Choosing a Pillow if You Have Sciatica

woman sleeping

Sciatica is a painful condition, often causing a tingling, burning or stabbing sensation which radiates unpleasantly from the lower back down the back of (usually) one leg.

This can make sleep something of an impossible dream.

But the right configuration of pillows can really help.  Let’s explore what to look for in a pillow if you have sciatica, in the hope of a restful night’s sleep without the annoying tingling, burning or stabbing pain.

From the Surface Up

Before we start talking about pillows, let’s get a bead on your mattress.  Many sciatica sufferers prefer a mattress which is medium-firm to very firm.  Some even use a yoga mat placed on the floor.

So, take a moment to consider the mattress you’re sleeping on.  The right mattress can provide adequate support, allowing you to sleep without being continually disturbed by sciatic nerve pain.

The Wedge

Wedge cushions are great supports for sleeping with sciatica.  Two of them provide you with a recumbent armchair for your bed.

Place one where you rest your head and the other under your knees.  This has the effect of curving your spine in a convex position, taking the pressure off the sciatic nerve.

Alternative Wedge

For some, the wedge is not accessible, due to price point or sleeping arrangements which don’t have enough space.

So, instead, take two large, well stuffed, firm pillows and put them under your head.  Next, take two flatter, firmer pillows and place them under your knees and calves.  This places you in the same position as the wedge, above.


Many people with sciatica find sleeping on their sides painful, so they prevent themselves from rolling over in their sleep with barriers made from pillows.  Just place large pillows on either side of you to keep you on your back.

Contoured Pillow

For people with sciatica who can sleep on their sides, the contoured pillow is a helpful addition to their bed.  Fitting comfortable between the knees, it’s designed to support your spine.

This type of pillow helps take pressure off the spine by keeping it aligned.  When the knees are kept apart, you’re less likely to wake up in pain and you’ll fall asleep much more readily.

Body Pillow

This is another great solution for side sleepers.  The body pillow (especially one made for providing sleep support for sciatica and back pain) is a long pillow which is flexible enough to place your head on, hold against your chest and place between your knees, all at the same time.

Now, that’s bang for your buck!  And maybe even a great night’s sleep without the tingling, burning and stabbing.

You can also try taking a nice, hot bath before bed.  The more relaxed your body is before you turn in, the better night’s sleep you’re likely to get.

If you’re struggling with sciatic nerve pain, then Back & Body Medical is a good resource to have.  We’re a team of multi-disciplinarian clinicians working under one roof to relieve pain.  Contact us.  We can help.

WordPress Video Lightbox