Sciatica and Sleep
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Whether it’s a chronic condition or just a temporary setback that resulted from an injury, suffering from sciatica is no cake walk. There are a lucky few who only experience sporadic pain and slight numbness in their thighs, and it doesn’t affect their daily lives at all. But for most people, being diagnosed with sciatica means living a life full of problems and setbacks. People who suffer from severe sciatica live with reduced mobility and pain severe enough to interfere with their daily life. That means sports are out of the question, any kind of running and lifting too, as well as driving for long periods of time.
What you might not know about sciatica is that it can often mess with your sleep. The sharp pain often makes falling asleep hard and tiring, and when you do eventually do manage to fall asleep, the stabbing sensation will keep waking you up. This is an issue that affects almost all the people who suffer from sciatica, but it almost never gets mentioned. So people often assume that they’re the problem and ignore the underlying issue that prevents them from leading normal, quality lives.
If you identify with this, keep reading as there are a few things you could do to make sleeping with sciatica much easier.
How To Sleep With Sciatica
- Try taking a warm bath before you go to sleep.
Skip the shower and soak yourself in warm bubbly water for a while. The water will help your muscles relax and reduce the pressure they put on your sciatic nerve. Having trouble sleeping makes you stressed out, and being stressed out prevents you from falling asleep. A bath will have a relaxing calming effect on your mind too, so you’ll be able to distress before you hit the bed.
- Have a bedtime yoga routine
Staying active is the best and healthiest way to reduce the symptoms of sciatica. If you’re looking for more specifics, check out my page on yoga exercises for Sciatica. However, running around the block at midnight won’t do you any favors when trying to fall asleep. Instead, do a slow and easy yoga routine before going to bed. Yoga won’t get your heart racing and it’ll help you make your mind at ease. There are many different yoga poses you can do that target the area affected by sciatica, and most of them will give you an instant sensation of relief. It should keep you pain-free for at least a couple of hours, enough to fall soundly asleep. And when you keep doing it for some time, your body will get used to it and you’ll start getting sleepy before you even start the routine.
- Take an over-the-counter analgesic
Unless your doctor specifically told you not to, it should be safe to go for an over-the-counter painkiller before you go to sleep. Any type of analgesic pain relief drug will do – Advil, Tylenol, or any other medication that contains ibuprofen. Eat a nice fulfilling dinner, take a bath, stretch out a bit and take half a tablet of your analgesic of choice. It’ll help your body stay relaxed long enough for you to get a much needed good night sleep. And if you follow the instructions and the recommended daily dose you’ll be safe to use it for prolonged periods of time without any danger to your health.
Get To Know The Best Sciatica Sleeping Positions
When you finally manage to fall asleep, your sciatica-related problems don’t come to an end. Knowing how to successfully sleep with sciatica is an entirely separate subject.
The important thing is knowing where your pain is and what triggers it. No two sciatica cases are the same, so you have to do a bit of analyzing to see where you fit. If your pain is constant both throughout the day and night and no specific position triggers it, then I suggest sleeping in any position you like and taking a light painkiller before bedtime. Getting in a relaxed state of mind will make your body more at ease and make the sleeping as smooth and as pain-free as possible.
If your pain is stabbing and recurring, and limited to one side of your body, then I suggest taking one of the following steps. If you sleep on your back, try sleeping with your knees elevated on a pile of pillows – it reduces the weight with which your legs pull on the pelvis, and it helps reduce the pressure on your spinal disc. If you sleep on your side, try sleeping with pillows or blankets between your legs. Lie on the side that isn’t painful and put one pillow below your leg and the other between your legs. This way, you’ll spend the night with a very relaxing and comforting stretch in your hips that reduce the tightness in your sciatic nerve. You can also opt for ergonomic pillows instead of fluffy ones. Stack them so your neck is in line with your spine and I guarantee you’ll wake up without a headache or a stiff neck.
Some people also find that, no matter what position they’re in, it’s much easier for them to sleep on harder surfaces. You can try sleeping on a couple of yoga mats or in a sleeping bag. It’s not the most hygienic or the most comfortable solution, but it won’t hurt to give it a shot.
If you have problems with staying still throughout the night, try putting a tennis ball in the pocket of your pajamas. Sounds strange, I know, but it’ll keep you from rolling over and lying on the painful side of your body. You don’t need to do this always, though. It’ll only take a week or so before you get used to sleeping just on your good side, and you won’t have to worry about waking up in pain anymore.
Another sciatica sleeping position you could try is sleeping in a recliner. Many people with sciatica claim it’s the only way they can manage to sleep through the night, so it’s worth giving it a try. Tilt it back as far as possible and try sleeping in a sort of half-seated position. Your weight will be distributed in a way that can’t be achieved in a bed, keeping your back straight and your nerve free of all the pressure that comes with lying down.