There have been many products available in the market that promises pain relief in patients suffering from Sciatica. However, the most disregarded part of the treatment for Sciatica is relaxation and proper sleeping positions. Sleep is an integral part of treatment for any disorder or illness. This also applies to people suffering from Sciatica as it allows the body to recuperate from the damage that has been brought onto the nerves. It also relaxes the mind and body which helps in reduction of inflammation, stiffness, and swelling of both the muscles and joints. But sleeping is not enough, proper sleeping positions should be implemented if you don’t want to worsen your condition. Improper sleeping positions result to increased pressure on the sciatic nerve which can increase the pain, worsen the condition, and might even result to debilitating consequences.
So what is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a type of pain that usually starts at your lower back and radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve thus affecting the hips, groin, and legs. For people suffering from sciatica, everyday activities can be a burden even debilitating if the condition is severe. Sleeping can also be challenging because the wrong position can even worsen the pain.
So what are the recommended positions for those with Sciatica that can enhance comfort when sleeping or simply resting on the bed?
There is actually no scientific proof that supports the best position during sleep for people with sciatica. However, healthcare practitioners recommend positions that reduce bending of the spinal column and vertebrae. Keeping the vertebrae aligned reduces pressure on the sciatic nerve thereby reducing the risk of experiencing radiating pain.
Here are some tips to get you comfortable during sleep and prevent further pressure on your sciatic nerve. These are some of the most basic tips that are advised to people suffering from Sciatica to help improve sleeping conditions and facilitate relaxation to the most comfortable level as possible.
Choose a harder mattress. While it is tempting to sleep on a cloud-like and fluffy mattress, people suffering from sciatica should prefer a harder and firmer mattress to prevent sagging of the back when back pain and sleep are there. A softer mattress tends to droop with the weight of the body which results to bending of the vertebrae and putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. When this happens, it’s either you will not be able to get to sleep or your sleep pattern will eventually be disrupted as you wake up to excruciating sciatic pain. However, make sure that you do not choose a very hard mattress as it will further accentuate the curve on the lower back.
Align your neck with your spine. The neck area should not be kept below or above the spine. It should be in the same level with the vertebrae to minimize neck pain when waking up. This can be done by obtaining pillows that are specially shaped to give support to the neck area. Most of these pillows are made up of memory foam which are firm and yet comfortable to sleep with. While most people prefer to put more pillows under the head for comfort, this practice may not be so good especially for people with sciatica as it tends to worsen the pain instead of reducing it.
Relieve pressure from the sciatic nerve. If you sleep on your side, place a firm pillow between your two knees and bring your top knee slightly towards your head. This position alleviated pressure on the sciatic nerve and keeps the spinal cord at a neutral position. If, on the other hand, you sleep on your back, then place a firm pillow under your knees to keep them in slightly above your hips. This positions the vertebrae at a neutral pose and relieves pressure on the sciatic nerve. These positions make sleep more comfortable and enhance relaxation. Just make sure that when you change positions in between, the pillows will be kept in place to support your knees so as not to place excessive pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Take a warm shower prior to sleep. Enjoying a warm shower before going to bed relaxes your muscles and improves blood circulation. This can also help relieve inflammation and reduce pain thus making it easier to sleep.
Do not sleep on your abdomen. This can be a relaxing position for some people, but it is a worse position for those people suffering from sciatica. Not only does it put stress on the neck and shoulder muscles but also accentuates the curvature of the lumbar area. Even if you bend your knee, the pressure is on the sciatic nerve will not be reduced and will just disrupt your sleep pattern.
Consult your healthcare provider for proper evaluation. The positions mentioned above may not be necessarily applicable for all people suffering from sciatica as one case differs from another. Also, people have differing sleeping habits that are needed to be considered. Thus, it is essential to seek proper medical advice so that other factors can be considered and the appropriate sleeping positions can be implemented.
With these tips, you can now sleep more comfortably and with fewer worries. You don’t need to let Sciatica ruin your good night sleep.