Anyone who deals with lower back pain or sciatica knows that it can be a pain (literally) to fall asleep and stay asleep! The throbbing pain in the lumbar area, the shooting pain down the leg – none of it makes for a comfortable night of sleep.
There are a few reasons someone will develop lower back pain and sciatica, and we will discuss these reasons in great detail in this buyer’s guide. That being said, we are most excited to talk about the best mattresses for sciatica and lower back pain! We’ve got six mattresses that could ease that back pain and sciatica discomfort, allowing for a long, deep sleep.
Sleeping shouldn’t be a pain, so read on to see which of these six mattresses will be the best fit! If you just have general back pain, our list of the best mattresses for back pain may be more helpful to you!
The Best Mattresses For Lower Back Pain And Sciatica
- Saatva – Best Innerspring Mattress
- Casper – Best Value Mattress
- Birch – Best Organic Mattress
- Loom & Leaf – Best Memory Foam Mattress
- WinkBed – Best Luxury Mattress
- Level Sleep – Best Mattress For Side Sleepers
While all of these mattresses should really be able to assist with back pain and sciatica, they are different in terms of firmness, feel, and construction. This makes them a better fit for people with different sleep preferences, so make sure to check out all six to find the right mattress.
Best Innerspring Mattress For Lower Back Pain
The Saatva is a luxury innerspring mattress that features two sets of coils (micro-coils and support coils) along with a plush pillow top. It is also available in two heights (11.5″ and 14.5″), and three firmnesses (Plush Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm). We personally slept on their most popular model, the Luxury Firm, and found it to be a great mattress for dealing with lower back pain and sciatica.
The Saatva Luxury Firm is such a good fit for these conditions because of its impressive balance of comfort and support. The pillow top right on top of the mattress offers some plush comfort while the two sets of coils provide an excellent amount of support. The top of the mattress should contour and relieve pressure for back sleeping and side sleeping while the coils hold up the body and ensure the spine stays in neutral alignment. In addition, the Saatva is zoned so that the lumbar area will receive extra support.
As we will discuss below, keeping the spine in alignment is really the name of the game when it comes to lower back pain and sciatica. A mattress that keeps the head, neck, and spine in one straight line can really cut down on a myriad of pain issues, especially in the lumbar area.
Side sleepers and back sleepers who struggle with back pain and sciatica should definitely try the Saatva out for themselves!
What Makes The Saatva Mattress Stand Out?
- The Saatva is the best innerspring mattress for lower back pain relief because it offers a balance of comfort and support.
- The mattress should feel supportive and comfortable for back sleepers and side sleepers.
- The Saatva offers a traditional innerspring feel which is similar to what people would on a nice hotel mattress.
- The breathable cover and airflow-promoting coils should make for a cooler night of sleep.
Read the full Saatva mattress review
Saatva is a great value that happens to be both comfortable and supportive at the same time. You can save $100 on a Saatva mattress simply by clicking the link below.
Best Value Mattress
No matter what type of mattress shoppers are looking for, budget is always a major consideration. While all of these mattresses offer a lot of bang for the buck, the Casper is the most affordable.
While the Casper Original does come in a Hybrid model, we would like to focus on the all-foam model, a great foam mattress for lower back pain. The Casper is no simple foam mattress, however. It features a Zoned Support system that makes it the perfect option for back pain and sciatica.
The Zoned Support system is found in the second layer of the Casper and it basically consists of memory foam that is firmer toward the center. Given that the mattress is firmer under the lumbar area, it helps keep the spine neutrally aligned no matter what position one sleeps in. Also, back sleepers should feel like it is more supportive, while side sleepers should feel like it is softer and more pressure-relieving.
While the Casper Original is a foam mattress, it is not slow-moving like some memory foam mattresses. Memory foam mattresses can make it difficult to move around and change positions but, with the more responsive Casper, it should be a cinch.
Finally, the Casper is the best value option on this list. It is the most affordable mattress and, even though it costs less, still provides amazing lumbar support.
What Makes The Casper Mattress Stand Out?
