You’ve probably heard the jokes from older characters on TV shows complaining about their sciatica “acting up again.” It sounds funny at the time, but sciatica pain is no laughing matter when you experience it for yourself.
- Designed for cooling comfort
- Targeted pressure relief
Sciatica is nerve pain caused by irritation or injury to the sciatic nerve and it can cause shooting pain that radiates through your buttocks and down the leg. If you have sciatica, your pain may fluctuate from mild to severe and, in some cases, it can get bad enough that you experience weakness in the affected leg.
There are a number of treatment options for sciatica pain, but lifestyle changes are often the best long-term solution. In addition to looking into sciatica stretches and improving your posture, you may want to consider upgrading your mattress.
In this article, we’ll talk about sciatica and the associated pain. You’ll receive helpful tips for relieving sciatica nerve pain as well as suggestions in what to look for in a new mattress. You’ll also see our recommendations for the best mattress for sciatica nerve pain.
What is the Best Mattress for Sciatica Nerve Pain?
- Best Overall: Amerisleep AS2
- Best Budget-Friendly: Nectar
- Best Luxury: Leesa Legend
- Best for Stomach Sleepers: PlushBeds Med-Firm
- Best for Side Sleepers: Layla Hybrid
- Best for Back Sleepers: Avocado
- Best for Hip and Back Pain: Helix Luxe
- Best for Lower Back Pain: Saatva Classic
- Best for Adjustable Beds: Loom & Leaf
- Best for Customization: Ecosa
- Best Hybrid: Birch by Helix
- Best Memory Foam: Tuft & Needle
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the human body. Technically, it’s made up of five nerve roots: two from the lumbar spine and three from the sacrum. You have one sciatic nerve on each side of your body running through the hip and buttock, down the leg, ending just below the knee.
The term “sciatica” usually refers to pain that originates in the lower back and radiates down the leg. Though it can be caused by injury to the sciatic nerve, more common causes include irritation, inflammation, or compression of the nerve.
Sciatica pain ranges in severity and it may get worse if you don’t take steps to address the issue. It can progress to numbness or tingling in the legs and feet as well as weakness in the muscles.
Certain factors like these may increase your risk for sciatica:
- Existing or previous injury to the lower back or spine
- Being overweight or obese
- Lacking strong core muscles that support the back
- Having an active, physically demanding job
- Not using proper form when lifting weights or working out
- Having diabetes or osteoarthritis
- Sedentary lifestyle, long periods of sitting
Being a smoker increases your risk as well, and your risk for sciatica increases as you get older simply due to wear-and-tear on the bone tissue and discs in the spine. Certain medical conditions can cause sciatica as well. This includes herniated or slipped disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, osteoarthritis, and piriformis syndrome.
Treatment for sciatica is typically geared toward decreasing pain and increasing mobility. Over-the-counter medications often help with pain and swelling, though prescription medications and physical therapy may be required in more severe cases.
Tips for Relieving Sciatica Nerve Pain
Everyone’s sciatica pain is a little different, so the things that work for you might not work the same way for someone else. It’s all about trying different things and learning to identify the triggers that worsen your pain. Generally speaking, staying active and living a healthy lifestyle will help you manage sciatica.
Here are some simple tips to help relieve your sciatica pain:
- Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise to strengthen your back and core while keeping your joints and muscles limber.
- Pay attention to your posture when sitting or standing – make sure chairs offer enough support for your back and always sit or stand with your feet flat on the floor.
- Keep proper form in mind when listing heavy objects, exercising, or going about your daily tasks – always lift from your knees and use your core for support so you don’t strain your back.
- Follow a healthy diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like whole grains, omega-3 rich fish, fresh fruits and veggies, and nuts – drink green tea or black tea rather than coffee.
- Perform sciatica stretches on a daily basis and try physical therapy or massage if you need a little extra help or focused muscle work.
- Build the muscles in your lower body without straining your back by walking or exercising in a swimming pool – you might even check your local gym for water therapy exercise classes.
- Make it a priority to get a good night’s sleep every night – stick to a regular sleep schedule and make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep.
