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As with other types of back pain, sciatica calls for a sleep surface that provides ample cushioning and sturdy support. The best mattresses for sciatica conform to the sleeper’s body without hugging too tightly or sagging excessively, which helps align the sleeper’s spine. Our research indicates memory foam and latex mattresses offer the most comfortable sleep surfaces for those with sciatica.
Read on to learn more about the effects of sciatica on sleep in our buyer’s guide, and get more tips for selecting a mattress. First, you’ll find our picks for the best mattresses for sciatica. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
Hop down to our Buyer’s Guide for a crash course on finding the best mattress for sciatica.
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Brooklyn Bedding Aurora
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Best for Lightweight Sleepers
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Best for Average Weight Sleepers
Loom & Leaf
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Best for Heavyweight Sleepers
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Our Editor’s Pick is the Nectar, a memory foam model currently sold for $799 in a Queen size. This price-point is much lower than that of the average memory foam mattress, but the Nectar offers the same pressure relief as many of its higher-end competitors.
The Nectar is ‘Medium Firm’ (6), making it ideal for sleepers who weigh at least 130 pounds, as well as lighter individuals who prefer firmer surfaces.
The mattress features gel memory foam and standard memory foam comfort layers that provide close conforming and improved spinal alignment, making the Nectar a great option for side and back sleepers with sciatica. It is also optimal for couples because it isolates motion transfer very well and produces no noise when bearing weight.
Nectar offers free shipping for customers in the contiguous U.S., as well as White Glove delivery (including in-home assembly and old mattress removal) at an additional charge. The mattress is backed by a 365-night sleep trial, one of the longest trials available, as well as a nonprorated 10-year warranty.
The Nectar’s memory foam construction provides superior pressure relief, while encouraging healthy spinal alignment—two key mattress qualities for sleepers with sciatica. Moreover, the bed is available in a popular ‘Medium Firm’ setting, offers great motion isolation, and has an excellent price-point, all of which make this bed appealing to a wide range of mattress shoppers.
Flippable mattresses like the Layla are ideal for sleepers with sciatica whose firmness preferences vary from night to night. This all-foam bed features one side that is ‘Medium Soft’ (4) and another side that is ‘Firm’ (7); to adjust the firmness, sleepers only need to flip over the mattress, which is light and easy to lift even by foam bed standards and should not aggravate any existing aches and pains.
The Layla conforms to the sleeper’s body with layers of copper-infused memory foam, a material that improves spinal alignment and alleviates pressure points.
The ‘Medium Soft’ side has an additional layer of convoluted polyfoam for extra cushioning, while the shared support core made from high-density polyfoam helps the bed maintain a comfortable sleep surface. Our research found the mattress is most suitable for side and back sleepers of any weight group.
This mattress is available at a below-average price-point, making it a top-value pick. Layla offers free mattress shipping for customers in the contiguous U.S. The bed is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty, both of which are longer than average.
With its flippable design, the Layla is like two mattresses in one. Even without this quality, the low price-point and quality construction make the Layla a very attractive mattress option for value shoppers.
The first-class construction of the Brooklyn Aurora allows the hybrid bed to conform enough to prevent pressure points, yet maintain a cool and nearly-silent sleep surface. This unique combination makes it popular among couples, light sleepers, and anyone who sleeps hot but loves the hug of a foam bed.
In the support core, 8 inches of pocket coils sit atop a 1-inch polyfoam layer, balancing pressure-relieving contour with responsive bounce. The comfort layer of copper- and gel-infused foams provide additional conforming. All in, the Brooklyn Aurora stacks up to a 13.5-inch profile. This is a plush mattress that feels like sleeping on luxury, while offering practical pain relief.
With multiple firmness options—a ‘Soft’ 3.5, ‘Medium’ 5.5, and ‘Firm’ 7.5—there’s something to support sleepers of all body types. Like many hybrid beds, the Aurora rates well among side and back sleepers.
The cooling contour of the Brooklyn Aurora comes for a higher-than-average price point, but the quality construction, long 120-night sleep trial, and above-average 8+ year lifespan make it worth it. The Brooklyn Aurora is backed by a 10-year warranty.
With the Aurora mattress, Brooklyn Bedding offers premium construction, with the premium pressure relief and sleep experience to match. Three firmness options ensure this bed can suit a wide range of sleepers with sciatica, as well.
