Sciatica causes radiating pain in the lower back, hips, and legs that can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. The pain can be short-term, or it can persist for a while. In either case, having a mattress that cushions sore spots and takes pressure off the lower back can be a crucial step to getting some shut-eye.
We’ll dive into the different ways a mattress can impact sciatica pain and provide tips on how to pick a mattress for your body type, preferred sleep position, and other factors. We’ve also researched some of the best mattresses for sciatica on the market today to help get you started in your quest for better sleep.
Thick layers of polyfoam and gel-infused memory foam in the flagship Puffy Mattress alleviate pressure points in people with sciatica and all but eliminate motion transfer when sharing the bed.
The Puffy Mattress is the flagship mattress from Puffy and features an all-foam construction with a top layer of gel-infused memory foam, a transitional layer of temperature-resistant polyfoam, and a base layer of high-density polyfoam.
In terms of firmness, the mattress has a medium feel, about a 5 out of 10 on the firmness scale. The thick layers of polyfoam and gel-infused memory foam cushion the hips and shoulders, greatly alleviating sciatica sore spots and aligning the spine in side sleepers who weigh less than 230 pounds. The Puffy mattress also has outstanding motion isolation, making it a very good choice for people who are easily awoken from their partner’s movements.
Puffy creates its foams using a variable pressure foaming process that minimizes harmful emissions. The cover is OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certified, meaning it’s free of substances that are harmful to humans. The company gives customers 101 nights to try out the Puffy mattress, after which it’s backed by a lifetime warranty.
An all-foam mattress that comes in three firmness levels, the WinkBeds GravityLux bolsters the hips and cushions the shoulders with a zoned transitional layer.
WinkBeds recently released the GravityLux, an all-foam mattress tufted with gel-infused foam. People who suffer from sciatica will appreciate the zoned transitional layer, which provides targeted pressure relief in the shoulders and extra support for the lower back.
WinkBeds’ claim to fame with the GravityLux is the proprietary AirCell foam in the comfort layer. This open-cell foam is engineered to mimic the motion isolation and pressure-relieving properties of memory foam without the heat retention. A cooling Tencel cover tufted with gel-infused foam further increases airflow, allowing the mattress to sleep cooler than most memory foam mattresses.
The GravityLux is available in three firmness levels, which equate to a 4, a 5, and a 7-8 out of 10 on the firmness scale. Between the three options, every sleeper should be able to find a comfortable surface no matter their body type or preferred sleep position.
The WinkBeds GravityLux is handmade in Wisconsin. Customers have 120 nights to sleep on the mattress before committing. After this, any manufacturing or workmanship defects will be covered under a full replacement lifetime warranty.
The Casper Hybrid boasts the responsiveness and airflow of an innerspring mattress, while its foam comfort layers offer close-conforming pressure relief to ease sore spots in sciatica sufferers.
The Casper Hybrid Mattress has comfort layers of perforated foam over a zoned memory foam transitional layer. This layer is designed with softer foam under the shoulders and firmer foam in the hips and lumbar areas to keep the spine on an even plane. A pocketed coil base layer with polyfoam casing around the perimeter provides a strong support layer with reliable edges.
The Casper Hybrid has a medium feel that falls at a 5 out of 10 on the firmness scale. The comfort layers conform quite closely, easing pressure points in side and back sleepers who weigh less than 230 pounds. Unlike an all-foam model, however, the coils provide some responsiveness that prevents the feeling of being stuck in the bed.
The plush foam layers also absorb motion, cutting down on nighttime disruptions for people who sleep with a partner. Thanks to airflow through the pocketed coils, the Casper Hybrid sleeps cool throughout the night.
Casper offers free shipping in the continental U.S. and in Canada, with an extra fee for Alaska and Hawaii. The mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year limited warranty.
The DreamCloud offers all the advantages of a hybrid mattress, with strong temperature neutrality, ease of movement, and above-average pressure relief, at an entry-level price point that will appeal to sciatica sufferers on a budget.
The DreamCloud is a hybrid mattress with layers of memory foam and polyfoam over a support core of individually-wrapped coils. The cover is made of a moisture-wicking cashmere blend and quilted with polyfoam for added plushness. Thick memory foam and polyfoam comfort layers reduce motion transfer and cushion pressure points for those with sciatica.
The mattress has a medium firm feel that equates to a 6 out of 10 on the firmness scale. With the exception of lighter side sleepers, who may find the mattress a little firm, the mattress provides a balance of support and pressure relief that is suitable for most body types and sleeping positions.
