How to Sleep With Lower Back Pain and Sciatica

by | Nov 10, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

Back pain, especially the kind that sends shooting pain down your legs, can make sleeping extremely difficult. You may feel that every sleep position sends massive pain signals to your lower back. Unfortunately, you’re not alone. Up to 55% of people with lower back pain have trouble sleeping. Getting less sleep can also trigger increased pain levels and irritability, creating a vicious cycle of discomfort.

If you’ve been missing hours of sleep because of lower back pain, you may have sciatica, a condition in which your sciatic nerve becomes inflamed. In addition to treating your sciatica, it’s crucial that you find a comfortable way to sleep as soon as possible. Physical therapists can help you find sleeping positions that ease your specific sciatica and lower back pain symptoms.

What is sciatica? 

Often, sciatica is caused by a herniated spinal disc that presses on your sciatic nerve. It is most often experienced as lower back pain that radiates to the back of one thigh. Sometimes, your lower back pain can even extend down to your foot. You may also feel numbness or weakness in your back.

You are more likely to develop sciatica when sitting in awkward positions for long periods of time. You are also more likely to develop the condition if you are between the ages of 30 and 50.

How to sleep with lower back pain and sciatica

Getting a good night’s sleep with sciatica can be difficult; certain sleep positions can place pressure on your sciatic nerve and lead to further inflammation. While you can treat your lower back pain with physical therapy exercises and stretches, it’s crucial that you get a full night’s sleep. Proper sleep allows your body to heal quickly, sensitivity of the nervous system to decrease, and can help you get back to your life with minimal discomfort.


To help relieve your lower back and sciatica pain while sleeping, you can try:

  • Sleeping on your side — Depending on your symptoms, sleeping on your side can help relieve pressure from your sciatic nerve. You can place a pillow between your thighs to encourage your spine’s alignment and hold your legs in place.
  • Sleeping in the fetal position — Sleeping with your back in a curved position may be able to form spaces between your vertebrae and decrease the chances of a herniated disc pressing against your sciatic nerve. Sleeping in a fetal position may be able to achieve this. In addition, you can try sleeping in a reclining chair or adjustable bed with your head elevated.
  • Sleeping on your back — Lying on your back can help distribute your weight evenly. You can even place a thick pillow under your knees to preserve your spine’s neutral position while on your back.


Our licensed PTs at Forever Fit can sleep with sciatica and lower back pain 

While sciatica is a common condition affecting up to 40% of the population, each person’s symptoms are different. Our licensed therapists at Forever Fit can customize your treatment plan so that you feel relief from your lower back pain as soon as possible. Each physical therapy session lasts 40 minutes. During your sessions, we can experiment with different sleeping positions to make sure you find the one that effectively eases your back pain while you heal.

Take control of your back pain today. Contact our team to talk to one of our physical therapists and let us help you find the pain relief you need.

Schedule an Appointment