- The Casper Original is a comfortable and supportive mattress sold for a value price.
- The Casper Original is available in an all-foam model and a hybrid model.
- The mattress is soft and responsive, making it easy to move around at night.
- The Zoned Support makes it a good fit for multiple sleeping positions.
- The Casper’s AirScape technology should keep the mattress from trapping an extreme amount of heat.
Read the full Casper mattress review
Casper is a great value that is also a great fit for all three sleeping positions. You can get $100 Off a Casper mattress simply by clicking the link below and using code MATTRESSCLARITY.
Best Organic Mattress For Lower Back Pain
Birch By Helix
Other lower back pain sufferers are searching for a mattress that is more eco-friendly and is free of harmful chemicals. These people should be focusing on an organic mattress and our personal favorite for back pain is the Birch by Helix! It is a hybrid mattress that features organic wool, Talalay latex, and individually-wrapped coils. While this is not a 100% organic mattress, the top layers are made from all-natural, eco-friendly materials.
Given that it is a hybrid mattress, the Birch by Helix provides that balance of comfort and support that should help lessen back pain and sciatic discomfort. The Talalay latex is dense and supportive, but it should still let the hips sink in the perfect amount. Beneath that, the individually-wrapped coils offer even more support, so even heavier sleepers should feel taken care of on the Birch.
The Birch by Helix also comes with an optional pillow top. Without the pillow top, the mattress feels firmer and, with the pillow top, it feels considerably softer. Back sleepers could go with either version, but side sleepers will want to opt for the pillow top.
Latex mattresses like the Birch are also extremely durable, and this is something that should be attractive to those with back pain or sciatica. If a mattress sags, it is no longer going to keep the sleeper’s spine neutrally-aligned. With the Birch by Helix, sleepers can get the comfort and support they need for years to come.
What Makes The Birch By Helix Stand Out?
- The Birch by Helix is an organic mattress that is free of harmful chemicals.
- The optional pillow allows shoppers to choose their preferred firmness.
- The Birch by Helix is an extremely durable mattress, so it should not sag too quickly.
- Latex hybrids such as the Birch are breathable and cooling, so they should work well for hot sleepers.
Read the full Birch by Helix mattress review
The Birch is a comfortable and supportive latex mattress. Save $200 on the Birch by clicking the button below.
Best Memory Foam Mattress For Lower Back Pain
Loom & Leaf
When it comes to pain relief, few mattress materials can compete with memory foam. This soft material is known for offering soothing pressure relief and hard-to-beat comfort. Out of the hundreds of memory foam mattress on the market, we think the Loom and Leaf is the best for sleepers with sciatica and back pain.
The Loom and Leaf is an online mattress that contains multiple layers of high-density memory foam. While the foams found in the Loom and Leaf are extremely comfortable, they are also quite supportive. As we’ve mentioned with these other mattresses, a mattress needs to have both comfort and support in order to ease lower back pain.
Also, while memory foam mattresses have a nasty habit of trapping heat, this shouldn’t be a problem with the Loom and Leaf. This is because the mattress features a cooling gel layer toward the center of the mattress. This keeps the top of the mattress from overheating and also provides extra lumbar support for back sleepers and side sleepers.
Those who struggle with back pain and want a soft and comfortable mattress should set their sights on the Loom and Leaf.
What Makes The Loom And Leaf Stand Out?
- The Loom and Leaf is a comfortable memory foam mattress that should ease lower back pain and sciatica pain.
- The mattress features high-density memory foam that should offer comfort and support without sagging.
- The Loom and Leaf’s cooling panel should prevent sleepers from overheating on the mattress.
Read the full Loom and Leaf mattress review
Loom And Leaf is a perfect choice for those looking for a luxury memory foam feel but don't want to sleep hot. Save $100 on Loom And Leaf simply by clicking the button below.
Best Luxury Mattress
When some people think of the perfect mattress, they imagine something they might have experienced in a nice hotel during some unforgettable vacation. Anyone who wants to have this feeling every night should consider the WinkBed mattress.