Breathable cashmere, airflow through the coil layer, and gel infusions in the foam work together to help the mattress stay cool. The mattress has a quick response to pressure and decent edge support thanks to the coils, which may be helpful when getting in and out of bed for people with limited movement.
DreamCloud guarantees the mattress against manufacturing and workmanship defects with a limited lifetime warranty. The mattress ships free in the contiguous U.S. and comes with a full year-long sleep trial.
With two firmness levels to choose from, the flippable Nolah Signature offers ease of movement and relief from sciatica pain for a broad range of sleeper types.
The Nolah Signature is a flippable mattress with a different firmness level on each side. Both sides feature comfort layers of a proprietary foam that is designed to provide pressure relief and motion isolation, but with a quicker response to pressure than traditional memory foam.
One side of the mattress is considered medium soft and the other firm, equivalent to a 4 and 7-8 out of 10 on the firmness scale. Both sides share a common high-density polyfoam support core and an organic cotton cover, and the soft side has an additional layer of transitional polyfoam.
Side sleepers under 230 pounds will find that the soft side contours closely, helping keep the spine aligned and reduce pressure points. Back and stomach sleepers will prefer the firm side, which supports the hips to ward off lower back pain. This side also succeeds in maintaining good temperature neutrality, and it provides a responsive surface that enables sleepers to easily switch sleeping positions.
The Nolah Signature has a 120-night sleep trial with a mandatory 30-night break-in period, giving you plenty of time to test both sides of the mattress to see if it’s right for you. After this, the mattress is covered by a lifetime warranty. For each mattress sold, Nolah makes a donation to help protect American wildlife through the organization Defenders of Wildlife.
With a choice of two firmness levels, the all-foam Loom and Leaf by Saatva is a sophisticated mattress with close-conforming memory foam and enhanced lumbar support, topped off with free White Glove delivery so you don’t have to lift a finger.
The Loom and Leaf is an all-foam offering from Saatva, one of the biggest names in the online mattress industry. The mattress has dense layers of memory foam that hug the body to alleviate pressure points and prevent motion transfer.
The mattress comes in two firmness options: medium firm and firm, or a 6 and a 7-8 out of 10, respectively. The medium firm model is ideal for side sleepers, while stomach sleepers and people over 230 pounds will prefer the firm model.
While the mattress won’t have as much airflow as a hybrid or latex mattress, a quilted cover made from organic cotton provides a breathable surface. The Loom and Leaf mattress also uses multiple cooling features, including gel swirls, pincore holes, and phase change materials, to reduce heat retention. Extra cooling gel is laminated onto the lumbar region for extra lower back support.
Saatva offers free White Glove delivery and optional old mattress removal with every order in the contiguous U.S. This is a rare offering in the online mattress industry and is very helpful for people who are unable to lift heavy items due to sciatica pain. The mattress also comes with a 180-night sleep trial, subject to a $99 transportation fee for returns.
The Leesa Legend is a luxury hybrid made with sustainably sourced materials, featuring a dual-coil construction that soothes pressure points and supplies ample lumbar support to ward off sciatica flare-ups.
Best known for its signature all-foam mattress, Leesa also sells a hybrid version called the Leesa Legend. Multiple foam and micro-coil comfort layers hug the body and relieve pressure points, while pocketed coils in the support core form a sturdy base that reduces strain on the lower back. The mattress has a medium firm feel, or 6 out of 10, that should appeal to almost all sleepers, no matter their body type or sleep position.
This model features a sustainable cover that contains 100% organic cotton, moisture-wicking Merino wool, and recycled water bottles. Leesa furthers its commitment to the environment by using springs made from recycled steel.
As a hybrid mattress, the Leesa Legend performs well in most categories. The coils provide a reliable perimeter and a responsive surface that’s great for sex, but the mattress also succeeds in preventing motion transfer when sharing the bed. With its breathable cover, perforated foam, and two layers of coils, the mattress allows ample room for air to flow.
Leesa offers a 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty. The company is a certified-B corporation that donates mattresses to children in need.
People with sciatica experience pain and numbness in the lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs. The pain can occur on one or both sides of the body, and in severe cases, sciatica may even interfere with bladder function. Studies estimate that the lifetime prevalence of sciatica may be between 13 and 40 percent.
Not surprisingly, people who suffer from sciatica often have trouble finding a comfortable sleep position. Unfortunately, poor-quality sleep can lead us to experience pain more vividly, provoking a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.
A mattress with above-average pressure relief and support can help minimize aches and pains from sciatica and help you get a better rest. Some sleepers may also have additional needs, such as motion isolation to reduce disruptions from their partner’s movement or strong edges to facilitate getting in and out of bed.