What to Look for in a New Mattress
Choosing a mattress largely comes down to a matter of preference – what you find most comfortable. As you start perusing the options, however, there are certain things you should keep in mind, especially when it comes to your sciatica pain. Keeping the spine in proper alignment and preventing nerve compression is the key. As long as the mattress does that, you’re free to pick your preference.
Here are some things to consider when shopping for a mattress for sciatica:
- Materials – The most common materials for modern mattresses are memory foam, latex, and springs. Memory foam conforms to the body while springs rise or sink under pressure. Latex offers similar pressure relief to memory foam but has a little more bounce to it.
- Construction – Many modern mattresses utilize a combination of materials including different types of foam and spring/foam designs. Make sure the mattress you choose has a firm support layer of springs or foam with additional layers for comfort and pressure relief.
- Firmness – Experts recommend a medium-firm mattress for back pain, so don’t go with anything too soft. The heavier you are, the firmer the mattress you’ll need to provide support.
- Pressure Relief – The top of your mattress should have enough sink to conform to your body’s contours, relieving pressure points. The degree of pressure relief you need may depend on your sleep style – side sleepers may need extra cushion to relieve pressure from hips and shoulders.
- Support – Your mattress needs to offer enough support to keep your spine in proper alignment, no matter what your preferred sleeping style is. Think about edge support as well as zoned spinal support – these are features many mattresses have to offer.
- Motion Isolation – If you sleep with a partner, motion isolation may be more of a concern for you. Look for a mattress that doesn’t transfer motion from one side to the other.
Now that you have a better understanding of your sciatica pain and how proper spine support during sleep might help relieve symptoms, you’re ready to start shopping for a new mattress! Read on to see our top picks in different categories to get on your way.
The Best Mattress for Sciatica Nerve Pain
When shopping for a new mattress, it’s easy to look at the price tag first. What you need to remember, however, is that an expensive mattress may not always be the best choice and an inexpensive mattress might not be the worst. It’s understandable that price will be a factor in your decision, but don’t forget to look at the quality of the materials, the construction of the mattress, and the features it offers in terms of pressure relief, support, and firmness.
Here are our top picks for the best mattresses for sciatica:
Best Overall: Choosing the right mattress can be tough but Amerisleep makes it a little bit easier by narrowing down the options to 5 excellent choices. Amerisleep mattresses are made with high-quality materials and each model is designed to appeal to a specific type of sleeper. The AS2 is our top overall pick for sciatica pain relief because it offers a medium-firm feel with targeted pressure relief and comfortable support.
The Amerisleep AS2 is made with plant-based Bio-Pur materials, an open-cell foam that wicks away warm air while providing the contouring pressure relief you need. Made with back sleepers in mind, this mattress features three layers of premium foam and an ultra-breathable cover. The top layer of foam stays cool and relieves pressure without leaving you feeling stuck in the mattress. Next comes a HIVE transition layer for targeted pressure relief, over a Bio-Core base layer for durable support. It won’t sag or develop soft spots, so you’ll enjoy long-lasting spine support for years of comfort.
- Pros: Made with high-quality materials, designed for cooling comfort, targeted pressure relief
- Cons: May be too firm for some side sleepers, has less bounce than an innerspring mattress
Best Budget-Friendly: You can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep but you don’t necessarily need to pay a fortune for a new mattress. The Nectar mattress features a multi-layer foam construction designed to deliver optimal comfort and support, making it a great choice for sciatica sufferers. As an added bonus, it’s affordably priced under $1,200 for a queen with a full 365-night trial period included.
The Nectar mattress is made from premium memory foam that hugs your body for pressure-relieving comfort, but it doesn’t trap heat. This mattress starts with a thick layer of stabilizing support foam which is topped with a transition layer of adaptive hi-core memory foam. On top of that is a layer of gel memory foam that distributes your weight and body heat, keeping you cool and comfortable. The top layer is a quilted memory foam cover that gives you the soft, airy feeling of sleeping on a cloud.
Not only is the Nectar mattress affordable, but it is rated medium-firm which makes it a great option for most sleepers. Enjoy a full year risk-free to try it at home with free shipping and returns as well.