The WinkBed is a luxury innerspring mattress that is available in four firmnesses: Softer, Luxury Firm, Firmer, and PLUS (made just for larger people). All four versions of the mattress feature two sets of coils, similar to what we saw with the Saatva mattress. Also, they feature a pillow top, but its plushness will depend on which firmness shoppers select.
We personally found the WinkBed Luxury Firm model to have the best balance of comfort and support for people with lower back pain. The top is plush but not too plush and lets the hips sink in the right amount when back sleeping and side sleeping. Also, the mattress features zoning in the coils to provide extra lumbar support.
The WinkBed is a truly luxurious mattress, so shoppers who want something nicer to ease their pain should take a look at the WinkBed.
What Makes The WinkBed Stand Out?
- The WinkBed is available in four firmnesses, giving shoppers a chance to get the right amount of comfort and support
- The WinkBed mattress has a luxury look and feel similar to those found in a high-end hotel.
- The mattress is designed to be breathable, making it a good option for hot sleepers.
- The WinkBed is extremely durable, so it should stand up to many years of use.
Read the full WinkBed mattress review
Winkbeds has a mattress that is an excellent balance of comfort and support. You can get $200 off the Winkbeds mattress by clicking the link below and using code MC200 at checkout.
Best Mattress For Side Sleepers With Lower Back Pain
Anyone who has read the above entries on our list might have noticed a common theme – neutral spinal alignment. As we will discuss below, this is so important for all types of sleepers, but especially those who have lower back issues. Our last mattress, the Level Sleep, is designed specifically to keep the spine in proper neutral alignment.
How does it do this? Well, it features a TriSupport layer which is similar to the Zoned Support found in the Casper (it is firmer toward the center of the mattress). However, unlike the Casper, the mattress is much softer under the shoulder area and medium-firm toward the foot of the mattress. Simply put, the zoning in the Level Sleep is much more pronounced than the Casper’s Zoned Support.
This proprietary zoning provides extreme lumbar support while allowing the rest of the body to sink in in the right areas. Back sleeping, we felt the zoning really press up into our lumbar area. Side sleeping, we felt little pressure on our shoulders and hips, and the center zone filled the gap between our rib cage and hips.
The Level Sleep has also been clinically tested and has been shown to promote healthy spinal alignment and healthy sleep as well.
What Makes The Level Sleep Stand Out?
- The Level Sleep’s TriSupport system provides some of the best lumbar support we have ever experienced.
- The zoning makes the mattress a great fit for back sleepers and side sleepers with lower back pain.
- The mattress has been clinically proven to maintain proper neutral spinal alignment.
Read the full Level Sleep mattress review
Level Sleep is a smartly designed mattress that is an excellent choice for those with back pain and is comfortable in any sleeping position. You can get 20% off a Level Sleep mattress by clicking the link below and using code CLARITY20.
What Is Sciatica?
A lot of people think sciatica is a health condition in its own right, but it’s actually a symptom that could result from a variety of health issues or other causes.
Per the Mayo Clinic, the word “sciatica” describes pain that occurs along the sciatic nerve. This long nerve extends from the lower back, through the hips and rear end, and down both legs. People can experience sciatica pain anywhere along this nerve. Most commonly, sciatica pains radiate from the base of the nerve (in the lower back) into the buttocks and perhaps down one of the legs into the thigh and/or calf.
Sciatica pain is a very common complaint. The Cleveland Clinic estimates that approximately 40% of people in the U.S. will experience sciatica at some point in their life.
Because sciatica is a symptom, it can manifest in a lot of ways. Think of it like the common cold: A runny nose is a symptom, but it can mean different things for different people. Some people constantly blow their noses to contain all the mucus, while others just sniffle more than usual.
With sciatica, the pain can range from mild to excruciating. It could feel dull or like a burning sensation or electric shock. Sometimes it manifests as numbness, muscle weakness, or a tingly sensation. The pain could be constant, or it might come and go. Some people find that sciatica is exacerbated by coughing, sneezing, or sitting for an extended period.
