Sciatica is not a diagnosis itself but a symptom. It describes pain arising from irritation or impingement of the sciatic nerve. This important nerve runs from the lower back to the foot, and pain can be experienced anywhere along it – often occurring in the legs. The legs may also become weaker, and there may be other sensations such as numbness, tingling, or burning.
Many people suffer from sciatica. Among patients with low back pain (LBP), approximately 5-10% also have this form of nerve pain, which means that 2.2% of people in the United States suffer from sciatica annually – a total population of 7.2 million. Many of the people in this group have difficulty getting high-quality sleep.
Tips for better sleep with sciatica
Here are a few strategies you can use so that sciatica does not keep you up at night:
- Establish a bedtime routine. Use stress-reduction techniques before bed, such as deep breathing or meditation. Also try shutting off the TV and digital devices a couple hours prior to sleep to calm your mind.
- Prop up your knees. To relieve pressure on your spinal discs during sleep, lie on your back, bend your knees slightly, and place a couple of pillows beneath them for support.
- Choose water, and stay away from caffeine. Drink filtered water during the day. Having herbal tea at night can be soothing. Try not to have any caffeine or alcohol within the few hours leading up to bedtime as well.
- Look at your mattress. Your mattress should be replaced at least every ten years. If you cannot immediately purchase a mattress, try a foam mattress topper.
- Take a warm bath. The benefits of taking a bath are two-fold: you relax the muscles that surround your sciatic nerve and also release endorphins, which naturally alleviate your pain. Use the same schedule nightly so your routine is established. You could go to bed right after the bath, or follow it with reading or knitting prior to bedtime. You want the water to be warm but not hot. If you would prefer not to take a bath, you could try other forms of heat therapy, such as using a hot water bottle on your lower back.
Getting help for your sciatica
Is your sciatica making you lose sleep or otherwise damaging your quality of life? At Envista Medical, our caring, highly trained team of medical doctors, chiropractors, and other providers have one goal: to help you live a pain-free life.