- Pros: Long 365-night trial period, multi-layer foam construction, comfort and support
- Cons: May not be firm enough for heavy sleepers, foam may be slow to respond
Best Luxury: The average person spends about one-third of their life sleeping, so you can see why it’s important to choose a mattress carefully. If you want the best of the best, consider the Leesa Hybrid. Not only is this mattress made with premium-quality materials, but it provides excellent stability, support, and comfort for all types of sleepers. It’s a great choice for sciatica pain relief.
The Leesa Hybrid mattress features a base of over 1,000 active response pocket coils that support your body weight while actively responding to movement. On top of it you’ll find a recovery layer of memory foam for enhanced body contouring and pressure relief. Next comes a comfort layer of breathable foam that gives you the hug and bounce you expect from a mattress, and it’s all topped with a seamless hybrid cover. All told, the mattress stands 11 inches tall and is rated medium firm (5-7/10).
- Pros: Designed for comfort and support, luxury hybrid design, stabilizing pocket coil base
- Cons: More expensive than all-foam mattresses
Best for Stomach Sleepers: When you sleep on your stomach, your hips tend to sink which can throw your spine out of alignment. You need a mattress that’s firm enough to keep your spine aligned with just enough contouring to relieve pressure from your joints. The PlushBeds Botanical Bliss mattress is a great choice because it is made from premium organic latex and offers adjustable firmness levels.
The PlushBeds Botanical Bliss mattress comes in two levels of firmness: medium and medium-firm. You also have the option to choose from a 9-, 10-, or 12-inch height. This mattress is made with multiple layers of organic Dunlop latex, organic New Zealand wool, and organic cotton. Not only does it offer the ideal combination of comfort and support, but it is antimicrobial and dust mite-resistant. Latex materials tend to sleep cooler than memory foam and they have a little more bounce, so you don’t feel trapped in the mattress when sleeping on your stomach.
- Pros: Made with organic and natural materials, two levels of firmness, comfort and support
- Cons: Significantly more expensive than other models
Best for Side Sleepers: If you suffer from sciatica pain, you may find sleeping on your side more comfortable than sleeping on your back. The trouble with side sleeping is the extra pressure it puts on your hips and shoulders. The Layla Hybrid mattress is the solution to this problem because it features a hybrid design that supports your back and spine while relieving pressure with the top layers.
The Layla Hybrid mattress is unique in several ways, not the least of which is the dual-sided, flippable design. This mattress is constructed with a supportive core of individually wrapped coils that incorporates the Infinity Edge system for edge support. This layer is sandwiched between layers of Max AirFlow support foam which feature deep channels for maximum cooling, each topped with a layer of copper gel memory foam and a super-soft fabric cover.
Depending on your preference, you can flip the Layla Hybrid mattress for a soft, plush feel or firm, supportive feel. Both sides offer the optimal degree of contouring for pressure relief from the hips and shoulders without compromising on support for your spine.
- Pros: Two-sided design with dual firmness levels, pocket coil supportive core, cooling and pressure relief
- Cons: Somewhat more expensive than the foam model, may be too soft for stomach sleepers
Best for Back Sleepers: Sleeping on your back is generally thought to be the best position to relieve back pain, including sciatica pain. When you are on your back, your spine is in its most neutral and natural position, but you still need support to keep it in alignment while you sleep. The Avocado Green Mattress is a great option for back sleepers because it offers a balanced level of firmness with an optional pillow top.
The Avocado Green Mattress is made with natural and organically certified materials in a luxury design that delivers the optimal combination of comfort and support. This mattress features organic certified latex, organic certified wool, and organic certified cotton – it even carries adheres to strict Greenguard Gold certifications. The standard Avocado Green mattress stands 11 inches thick, though you can add a 5-inch pillow top made from latex rubber foam which adds a plush feel to the top of the bed.
All Avocado mattresses feature a distinctive, needle-tufted cover made from organic wool. Plus, as a hybrid mattress, you’ll enjoy the additional support of an innerspring unit made up of individually wrapped coils arranged in five distinct ergonomic zones. Every mattress comes with a 1-year sleep trial as well as a 25-year warranty, making it completely risk-free!