When To See A Doctor For Sciatica
In most cases, sciatica symptoms go away over time.
However, people experiencing sciatica should seek medical treatment if:
- The pain results from an injury
- The pain is sudden and severe
- The pain lasts longer than a week
- The pain gets progressively worse
- Their leg stays numb for a prolonged period
- They have trouble controlling their bowels or bladder
In severe cases, a doctor might advise a variety of treatment options including spinal injections or surgery.
What Causes Sciatica?
Several issues can cause sciatica, with some being more serious than others. As a general rule, sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is pinched, compressed, irritated, or inflamed.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, known causes of sciatica include:
- A herniated or slipped disc, which could place pressure on the root of the sciatic nerve
- Degenerative disk disease, which wears down the disks between the spine’s vertebrae. This shrinks the space between vertebrae, which narrows nerve passageways and can pinch the sciatic nerve
- Injury to the lumbar spine or the sciatic nerve itself (such as a car accident)
- Osteoarthritis, which can create bone spurs that compress the nerves in the lower back
- Piriformis syndrome, a neuromuscular disorder marked by spasms of the piriformis muscle. This muscle sits deep in the buttocks, and when it spasms it can irritate the sciatic nerve
- A slipped vertebra (dubbed spondylolisthesis), which narrows the space between vertebrae and can pinch the sciatic nerve
- Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal. Like degenerative disk disease, this shrinks the space available for the sciatic nerve and can cause pinching
- Tumors in the lumbar spinal canal, which can compress the sciatic nerve
- Cauda equina syndrome, a rare condition that impacts the bundle of nerves at the end of the spinal cord
Risk Factors For Sciatica
Per the Mayo Clinic, several factors may increase a person’s risk of developing the conditions that can lead to sciatica. These include:
- Age (older people are more prone to herniated disks and osteoarthritis)
- Occupations or hobbies that involve carrying heavy loads or twisting the back
- Prolonged sitting
- Poor posture (while sitting, standing, and/or working out)
Can Sciatica Be Caused By A Bad Mattress?
A bad mattress doesn’t typically show up on lists of sciatica causes, but it’s certainly not going to help. That’s true for several reasons.
For starters, mattresses can play a big role in supporting healthy spinal alignment — or not. A bad mattress that doesn’t help the sleeper’s spine stay properly aligned could contribute to misalignment issues. Long-term misalignment of the spine (especially in the lower back) could place undue pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Additionally, according to an article published by Harvard Health, many people find their sciatica gets worse during prolonged periods of lying down. This is the case even in the best of conditions, so imagine how much worse someone might feel if they’re lying on an unsupportive or uncomfortable mattress.
If someone notices that their sciatica pain tends to feel worse when they wake up in the morning, this could indicate that their mattress is exacerbating their condition.
RELATED: Best Mattress For Hip Pain 2020
What To Look For In A Mattress For Sciatica
For a long time, the general rule of thumb was that people suffering from any kind of back pain should opt for a firm mattress. Nowadays, that thinking is being revamped.
Contemporary research suggests the ideal mattress for back pain sufferers is one that feels medium-firm (and comfortable) to the person who sleeps on it. So sciatica sufferers may want to look for a medium-firm mattress that offers a balance of support and comfort.
Beyond medium-firmness, here are a few others factors to look for in a mattress for sciatica:
- Spinal alignment. As we discussed above, spinal alignment is key for all sleepers and especially for people who suffer from sciatica. Make sure any mattress you purchase is designed to support spinal alignment in your preferred sleeping position(s).
- Pressure relief. In addition to providing support for the spine, the best mattress for sciatica will offer some pressure relief for added comfort. This is extra important for side sleepers; pressure relief around the hip is key.
- Durability. Research consistently finds that older mattresses often contribute to back pain because they no longer provide adequate spinal support. Look for a mattress that will remain supportive over the long haul with the use of durable materials, such as latex or innersprings. Take a look at our list of the best mattresses that won’t sag for more durable mattresses.
