Best Mattress for Sciatica

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Sciatica is a common complaint with many people, but is your mattress making it worse? Across the UK, people are suffering from sciatica-induced sleep difficulties, which have a wide range of documented, negative effects.

Sciatica is actually a specific type of pain that affects the sciatic nerves, the body’s largest nerves that run from the lower back and down the back of each leg to the toes. This pain can have a wide range of negative effects on sleep and daily life.

Unlike general back pain, sciatica always has a known source, making it important to find a mattress that can provide proper support and pressure relief to help alleviate the symptoms.

In this article, I’ll explore the best mattresses for sciatica to help you get a better night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

️‍Best mattresses for sciatica (UK)

What are the symptoms of sciatica?

Should these nerves be compressed in any way then it can lead to serious and very uncomfortable pain. The most common symptoms of sciatica are:

  • Lower back pain
  • Throbbing pain around the sciatic nerve areas
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Heat in the sciatic nerve areas
  • Muscle spasms

As you’re reading this, you probably already know how terrible sciatica can be for sleep quality.

It can feel almost impossible to get to sleep, and when you do, you probably wake up several times through the night. If you have this condition and want to ensure that you can get the best possible night’s sleep, then you will benefit from a mattress that is able to relieve the sensitive pressure points and prevents further back pain from developing.

Note that sciatica is a specific type of pain and is rather different to most back pains that are normally just categorised as ‘generalised back pain’. If you are suffering from general back pain, then read this article about which mattress is best for you.

1. Nectar Memory Foam – Best Overall

The Nectar mattress (read my review here) is a very popular mattress, generally, in the UK – even for those without back issues.

Honestly, it’s a great choice for anyone who suffers with sciatica or any other type of lower back pain. Why? Because it consists of 3 layers, with 2 of them being memory foam. This is in addition to a supportive layer that offers 7 different zones of support. The result is a mattress that provides ample cushioning and plenty of support. This is without too much of the sinking feeling that it often associated with memory foam mattresses.

The great thing about the Nectar Sleep mattress is that you get a full year to try it out and make sure that it’s right for you.

So if it’s not, you know you can return it and get something more suitable. It also comes with a warranty for life, giving you complete peace of mind that you are buying a mattress that will offer good support for a long time. This makes the Nectar Sleep excellent value for money as it’s very cheap compared to many other mattresses out there.

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2. Emma Original – Best for Couples

Emma Sleep, who you’ve no doubt heard of already, are another popular ‘bed-in-a-box’ mattress brand that are extremely popular across Europe, mainly due to their low prices and comfy mattresses that appeal to many.

The Emma Original mattress is one of my recommended mattresses for anyone with sciatica because it was actually designed to provide ample cushioning around the sciatic nerve, which originates in the buttock and runs down the thigh and lower leg.

The mattress features a top layer of Airgocell foam that allows for airflow and keeps the sleeping surface cool during the night, which can be especially helpful for people who experience discomfort and pain due to overheating. The middle layer is made of memory foam, which offers substantial pressure relief without the close “hug” feeling of traditional memory foam. That too  can be beneficial for people with sciatica who frequently change sleep positions, as the mattress can adjust to their body without creating unnecessary pressure points.

The Emma mattress comes with a 200-night home trial, which is more than enough time to get used to it. It also comes with a 10-year guarantee too; so you know that you should get at least a decade out of the mattress before the quality begins to be compromised.

Anyone suffering from sciatica may find it helpful to switch sleeping positions a few times during the night, and if you’re seeking for a supportive yet soft mattress that will relieve strain and provide enough cushioning to let oyu do that, the Emma Original mattress really is an excellent choice.

Read my full Emma Original mattress review here.

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3. Ergoflex 5G – Best Long-Termer

Ergoflex are much more established than other ‘bed in a box’ mattress providers but it’s possible you haven’t even heard of them…! Actually, Ergoflex have been around for more than 10 years, which incidentally is also the length of their warranty. This proves that Ergoflex are well-received by consumers and that their products can stand the test of time.

The Ergoflex 5G mattress is a 5-layer memory foam mattress made with premium materials that offer supportive body-shaping performance and “zero” partner disturbance. It has a specially-engineered Cool-Sleep airflow layer at its core to help regulate temperature, making it a great option for those who suffer from back pain, circulation problems, or joint complaints.

The mattress is inherently anti-microbial, resistant to dust mites and allergens, and is certified to Certi-Pur & OEKO-TEX 100 standards. While its 30-night trial may not be as long as other companies, it should still be sufficient for most people to get to know the mattress and decide if it’s the right choice for them.

Ergoflex also offers a 10-year warranty and comes available in a variety of sizes in the UK. But one of the biggest advantages is that the reviews are generally positive, with long-term reviews being highly positive, making the Ergoflex 5G a mattress worth considering for those looking for a supportive yet plush mattress.