- Pros: Available with optional pillow-top, balanced level of firmness, made with organic materials
- Cons: Could be stronger with motion isolation, may be too firm for petite or side sleepers
Best for Hip and Back Pain: Hip and back pain can make it difficult to fall asleep at night which may leave you sore and stiff when you wake up in the morning. This is particularly common in people who sleep on their sides because the wrong mattress may not conform to the hips and shoulders in order to relieve pressure. Our top pick for the best mattress for hip and back pain is the Helix Midnight Luxe.
The Helix Midnight Luxe is a luxury mattress rated at a medium level of firmness, designed specifically for side sleepers. This mattress is made with a hybrid design that delivers the support and pressure relief you need with the comfort you want. It also incorporates an ultra-breathable cover to keep you cool all night long. Helix offers a variety of other mattress models as well, so it’s easy to choose the perfect level of firmness level for your sleeping style and body type. Simply complete the Helix sleep quiz to be paired with the perfect mattress. All mattresses come with a 100-night sleep trial and free shipping/returns.
- Pros: Luxury hybrid design, medium firmness level, comfort and pressure relief, 100-night sleep trial
- Cons: Fairly expensive compared to some brands, may be too soft for heavy sleepers
Best for Lower Back Pain: Lower back pain is often the result of an unsupportive mattress. If your mattress is too soft or too old, it may sink under your body weight and allow your spine to fall out of alignment. This may not cause sciatica pain, but it can certainly make existing problems worse.
Our top pick for the best mattress for lower back pain is the Saatva Classic. This luxury hybrid mattress comes in three levels of firmness – we recommend the Luxury Firm or Firm for sciatica sufferers. The mattress is designed to deliver optimal spine support for reduced back and joint pain. In fact, it’s approved by the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations. This mattress combines a luxury Euro pillow top with a pocket coil base and spinal zone technology to deliver the support you need with the pressure you want, all in a durable, high-quality mattress.
- Pros: Three firmness levels to choose from, luxury hybrid construction, breathable and supportive
- Cons: Hybrid mattresses tend to be fairly heavy, less contouring/hugging than foam mattresses
Best for Adjustable Beds: It can be tough to find a sleeping position that’s comfortable, especially if you suffer from sciatica pain. Many people find an adjustable bed to be a good solution because you can adjust the bed to accommodate your preferred sleeping position as it changes from night to night. The key is to find a mattress compatible with adjustable bases – our pick is the Loom & Leaf by Saatva.
The Loom & Leaf mattress features handcrafted layers of organic cotton and premium foam materials. With a supportive multi-layer foam base, you’ll enjoy deep contouring support topped with an eco-friendly layer of premium foam that is naturally cool. There’s an additional layer of proprietary Spinal Zone Gel as well for maximum breathability and improved lumbar support. The Loom & Leaf mattress comes with a 120-night sleep trial, 0% APR financing, and free shipping.
- Pros: Made with premium materials, two firmness levels to choose from, designed for adjustable bases
- Cons: Fairly expensive compared to many models, may be too firm for some users
Best for Customization: People change over time, and so do our preferences. The things you like most one day might not be the same things you love a week, a month, or a year later. When it comes to your mattress, you may not always have the same preferences and the Ecosa mattress is designed with this in mind. This all-foam mattress features flippable layers so you can change the firmness level as much as you like.
The Ecosa mattress is made with multiple layers of premium foam including G-7 gel memory foam, ergonomic support foam, and ECO-Tex open-cell memory foam. Depending how you arrange the layers, you can choose from three levels of firmness, all of which deliver breathable comfort with optimal pressure relief and spinal support. This mattress also features a removable Tencel cover with a waterproof inner cover underneath for an extra layer of protection.
Not only is the Ecosa mattress adjustable in firmness, but it is extremely affordable and versatile enough to be used on any foundation. Plus, it comes with a 100-night sleep trial and free shipping.
- Pros: Adjustable for three levels of firmness, engineered for spine alignment, dual cover design
- Cons: Flipping the layers can be tricky, somewhat lacking in edge support
Best Hybrid: If you love the cushioning feel of memory foam but you don’t want to feel like you’re sleeping “in” rather than “on” your mattress, a hybrid mattress might be the right compromise. These mattresses deliver the support and durability of an innerspring mattress with the contouring pressure relief of foam or latex. The Birch hybrid mattress from Helix is our top choice.