Mattresses that conform closely can be beneficial to sleepers with sciatica, especially those in the lightweight group (less than 130 pounds). We’ve selected The Casper for this weight category because it hugs the body closely to alleviate aches and pains and ease pressure along the spine, but the supportive surface is resistant to excessive sagging and should not lead to added discomfort.
Three foam comfort layers – including a middle memory foam layer measuring 4.5 inches thick – provide substantial cushioning. These components also absorb motion transfer very well, which can be helpful for couples who experience movement-related sleep disruptions.
A high-density foam base reinforces the bed to prevent sagging in the sleep surface and minimize sinkage along the edges. The Casper mattress also does not retain as much body heat from sleepers as many of its all-foam competitors, allowing it to sleep relatively cool by comparison.
Casper provides free shipping to customers throughout the contiguous U.S. and most of Canada. The mattress is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
The Casper is a mixed-foam mattress known for its exceptional pressure relief, but it’s its true ‘Medium’ feel that makes it ideal for supporting lightweight sleepers with sciatica. This bed feels plush to sleep on, relieving pressure points.
The Loom & Leaf by Saatva is a memory foam bed with two firmness options, ‘Medium’ (5.5) or ‘Firm’ (8). This makes the bed ideal for people who weigh between 130 and 230 pounds; people in this weight group that prefer close conforming can opt for the softer option, while those who feel most comfortable on minimally conforming surfaces can choose the firmer design.
Both settings provide consistent contouring that can greatly aid those with sciatica. The mattress is made with comfort layers of gel memory foam and standard memory foam, as well as a high-density polyfoam base for added sleeper and edge support.
The breathable organic cotton cover also ensures temperature neutrality and cool, comfortable sleep throughout the night; comparatively, many other memory foam beds sleep fairly hot. Other benefits of the Loom & Leaf mattress include great motion isolation and no noise when bearing weight.
Like other Saatva models, the Loom & Leaf qualifies for free White Glove delivery in the contiguous U.S. This includes in-home mattress assembly and old mattress removal at no extra cost. The mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty, both of which are longer than average.
The Loom & Leaf features a quality construction and two firmness settings, either of which can be supportive for sleepers of average weight. The bed’s memory foam comfort layers conform closely to the sleeper’s body, relieving pressure and supporting healthy spinal alignment.
Finding a comfortable mattress can be challenging for heavier sleepers with sciatica because most beds sink excessively, leading to uneven support and discomfort.
The WinkBed is a notable exception. Its comfort layer includes gel memory foam and pocketed minicoil layers that provide extra cushioning and support to stomach sleepers in any weight group. The mattress also has a compressed cotton ‘lumbar pad’ that is intended to reduce back pain.
The WinkBed is available in three firmness settings – ‘Softer’ (4.5), ‘Luxury Firm’ (6.5), and ‘Firmer’ (7.5) – to accommodate sleepers with different preferences. Additionally, the WinkBed Plus is a ‘Firm’ mattress specifically designed for heavier individuals.
The bed’s pocketed coils are encased in high-density polyfoam, which reinforces the mattress and prevents sinkage around the perimeter where people tend to sit. Like other hybrids, the WinkBed has good airflow and sleeps exceptionally cool, as well.
WinkBed offers free standard delivery throughout the contiguous U.S., as well as White Glove delivery for an extra charge. The mattress is backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty.
Both the WinkBed ‘Firmer’ and Plus mattresses are designed to support sleepers who weigh more than 230 pounds (more than 300 in the case of the WinkBed Plus). With the bed’s zoned support system and lumbar pad, heavier sleepers with sciatica can enjoy targeted pressure relief and improved spinal alignment.
Sciatica is a medical condition characterized by chronic pain that radiates along the sciatic nerve, which travels down the lower back, hips, buttocks, and legs. Most people with sciatica experience pain most prominently on one side of their body, although both sides may be affected.
In addition to chronic pain, sciatica patients routinely experience numbness and weakness on their affected side(s). More serious complications include loss of bladder and bowel function.
As with chronic back pain and other painful disorders like scoliosis, choosing the right mattress can significantly improve sleep quality and duration for people with sciatica. According to customer and owner experiences, people with sciatica typically prefer mattresses made of materials like memory foam and/or latex that conform closely and provide above-average pressure relief.