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4. OTTY Original Hybrid – Best Budget Option

The OTTY Original Hybrid is a very popular mattress among those who suffer from sciatica and other chronic back pain. As well as a generous layer of memory foam, the OTTY mattress also contains pocket springs. This allows the mattress to be both supportive as well as comfortable, and it’s the support from the mattress that relieves the symptoms of back pain such as sciatica.

Like the Emma mattress, the OTTY mattress comes with a free 100-night home trial and a 10 year warranty so you can buy with confidence. If for any reason the OTTY mattress doesn’t relieve the symptoms of your sciatica, then you can return it for a full refund, subject to the terms and conditions.

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How Sciatica Is Worsened by Poor Quality Sleep

Like most types of lower body pain, sciatica can get either better or worse when you lie down to sleep.

Depending on the position in which you sleep, the already compressed sciatic nerves will either experience a build up of pressure or experience some kind of relief. For anyone who suffers from sciatica, adjusting to the healthiest possible sleeping position and choosing a mattress that offers the right level of support are crucial. As well as investing in a good, supportive mattress, there are some bedtime habits that you can develop that will relieve pain and increase the quality of the seep that you get.

  • Have a warm bath. Warm baths can help to reduce muscle tension and prepare your body for sleep. Your body’s core temperature drops when you get out of a warm bath, which initiates mechanisms within the body that trigger sleep.
  • Do some light stretches before bed. If your back tends to ache and feel stiff towards the end of the day, then some stretching can work wonders. This is not a permanent solution though, so it may be best to change your sleeping surface.
  • Elevate the knees. When in bed, you can use a good, comfortable pillow between your legs to keep them slightly bent and elevated. This will release the pressure off the sciatic nerves in the backs of your legs. It also eases the pressure on your lower back.

Best Sleeping Position for Sciatica?

When it comes to buying a new mattress for your sciatica, you will first need to consider the position in which you usually sleep.

Different sleeping positions require different variations of support, and that’s without considering the sciatica element. Some positions are thought to help ease the pain of sciatica, whereas others can amplify them. In the end it depends on the individual, as people have their own preferences on how they like to sleep, as well as their own body’s response to the pain of sciatica.

Side Sleeping

Sleeping on your side is one of the healthiest positions possible in terms of the alignment of your spine, the support of your back, ease of breathing and even the health of your heart. However, side sleepers are more prone to numbness or tingling within the limbs – in particular if they have one of their arms underneath their pillows as they sleep.

You may also find that sleeping on your side helps if you have hip pain. I’ve reviewed the best mattresses for those who suffer from hip pain here.

Those who suffer from sciatica are already at risk from muscle pain as well as numbness. It is therefore important to choose a mattress that will not put pressure around the sensitive areas. For those who sleep on their side this includes the legs, arms, head, lower neck and back. Most side sleepers opt for a medium firmness mattress. However if you are fairly lightweight you may find a softer mattress more comfortable.

Back Sleeping

Sleeping on your back is a relatively healthy way to sleep.

But if you tend to sleep on your back, you may find that an excessively firm or soft mattress causes discomfort and perhaps worsens your sciatica. Finding a mattress that is both supportive of your lower back and comfortable for your hips and other pressure points is essential.

People who suffer from sciatica who prefer to sleep on their backs should look for a mattress that offers a happy medium between softness and firmness. Find a mattress with a zoned support system that cushions your hips and shoulders while giving your back the support it needs.

If your lower back hurts while sleeping, consider putting a thin pillow between your knees. This can relieve stress on the lower back by allowing the spine to keep its normal curvature.

It’s vital to try out several mattress and pillow combinations to discover the one that works best for your body, just as you would with any sleeping position. If your sciatica pain is severe or long-lasting, you should talk to your doctor about what treatment options are available to you.

Stomach Sleeping

Stomach sleeping is not recommended for anyone who suffers from any form of back pain, let alone Sciatica.

If you sleep on your stomach, then gravity will cause your mid-section to be pressed down into the bed. This will create an unnatural curve in the spine. It is for this reason that people who sleep on their stomachs tend to wake up in the morning with stiff and often achy joints.

If you suffer from sciatica and sleep on your stomach then change your pillow first of all. Then it’s well worth trying to sleep in an alternative position – ideally on your side. It’s easier than you think to train yourself to do this. Start off by placing a pillow between your legs. Alternatively, if you have an adjustable bed you will be able to raise your legs or torso in such a way that it will be impossible to sleep on your front.

Best sleeping positions for sciatica

How does sciatica affect your sleep?

So sciatica is a condition that occurs when there is a problem with the sciatic nerves, which run from the lower back, through your bum, down the back of the legs, and all the way to the toes.