- Flexibility. People who switch positions during the night will want to look for a mattress that provides balance and support in all of their preferred positions.
- Motion isolation. Sciatica sufferers may shift around during the night in an effort to regulate pain. This means they might keep their partner up at night due to their tossing and turning. A mattress that minimizes motion transfer can help the partner get better sleep.
- Trial periods. A mattress might look good online or feel great in the store, but things can change after sleeping on it for several nights. Look for a mattress that offers a decent trial period so there’s time to determine whether the mattress is a good long-term fit.
- Sleeper’s size and weight. A person’s size and body weight can impact how they experience the feel and firmness of a mattress. Heavyweight sleepers will need a supportive mattress and a thicker comfort layer in order to feel both comfortable and supported, while lighter-weight sleepers will probably get adequate pressure relief from a thinner comfort layer.
- Edge support. If sciatica makes it harder to get in and out of bed, then it’s important to look for a mattress with strong edge support. This strengthens the sides of the mattress and can make it easier to climb in and out.
- Temperature regulation. Temperature regulation doesn’t relate directly to sciatica, but it does relate to comfort. Sleeping hot can make it harder to fall and stay asleep even under the best circumstances, so look for a mattress that’s designed with temperature regulation in mind.
- Price. Everyone has their own budget when it comes to making a new mattress purchase. While mattress shopping, keep an eye on prices so there aren’t any surprises at checkout.
What Type Of Mattress Is Best For Sciatica?
As noted above, the best type of mattress for sciatica is generally one that provides a mixture of comfort and support, feels somewhere in the medium-firm range, and feels comfortable to the person (or people) who sleeps on it.
Luckily, it’s possible to find these qualities in a variety of mattress types. This can help sciatica sufferers find an appropriate mattress for their symptoms while also meeting their preferences in terms of materials, feel, and so on.
Innerspring mattresses can provide nice spinal support for back sleepers and stomach sleepers. They also tend to sleep fairly cool, because the space between the coils allows for plenty of airflow through the mattress. Make sure to look for an innerspring mattress with a comfort layer that will relieve pressure and reduce hotspots.
Memory foam mattresses help evenly distribute weight and relieve pressure points, especially for side sleepers. It’s important to look for a mattress that balances contouring memory foam with more supportive layers for spinal alignment. Also keep in mind that some memory foam beds may trap heat.
Hybrid mattresses can be ideal for folks with sciatica or other forms of back pain, because they generally provide the best of both worlds: supportive coils and a contouring comfort layer. The coils allow for more airflow through the mattress, which can help people sleep cooler.
Latex mattresses are similar to memory foam mattresses in that they contour the body, which can relieve pressure. They also tend to be cooling and allow for more mobility than memory foam, and natural latex is environmentally friendly.
Airbed mattresses (not to be confused with air mattresses) are great for folks with any kind of pain, because they allow sleepers to adjust the feel and firmness of the bed depending on their pain levels or intended sleep position.
How Does Sciatica Impact Sleep?
Sciatica can have a negative impact on sleep quality. That’s because sciatica causes pain and discomfort that might make it hard to get comfortable enough to fall and stay asleep.
Per the Harvard Health article cited above, many people find their sciatica pain gets worse when they lie down for extended periods. This means people might experience a pain flareup right when they’re trying to obtain restful sleep.
This is a double-edged sword. Sciatica can make it harder to obtain quality sleep, and failing to sleep well might exacerbate sciatica pain. A review published in The Journal of Pain found that poor sleep quality can worsen people’s experience of pain.
Additionally, suffering from pain can take a toll on a person’s mental health. The anxiety, depression, or stress caused by pain might make it more difficult to obtain quality sleep. Here’s another double-edged sword: Not sleeping well can exacerbate anxiety, stress, and depression.
How Do Sleeping Positions Impact Sciatica?
A person’s preferred sleeping position will always have an impact on their sleep quality and spinal health. This is true even for people without sciatica, and it’s certainly true for people who are dealing with sciatica pain.