This guide discusses the impact of sciatica on your sleep and provides advice on how to choose the best mattress for sciatica based on your body type, preferred sleep position, and other factors.
It can feel overwhelming to sift through the confusing terminology that saturates the mattress industry. At the end of the day, however, buying a mattress basically boils down to a few key points. Focusing on the following factors can help you see past the marketing hype and choose the best mattress for your sciatica.
Most mattresses available today fall into one of the five categories listed below. Mattresses of a given category will share some common qualities thanks to their similar construction.
Of course, there is plenty of variation within each mattress type depending on design, materials, and other special features. Nevertheless, understanding the basic differences between mattress types can be a useful way of narrowing down which mattress is right for you.
Definition: Hybrid mattresses combine a thick comfort layer section with an innerspring support core. The comfort layers may be made of polyfoam, memory foam, latex, micro-coils, fiberfill, cotton, wool, or down.
Best of Both Worlds. Hybrids aim to provide the support, airflow, and edge support of an innerspring mattress as well as the conforming pressure relief and motion isolation of an all-foam or latex model. This makes hybrids ideally placed to deliver the balance of support and pressure relief that is needed to ease pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Definition: Innerspring mattresses feature a construction made primarily with metal coils. While this is sometimes supplemented by a thin comfort layer, this does not noticeably affect the way the mattress feels.
Affordable. Innerspring mattresses are widely available and are one of the most affordable mattress options. While they don’t provide enough pressure relief for sciatica sufferers on their own, using an innerspring mattress with a mattress topper can be an inexpensive way to customize the feel to your liking.
Definition: Latex can either be made synthetically or naturally, from a substance originating in the rubber tree. Latex mattresses usually use a denser latex in the support core and a plusher pressure-relieving latex in the comfort layers.
Responsive Pressure Relief. Latex offers substantial pressure relief without the close “hug” feeling of memory foam. This makes it a good option for sciatica sufferers who frequently change sleep positions.
Definition: The support core of an airbed consists of air chambers that can be inflated or deflated to adjust the bed’s firmness level. Mattresses for two people usually feature individual air chambers so each user can choose their own firmness level. Additionally, many airbeds soften the feel of the mattress with foam, latex, or other comfort layers.
Immediate Relief. No other type of mattress comes close to giving you such exact control over the firmness of the bed. This can be a lifesaver for sciatica sufferers whose pain changes from night to night or every time they switch sleeping positions.
Definition: Foam mattresses are constructed without a coil support core. They most often feature a support core of high-density polyfoam, plus comfort layers consisting of memory foam, polyfoam, or latex.
Advanced Pressure Relief. Foam mattresses, especially those which include memory foam in the comfort layers, offer unrivaled pressure relief that soothes and cushions pressure points. The foam’s conforming abilities can also fill in the lumbar area to prevent pressure build-up in the gap between the lower back and the mattress.
The sciatic nerves originate in the lower back and run through the buttocks, back of the legs, and soles of the feet down to the toes. Sciatica is the result of a problem with the sciatic nerves, most often a pinched or irritated nerve caused by a herniated disc. Risk factors for sciatica include poor posture, injury, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, arthritis, or bone spurs.
Sciatica is often described as a radiating pain that starts in the lower back and travels down the back of the legs and sometimes the feet. It can present as numbness, tingling, throbbing, heat, inflammation, sharp pain, aching, or even muscle spasms in the areas affected by the sciatic nerve. These symptoms can be mild or severe, acute or chronic, and they often occur only on one side of the body. Patients may find some relief with anti-inflammatory drugs or by applying ice, but for severe cases, surgery is sometimes required.
Many people with sciatica find it difficult to find a comfortable sleep position. Lying down can put pressure on the hips and lumbar area, leading many people to experience flare-ups when trying to sleep or upon waking up after lying in the same position all night. People with sciatica require a mattress that can distribute body weight and support the lower back in order to help take pressure off the sciatic nerves.
Chances are your sciatica keeps you tossing and turning to try to find a comfortable position. Those who suffer from severe sciatica may also have problems with bladder control. In these cases, choosing a mattress that isolates motion transfer can help reduce disturbances to a sleeping partner during midnight bathroom visits. Strong edge support and a responsive surface can also make it easier to get in and out of bed.
Other techniques to relieve sciatica pain include elevating the knees, using an adjustable base or zoned mattress, tucking a pillow between your knees to keep the hips in line when side sleeping, or inserting a pillow below your midsection to relieve pressure on your lower back when stomach sleeping. Taking a warm bath or doing some light stretching before bed can also provide some temporary relief. You should always consult your healthcare professional before starting any treatment.