The most common cause of sciatica is a pinched or irritated nerve, often due to a herniated disc. Other risk factors canm include poor posture, injury, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, arthritis, or bone spurs.

Symptoms of sciatica typically include radiating pain from the lower back down to the legs and sometimes the feet. It can also 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. Treatment for sciatica may involve anti-inflammatory drugs, ice, or in severe cases, surgery.

People with sciatica often struggle to find a comfortable sleep position due to pressure on the hips and lumbar area.

A mattress that can distribute body weight and support the lower back is essential to help take pressure off the sciatic nerves. For those who experience severe sciatica, 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 temporary relief. As always, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any treatment.

More from WhatMattress...

What to consider when choosing a Sciatica Mattress

Many of us will purchase based predominantly on budget – or in other words, what we can afford, so it’s essential to pick a mattress that doesn’t break the bank.

Frankly, a cheap mattress may seem like a good deal at the time, but it may not hold up well or provide enough support over time. Before going mattress shopping (online or off!), it’s wise to establish a financial limit & price range that works for you.

Here are some other considerations:

  • The quality of materials used in a mattress can have a big impact on its performance and durability. Mattresses made with high-quality materials are less likely to sag or develop indentations over time, which can help ensure that they continue to provide the support and pressure relief needed to relieve sciatica pain. While high-quality materials may come at a higher price point, they are often a worthwhile investment in long-term sleep health.
  • A mattress that is overly soft might cause the hips and shoulders to sink in too deeply, leading to  pressure points that can can aggravate discomfort in those with sciatica, or it m ay not have enough give to support your body’s natural curves.
  • When looking for a mattress to help with sciatic pain, pressure relief should be a top priority: those who sleep on their sides and already have hip pain from sciatica may find that these pressure points make the pain even worse.
  • And finally, because of their ability to mould to the shape of the body and provide extra padding for pressure points, mattresses with memory foam or latex comfort layers are frequently the most effective in relieving pressure.

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That's quite a bold claim, but we're proud of the attention to detail that you're hopefully seeing within our reviews. Our methodology sets us apart from many other review websites. I like to think this is because WhatMattress is only run by two people - Carrie and Anthony. Over the years we've hand-tested multiple mattresses, pillow and other bedding products - so that you don't have to!

Every single mattress is put through its paces using the following tests:

  • We make sure to live with the mattress for at least a week.
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  • And in most cases, we've bought the mattress ourselves and haven't been given a free one.

Verdict

In conclusion, finding the right mattress can be crucial for anyone suffering from sciatica. A mattress that provides adequate cushioning around the sciatic nerve and relieves pressure in the lower back can help alleviate pain and discomfort.

However, it’s important to strike a balance between cushioning and support, and to avoid mattresses that cause deep sinkage in the lower body. Memory foam and latex are popular materials for people with sciatica, as they offer good pressure relief and contouring without sacrificing support.

Shopping for a mattress that fits your needs and budget, considering key factors such as price, quality materials, firmness level, pressure relief, edge support, contouring, temperature regulation, ease of movement, and mattress type, can help you make an informed decision and find the best mattress for your sciatica.

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Which type of mattress is best for sciatica?

Any type of mattress will help relieve the symptoms of sciatica if it provides you with the required level of support. Memory foam or latex mattresses tend to be the most popular though.

What mattress firmness is best for sciatica?

For most people with sciatica, a medium-firm mattress is generally recommended. A medium-firm mattress provides enough support to keep your spine aligned while also offering enough cushioning to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve. This type of mattress can also help alleviate lower back pain that often accompanies sciatica.

Is a hard or soft bed better for sciatica?

Neither a hard or soft bed will necessarily help with the symptoms of sciatica. It’s not so much the firmness of the mattress that matters as the support that it gives you. Some people prefer to sleep on a hard bed whereas others prefer a softer mattress. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to start with a mattress of medium firmness and then adjust accordingly.

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How we reviewed this article:

Edit History:

Our experts continually monitor the mattress & sleep tech space, and we update our reviews & articles when new information becomes available.

  • 2nd May 2023
    Current Article - By Carrie Taylor
  • 11th December 2023
    Checked & Reviewed - By Jean Marshall
  • 23rd March 2023
    Copy Edited - By Carrie Taylor
  • 22nd February 2024
    Reviewed - By Anthony Maxwell

3 comments on “Best Mattress for Sciatica

  1. Not sure how they arrive at their conclusions. With a herniated disc I have great difficulty sleeping. I have tried several of the mattresses given high performance ratings and the all have one thing in common – they do not work as described. At least not for me, because after a very short time they simply failto support.
    Why are the ‘conventional’ mattresses not reviewed? In the past they ave performed way better than the foam options on offer.

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