The Birch hybrid mattress from Helix features all-natural materials including organic cotton and wool. The mattress sits on a base of 100% natural and organic wool batting with a support layer of individually wrapped coils. Above that is a pressure-relieving layer of natural Talalay latex, topped with a comfort layer of organic Birch wool. There’s an additional layer of natural wool fibers for fire-retardant benefits and the mattress is wrapped in an organic cotton cover. It comes with a 100-night sleep trial and free shipping as well as a 25-year warranty.
- Pros: Hybrid construction for support and pressure relief, less sinking feeling than memory foam
- Cons: Some may not like the bouncy feel of latex materials
Best Memory Foam: Memory foam is an excellent choice for sciatica sufferers because it conforms to the body to relieve pressure where you need it. The Tuft & Needle Mint mattress is a great option because it features a luxury three-layer design but is still affordably priced under $1k.
The Tuft & Needle Mint mattress utilizes luxury materials including two layers of proprietary T&N Adaptive foam and 4-inches of progressive support foam. The top layer contains 30% more graphite as well as an open-cell design to maximize breathability and the cover is soft and breathable as well. Sleep in cooling comfort all night while enjoying the support your spine needs for proper alignment. This mattress comes with a 100-night trial and 10-year warranty.
- Pros: Affordable price tag, luxury three-layer construction, breathable cooling materials, 100-night trial
- Cons: Somewhat lacking in edge support, may be too firm for some side sleepers
The quality and construction of your mattress plays a major role in determining the quality of your sleep. When you don’t sleep well, you don’t feel well in the morning and sciatica pain only makes things worse.
When it comes to choosing a mattress, there are myriad options. The truth is there may not be a singular best mattress for sciatica pain relief, but there are certain qualities you should look for. Take what you’ve learned here about choosing a mattress for pain relief and consider the options we’ve recommended above as you get started with shopping.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can sciatica be caused by a bad mattress? – Sleeping on the wrong mattress is unlikely to cause sciatica but it certainly won’t help. Sciatica pain is caused by inflammation or irritation to the sciatic nerve which is sometimes the result of a slipped disc or lack of support to the spine. A mattress that doesn’t keep your spine in proper alignment during sleep can make matters worse by not relieving the pressure on the spine and the sciatic nerve. Upgrading to a more supportive mattress may help relieve your pain.
- Why is sciatica worse in the morning? – Many people experience a mild degree of sciatica pain most of the time, but it often gets worse after long periods of inactivity. This is one reason why sciatica pain might be worse in the morning, but it probably has more to do with the way you sleep. Sleeping in the wrong position or sleeping on an unsupportive mattress may allow your spine to fall out of proper alignment, putting extra pressure on the joints and on your sciatic nerve. Changing your sleeping position or mattress might help.
- What is the best sleeping position for sciatica? – When you struggle with sciatica pain, it can be difficult to find a position that is comfortable. Most experts agree that sleeping on your back is the most supportive for your spine and generally the best option for back pain. Try to lie flat on your back with your heels and buttocks making contact with the mattress. Bend your knees slightly and slide a small pillow between your knees and the mattress for support. You may need to experiment with different pillows to find the one that sits at the right height to keep you comfortable and your spine aligned.
- Is a memory foam mattress best for relieving sciatica pain? – Many experts recommend a memory foam mattress for sciatic because it provides pressure relief while supporting proper spine alignment. Memory foam conforms to the shape of your body, relieving pressure points according to the position you sleep in. The trouble is memory foam tends to sleep hot, but there are special foams and other materials like latex that provide similar benefit but run cooler.
- Does stretching help relieve sciatica pain? – Staying sedentary can worsen sciatica pain, so keeping your body loose and limber may help. Sciatica stretches to strengthen the core and other spine-stabilizing muscles paired with light aerobic exercise may reduce pain without aggravating your condition. Many people find that stretching before bed helps reduce the pain they feel in the morning.