Different sleeping positions put pressure on different parts of our bodies, which can have a significant impact on sciatica pain. Back and side sleeping are commonly touted as the best positions for people with sciatica, but as we’ll see here, this advice comes with some caveats.
Back sleeping encourages healthy spinal alignment and is typically regarded as the healthiest sleeping position. That said, there are a few factors that sciatica sufferers should watch for in order to ensure they’re getting the maximum benefits from their mattress.
One of the most notable issues for sciatica sufferers to look out for when sleeping on the back is insufficient support to the lumbar region. A mattress that is too firm can leave space between your lower back and the mattress, leading to pressure build-up in the lumbar area. By contrast, a mattress that is too plush may let your hips sink in too far, which also puts pressure on your lower back. The best mattress for back sleepers with sciatica needs to balance pressure relief and support. You may get additional relief from using a thin pillow under your knees.
Side sleepers often develop pressure points in the hips and shoulders as a result of these areas digging into the mattress. This can be doubly painful for people who have sciatica in the hips. For this reason, it’s important to choose a mattress that cushions the hips and shoulders. Memory foam is generally considered to have the best pressure-relieving capabilities.
It may be tempting to go with the softest mattress possible to alleviate pressure points, but mattresses that don’t offer enough support in the lumbar area may also cause lower back pain as a result of the hips bending at awkward angles. The best mattress for side sleepers with sciatica will contour to these curves, filling in the lumbar area and allowing the hips and shoulders to sink in just enough to keep the spine on an even plane. Some side sleepers may find that tucking a pillow between the knees can ease pressure on the lower back and hips.
Side sleeping is an excellent choice for people who only experience sciatica pain on one side. Strategically-placed pillows can help prevent you from rolling over to the painful side during your sleep.
Sleeping on your stomach is not usually recommended for people with sciatica as it is very likely to exacerbate symptoms. Since most people carry the bulk of their weight around their hips, this heavier area is prone to sinking into the mattress, which in turn puts pressure on the lower back and neck.
If you must sleep on your stomach, you’ll do best with a firm mattress that supports the hips. Using a thin pillow or even no pillow for your head and placing a pillow beneath your hips can also help promote a more natural position for your spine.
No matter how comfortable the mattress, people who have sciatica often find they need to switch sleep positions sometimes to take pressure off a given area. Therefore, in addition to pressure relief and support, a mattress for combination sleepers should facilitate movement. Latex and hybrid mattresses can provide the extra responsiveness that keeps you from feeling stuck in the bed when you switch sleeping positions.
Regardless of whether or not you suffer from sciatica, there are some general principles that every shopper should keep in mind when purchasing a new mattress.
Spending thousands of dollars on a mattress isn’t for everybody, but with a bit of digging, you should be able to find a mattress that meets your needs without breaking the bank.
The recent rise of online mattress companies means that customers now have access to a wealth of options at affordable price-points. These reflect the lack of sales commissions and other costs associated with brick-and-mortar stores.
Another option is to keep an eye out for sales, which are commonly offered on major holidays at both online and traditional retail stores. Your local newspaper may also have cut-out coupons.
If your current mattress hasn’t lost its supportive ability and all you need is a firmness adjustment, you may have luck with a mattress topper. Mattress toppers are layers of foam, latex, wool, or other materials that are designed to lie on top of your mattress and make it firmer or softer. They are a cost-effective way to get added pressure relief for your sciatica without buying an entire mattress.
The more you weigh, the more you’ll sink into a mattress. This is why lighter people tend to prefer plush, conforming mattresses and heavier people tend to prefer a firmer, more supportive surface. For example, an all-foam mattress may provide the extra pressure relief needed for a person under 130 pounds, while someone over 230 pounds may prefer the more supportive feel of a hybrid or latex mattress. Of course, this will also depend on your preferred sleeping position and other factors.
The average price for a good-quality foam mattress starts around $800, with other mattress types or more sophisticated models costing up to $2,000 or more. Additional features such as cooling technology tend to be reflected in the price tag, so the budget of your mattress will depend on what features are important to you.
Most online mattress companies offer sleep trials so you can try out the mattress in your own home before committing to a purchase. You should look for a sleep trial that’s at least 90 nights long, which will give your body time to adjust to the feel of the new mattress. Some mattress companies impose mandatory break-in periods or charge return fees, so be sure to check the fine print before ordering.
After the sleep trial ends, a mattress warranty can protect you against premature sagging, ensuring your mattress will continue to deliver the support you need to reduce sciatica pain. Mattress warranties tend to last at least 10 years and cover significant defects in materials and workmanship. That said, mattress warranties shouldn’t be the main factor that influences which mattress you buy.