Additionally, mattresses that isolate motion and produce little to no noise are often most suitable for people with sciatica that need to frequently visit the bathroom during the night.
This guide will explore common causes and symptoms of sciatica, discuss unique sleep considerations linked to the condition, and provide some tips for mattress buyers.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common causes of sciatica include:
Additionally, the Mayo Clinic identifies the following risk factors for sciatica:
The most telling symptom of sciatica is radiating pain that travels down the lower back and hips, then the buttocks and leg on one side (if not both). The pain may range from light to severe, but in most cases the condition will cause moderate discomfort or worse.
Burning and shooting sensations in the affected areas often accompany the pain, as well as numbness and weakness. Some sciatica patients lose control of their bladder and bowel functions, but this symptom is less common.
Mild sciatica may not necessitate medical treatment. For more serious cases, the following treatments may be used:
In order to reduce your risk of developing sciatic nerve pain, the following preventative measures can be taken:
People with sciatica can also address their condition by improving their sleep. For many, a new mattress brings about positive changes in comfort, support, and sleep quality. In the next section, we’ll look at some mattress factors to consider for those affected by sciatic nerve pain.
When shopping for a new mattress, people with sciatica are urged to inquire about the following qualities and characteristics:
When discussing mattresses, ‘support’ refers to a bed’s ability to maintain an even, level surface. Supportive mattresses provide a stable surface throughout the night and help sleepers align their shoulders, spine, and hips, which can alleviate pain and pressure points throughout the body.
Mattresses that are either too firm or too soft often lack proper support. The bed’s support core — the bottom layers — also impact support by reinforcing the topmost layers and bearing the sleeper’s weight.
Firmness is often tied to support, but the two terms refer to different qualities. Firmness is how soft or firm a mattress feels to different sleepers, and is measured on a 1-10 scale with 1 being the softest and 10 being the firmest. Most mattresses sold today fall between a ‘3,’ or Soft, and an ‘8,’ or Firm.
Generally, firmer mattresses are more suitable for heavier individuals (more than 230 pounds) because they provide a comfortable sleep surface without sinking too much. Lighter individuals (less than 130 pounds) may prefer softer mattresses instead; firmer models may not conform closely enough, and pressure points are likelier to develop.
Your sleep position can also impact the most comfortable firmness setting for you. Side sleepers require more cushioning to experience better spinal alignment, so they often prefer softer mattresses. Stomach sleepers, on the other hand, require firmer mattresses that allow the spine to lie flat from neck to pelvis. Back sleepers typically enjoy beds with mid-level firmness ratings.
The table below outlines the most popular firmness settings for different body weights and sleep positions.
|Weight Group||Preferred Firmness for Most Side Sleepers||Preferred Firmness for Most Back Sleepers||Preferred Firmness for Most Stomach Sleepers|
|Below-average (Less than 130 pounds)||3 (Soft) to 5 (Medium)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)|
|Average (130 to 230 Pounds)||4 (Medium Soft) to 6 (Medium Firm)||5 (Medium) to 7 or 8 (Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)|
|Above-average (More than 230 Pounds)||5 (Medium) to 6 (Medium Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)||6 (Medium Firm) to 7 or 8 (Firm)|
Some mattress types, such as memory foam and latex models, are designed to sink beneath the sleeper’s body and form a mold-shaped impression around their unique contours. This helps align the spine, and aids in pressure relief.
Hybrid mattresses with thick comfort layers also conform to a noticeable extent, but innersprings typically provide little to no conforming.
In addition to the comfort layer thickness, overall mattress thickness is another important consideration for sleepers with sciatica. Thicker mattresses (10 inches or thicker) tend to provide better support and closer conforming compared to thinner models.
All of the mattresses we recommend for sleepers with sciatica above have profiles that are 10 inches or thicker. The Brooklyn Bedding Aurora, our Best Luxury Mattress, and the WinkBed, our Best Mattress for Heavyweight Sleepers, are the tallest, measuring 13.5- and 14.5-inches thick, respectively.
The average mattress needs to be replaced every seven years, but the lifespan of a given mattress model may be at least one to two years shorter. As mattresses age, their materials begin to degrade and break down; this can cause sagging and indentations to form in the sleep surface, which both compromise support and often lead to aches and pains.
