving.
How to Treat Sciatica?
Low Back Spinal Injection
Anti-inflammatory medicine such as cortisone or similar corticosteroids can be injected into the lower back and help reduce inflammation and swelling, thus improving mobility. The downside is the sensitivity of some people to cortisone-like substances as well as the notorious status of corticosteroids as one of the factors that contribute to several heart conditions. Other than that, such injections are very beneficial, especially for people with only mild pain and the ones who need to stay active despite the condition.
Take Anti-inflamatory Drugs and Pain Medications
Decreasing pain can also be accomplished using pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are your weapon of choice in the war against sciatica pain. The most widely recommended ones are aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, which are all over-the-counter medications.
Prescription painkillers might be administered in the initial stage of the condition, whereas muscle relaxants like cyclobenzaprine are of great help with muscle spasms. However, they may well cause confusion in the elderly, so they are rarely prescribed if there is no apparent benefit for the patient.
Around 90% of sufferers report significant improvement of their condition in 6 weeks after they first experience the sciatic pain. For a minority, the usual treatment is not an option for a number of reasons. In those cases, there are two types of surgery available:
- Laminectomy, which is a procedure that includes removing the tissue and the bone covering the sciatic nerve, called lamina. This is an operation whose goal is to decompress the nerve roots and the spinal cord.
- Microdiscectomy, during which the fragments of a herniated disk are removed. It is minimally invasive, and its goal is also to eliminate the pressure on the affected nerve root.
How to Achieve Better Sleep with Sciatica
Light Stretching Before Sleeping
There is a large number of exercises that can bring you some relief, especially if they are monitored by an experienced professional. Their purpose is to ease the tension in the muscles of the lower back area that can cause sciatica pain. The exercises are mainly different kinds of stretches that can be done almost anywhere and do not require a lot of time.
Refrain from Sleeping on Your Painful Side
Most sciatica sufferers toss and turn a lot in their sleep or just before. You should pay attention to which side you are sleeping on, consciously or not. A good way is to develop a sleeping habit by blocking the “wrong” side with obstacles like cushions or pillows, or anything that will cause immediate discomfort while lying on it.
Find the Best Sleeping Position
There is no such thing as the best sleeping position for sciatica; it all depends on the patient/sleeper, the degree of pain, and its exact source. What is recommended, however, is that you find a comfortable position with as little pain as possible and stick to it.
For many types of backache, it is advisable to sleep flat on your back. That said, sciatica is not your ordinary back pain. It usually radiates into the whole leg, so this sleeping position is much less comfortable.
Surveys of patients show that the most common position is sleeping on the side, with the top leg being the one that suffers the pain. An excellent idea is to support the leg with a pillow or a cushion that will keep your hip square throughout the night and minimize the pain.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene is a set of a few dos and don’ts, such as:
- DO NOT stare at your phone or TV (or any other device) before bedtime.
- DO NOT exercise at least two hours before going to bed.
- DO NOT eat at least three hours before bed.
- DO NOT drink coffee or tea late in the evening.
- DO drink a warm cup of milk or caffeine-free herbal tea.
- DO some reading before sleep.
- DO relaxation techniques such as meditation.
- DO think positive and think of your condition as only a temporary one.
Apply Ice to Painful Areas
So you have seen athletes do it all the time and think you might benefit from it? You might be right about placing ice on the lower part of your back because it is certain to reduce swelling and diminish the pain to an extent. However, you should consult a doctor before you choose whether you need an ice pack or cold pack and also make sure you ask about the duration of the therapy.
Schedule a Sciatica Massage
Sciatica massage focuses on relieving muscle tension in the back and the legs. It might be extremely helpful in some cases, but you should not expect a miracle. The tension that is either the source or the consequence of the pain will certainly be reduced, and this alone will improve the quality of your sleep and life during this period.
Use Pain Reliveing Patches or Creams
Pain-relieving creams and patches will subjectively but temporarily improve your condition. This means that their effect is localized and that the pain will only be masked using ingredients such as capsaicin or menthol. Patches are very convenient because you do not need to massage them in like creams and they can last for up to eight hours.
Use the Right Mattress
The right mattress for sciatica patients is either a medium-firm memory foam one that will cradle your body on all sides and stop gently hug it during the night or a firm one that will provide more support than comfort and keep your spine as aligned as possible.
Many people also claim that a mattress is an unnecessary luxury and that sleeping on the floor during this period is the best remedy. However, surveys have revealed that this is just a myth and that only a small number of patients sleep on such firm surfaces as the floor. They also revealed that there is a more significant number of people who prefer firm or very firm beds in these situations. You can go with some specially designed floor beds in this case too!
Use Neck a Pillow
You might wonder what a neck pillow is doing here on the list. The answer is surprisingly simple: It enables you to keep the upper back straight which in turn aligns the spine and keeps it in the perfect position while you are asleep.
Consult a Doctor
DO NOT ignore the pain! Sciatic pain is easily recognizable and, if left untreated, can quickly evolve into a severe one which will make you schedule an appointment ASAP. Consult your doctor about the options out there for you. The chances are that they will recommend either sleep or pain medication at first.
Later on, the therapy may include a special kind of exercise to alleviate the pain, physical therapy, or even dietary changes. If the pain is not reduced after these measures, your physician could suggest more extreme ones such as steroid injections or even surgery.
Keep in mind that there are some alternative treatments as well like acupuncture, biofeedback, or chiropractic therapy. Your doctor should help you choose the one most suitable for the current condition you are in.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Memory Foams Recommended?
Memory foam is your safest bet for several reasons. First of all, it will eliminate or minimize the pressure points, which will make you sleep more comfortably and reduce the level of pain. Another thing is the support – there are plenty of models on the market that provide excellent support while also delivering a medium-firm feeling that many sciatica patients prefer.
How to Lay in Bed With Sciatica?
The number of strategies on this one probably matches the number of people with sciatic pain. However, some positions are generally more comfortable than others. Recent studies have shown that bending your knees and side sleeping may be the best option. If you bend and elevate your knees, you effectively reduce the pressure on the nerve root by extending your lumbar discs vertically.
There are few things in life worse than the kind of pain that keeps you awake during the night. This is why you need to consider all the measures and advice we have offered and pay attention to every detail, keeping track of what suits you best while suffering sciatic pain.
We hope our list will help you choose the right mattress to suit your needs and speed up your recovery. Remember, an appropriate bed might be the proper prevention AND the right cure for your condition, so choose one wisely and carefully.