Various sleeping positions can impact sciatica in different ways.
Provided someone is sleeping on a supportive mattress, back sleeping is often the best sleeping position when it comes to spinal health. A supportive mattress keeps a back sleeper’s hips elevated and in line with the spine, which reduces strain on the lumbar region. This is especially important for sciatica sufferers, because the lumbar region contains the sciatic nerve. That said, a mattress that is too firm or too soft won’t provide the same support when it comes to sustaining spinal health.
RELATED: Best Mattress For Back Sleepers
Side sleepers often experience hotspots around the shoulder and/or hip. If someone with sciatica feels pain in their hip and tries to side sleep on a mattress that puts pressure on the hip, this can exacerbate pain. That said, a mattress that relieves pressure around the hip could be ideal for a side sleeper with sciatica. Make sure to read our post on the best mattresses for neck and shoulder pain as well as our informative article on how to sleep with neck and shoulder pain.
Spinal support is also an important consideration when side sleeping. While pressure relief around the hip is important, a mattress that’s too soft in this area can allow the hip to sink too far into the mattress and throw the lumbar spine out of alignment. This could exacerbate compression of the sciatic nerve.
One other note about side sleeping and sciatica: Because sciatica tends to occur only on one side, some people may find that side sleeping on the opposite side helps them sleep more comfortably.
On all but the most supportive mattresses, sleeping on the stomach can cause the hips to sink too far into the mattress, which throws the spine out of alignment and can strain the lower back. For this reason, stomach sleeping is often not ideal for people with sciatica. Make sure to take a look at our best mattresses for stomach sleepers as well.
Tips For Sleeping Better With Sciatica (In Any Sleep Position)
No matter a person’s preferred sleep position, using pillows as props and following a few simple guidelines can promote more comfortable sleep. In all cases, the key is to strive for healthy spinal alignment:
- Back sleepers can experiment with placing a pillow under their knees. This can help support the natural curve in the lumbar spine.
- Back sleepers who notice a gap between their lower back and the mattress can place a small, rolled up towel into the gap to ensure the lumbar region is properly supported.
- Side sleepers can try placing a pillow between their knees. This helps keep the hips, pelvis, and spine in alignment.
- Side sleepers who notice a gap between their waist and the mattress can tuck a small pillow or rolled-up towel into the gap to support healthier lumbar alignment.
- Stomach sleepers can try placing a pillow under their abdomen. This helps support the lumbar spine and relieves strain in this area.
Here’s a recap of the best mattresses for lower back pain and sciatica:
|Saatva||Best Innerspring Mattress|
|Casper||Best Value Mattress|
|Birch||Best Organic Mattress|
|Loom & Leaf||Best Memory Foam Mattress|
|WinkBed||Best Luxury Mattress|
|Level Sleep||Best Mattress For Side Sleepers|
What kind of mattress is best for lower back pain?
A mattress with a good balance of comfort and support is going to be best for back pain. Hybrid mattresses, for example, have soft foam materials on top and more supportive coils on the bottom. A mattress that strikes this balance well will help keep the spine in neutral alignment while people are sleeping. Shoppers might also want to consider a mattress with a zoned construction because it will provide additional lumbar support.
What kind of mattress is best for sciatica pain?
Those who deal with sciatica pain should find a mattress that balances comfort with support. This will help keep the spine neutrally aligned while sleeping. If the spine is out of alignment, this can compress the sciatic nerve. All types of mattresses can help with this condition, but they need to be comfortable, supportive, and also provide good lumbar support.
How should I sleep with lower back pain?
There are a few ways a person can sleep to deal with lower back pain. Back sleepers can place a pillow under their knees, and side sleepers can place a pillow between their knees. Stomach sleeping is not a good position for lower back pain. However, if someone must sleep in this position, they can place a pillow under the stomach near the pelvis.
Can sciatica be caused by a bad mattress?
It is unlikely that a bad mattress will be the main reason for sciatica. However, a mattress that does not keep the spine in neutral alignment can surely exacerbate sciatica symptoms.