Motion transfer occurs when a sleeper gets into or out of bed, or shifts positions during the night. Some mattresses isolate this motion transfer and prevent it from spreading to other areas of the bed, while others do not minimize transfer to a noticeable extent.
Motion isolation is important for sleepers with sciatica because they often toss and turn due to discomfort, especially if the sleeper shares his or her bed with another person.
Not surprisingly, louder mattresses tend to affect sleep quality more than quieter ones. Most mattresses made from foam and/or latex are virtually silent, while innersprings, hybrids, and airbeds tend to produce a fair amount of noise.
Quieter beds also cause fewer sleep disruptions for people who share their bed with a sciatica patient who tosses and turns.
We mentioned a variety of mattress types in the previous section, including innerspring, foam, latex, hybrid, and airbeds. Of these, our research indicates that foam and hybrid models are the best mattresses for sciatica.
Both of these mattress types feature foam comfort layers, which excel at providing the pressure relief those with sciatica need. Which is the better option for you will depend on their other unique qualities, which we outline below.
Foam mattresses are made entirely of foam. The support core is made from higher-density polyfoam, while the comfort layers contain softer memory foam and/or polyfoam.
Foam mattresses are known for their pressure-relieving “hug.” When you sleep on a foam mattress, the foams conform closely to your body, filling in gaps between your body and the mattress to provide pressure relief and support healthy spinal alignment.
When it comes to pressure relief, it’s hard to beat a foam mattress. However, their body-hugging cradle also tends to trap body heat, which can be problematic for hot sleepers. Some beds will attempt to counteract this by infusing their foam comfort layers with cooling gel, as seen with our Editor’s Pick, the Nectar mattress.
If breathability is of the utmost importance, a hybrid mattress may be better for a sleeper with sciatica. If breathability is less of a concern, sleepers will enjoy superior pressure relief with a foam bed.
The “hybrid” in hybrid mattresses refers to the use of a coil-based support system and a foam-based comfort layer. This mattress type essentially combines features of both foam and innerspring beds.
Hybrid mattresses offer good conforming, especially if they feature thicker comfort systems, although to a lesser extent than all-foam beds. As a result, they tend to sleep cooler while still offering excellent pressure relief, as hot sleepers who have sciatica will be happy to hear.
The pocketed coil layer also allows for good airflow through the core of the mattress, further improving the temperature neutrality. While these pocketed coils do create some noise potential, the thick comfort layers can help drown it out, so restless sleepers with sciatica are less likely to be disturbed during the night if they or their sleep partner change positions.
As an additional benefit for sleepers with sciatica, some hybrid mattress feature zoned support systems. This means the bed provides reinforcement for heavier parts of the body, especially the pelvis area, which result in improved spinal alignment. The WinkBed, our Best Mattress for Heavyweight Sleepers with Sciatica, has this type of support system.
The average mattress costs more than $1,000 in a Queen size. However, some mattress types (such as memory foam and innerspring models) have lower-than-average price-points compared to other types (such as latex, hybrid, and airbed models).
If you order your mattress online, also take shipping costs into account — especially if you live outside the contiguous U.S., since most U.S.-based brands will only ship mattresses for free within the lower 48 states.
Memory foam, latex, innerspring, hybrid, and airbed mattresses all have unique pros and cons. For people with sciatica, it’s important to consider factors like support, durability, motion isolation, and noise; memory foam and hybrid mattresses tend to outperform other mattress types in these categories.
If the answer is yes and sleep with someone else, then a mattress that isolates motion and produces little to no noise will likely be the best option. Memory foam and latex mattresses typically earn the highest customer ratings for motion isolation and noise potential.
Thicker comfort layers — especially those containing memory foam and/or latex — tend to conform the closest, which helps align the spine and alleviate pressure in areas affected by sciatica.
The vast majority of today’s mattress brands offer sleep trials, which allow customers to test out the mattress for a given length of time (typically 90 nights or longer) and then return the mattress for a full or partial refund if they are not satisfied. Our Editor’s Pick, the Nectar, offers an extremely generous sleep trial of a full 365 nights.
Sleep trials can be a useful way to try out a mattress before committing to a full purchase — but beware of hidden costs, as some brands charge expensive return fees. Others may also have a mandatory “break-in” period, where you need to keep the mattress for up to 60 nights before being able to return it under the trial. The Layla, Aurora, Nectar, and WinkBed all have this requirement.
The mattress warranty is an important consideration, even though most owners never have to use it. Most mattress warranties span 10 years or longer, and some surpass 20 years in length.
However, the length of nonprorated coverage is more important than the overall length. During nonprorated coverage, mattress owners pay little (if anything) to have their bed repaired or replaced when defects occur.
When prorated coverage kicks in, they must pay a percentage of the original price for repairs and replacements, and this percentage often increases with each passing year — resulting in hundreds of dollars in extra costs for some. Some mattress warranties last 10 or more years, but only provide one to two years of nonprorated coverage.
In addition to sleeping on a supportive mattress, individuals with sciatica can further improve their sleep quality with the following sleep strategies and products.
Above, we discussed the optimal firmness settings for each sleep position. To recap:
Regardless of your chosen sleep position, there are ways you can sleep to relieve pressure and improve spinal alignment. For example:
If you experience pain on one side more than the other, avoid sleeping on the painful side. It’s common for people with sciatica to toss and turn during the night so their bodies can find a more comfortable position. Unfortunately, occasionally this results in them sleeping on the painful side.
To keep yourself from turning over onto the painful side, place pillows around your body or put a tennis ball in the pocket of your pajamas. Whenever you try to turn over, the pillows will keep you in place, or your body will react to the ball and stay either on your good side or your back.
Sciatica symptoms can intensify when pressure is placed on the lumbar discs. To reduce pressure in this area, you can sleep with your knees and legs elevated. For maximum comfort, the knees should be more elevated than the legs. Try sleeping with a plush pillow or rolled-up towel beneath your knees (if you’re a back sleeper), or with a thin pillow between your knees (if you’re a side sleeper).
A contoured knee pillow can be a more comfortable option for side sleepers. These are shaped to fit between your knees, with the goal of improving spinal alignment.
If you sleep on your stomach, consider lying with a flat pillow beneath your lower stomach. This can relieve additional pressure in your lower back.
Elevating the knees can help prevent sciatic flare-ups in the lower back. While you can achieve this with a pillow beneath the knees, it can also be done with an adjustable bed which can elevate the whole legs.
Most mattresses today are designed to be compatible with an adjustable bed frame. These allow you to adjust the elevation of different parts of the bed using a remote control.
Learn more in our Guide to the Best Adjustable Beds.
Sleepers with sciatica often require two different categories of pillows: a head pillow, and one (or more) to help with positioning.
When choosing a head pillow, the primary consideration is the pillow’s thickness, or loft. Today’s pillows are categorized into three main loft categories: low loft, medium loft, and high loft.
Side sleepers prefer higher loft pillows, as these can fill in the space between their neck and the edge of their shoulder. Back sleepers enjoy medium to high loft pillows that support the space beneath their neck. Stomach sleepers need only a very low loft pillow, or no pillow at all, so they can maintain as straight a spine as possible.
Generally, people choose their pillow loft by considering their sleep position, head size, shoulder width, and mattress firmness. The table below lists loft preferences based on these factors.
|Thickness Range||Less than 3"||3" to 5"||More than 5"|
|Optimal Head Size||Small||Average||Large|
|Optimal Shoulder Width||Narrow||Average||Wide|
|Optimal Sleeper Weight||More than 230 lbs.||130 to 230 lbs.||Less than 130 lbs.|
|Optimal Mattress Firmness||Soft to medium-soft||Medium-soft to medium-firm||Medium-firm to firm|
For more information, review our Guide to the Best Pillows.
Individuals with sciatica can place additional pillows around their body to achieve a more comfortable night’s sleep. Knee pillows can improve alignment for side sleepers, as can a thin pillow underneath the hips for stomach sleepers.
Back sleepers may find sleeping in a reclining position more comfortable. This can be achieved by elevating both the head and base of an adjustable bed.
Alternately, sleepers can purchase a two-piece wedge cushion (or two wedge pillows). These create a V-shape for the sleeper to lie in, allowing their back and knees to be elevated, much like a recliner. This position effectively relieves pressure in the lumbar area. Ideally, the back wedge should have a higher inclination than the knee wedge.
Instead of a double wedge cushion, the same effect can be achieved by using multiple pillows. Thicker, plumper pillows should be placed behind the back and shoulders to bolster the torso, while thinner pillows can be placed beneath the knees and upper calves.