Sciatica pain can derail your enjoyment of day-to-day life. When the pain occurs at night or right when you wake up, that’s a sign that your mattress might be causing flare-ups and triggering pain.
This guide will show you the best mattress for sciatica and help you decide between different options. If you have sciatica, getting a new mattress might be more than beneficial- it might be necessary.
Let’s get started!
What is a Mattress for Sciatica (And How Do They Work)?
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a painful sensation that starts in the lower back and shoots down one leg. It can be very painful and is caused by many things but most commonly bone spurs and herniated disks. Sciatica got its name because the pain comes from the sciatic nerve; when bone spurs and other issues disturb the nerve, pain from sciatica begins. About one-third of US adults will experience sciatica at some point in their lives.
Seniors are more likely to experience the pain that comes from sciatica because they are at an increased risk for both bone spurs and herniated disks. Having a recent injury or living a sedentary lifestyle can also lead to the development of sciatica, two more reasons that seniors are more likely to experience it.
How Does a Mattress Help Sciatica?
Mattresses can either be a help or a hindrance to sciatica, depending on the person and the type of mattress. The ones that help the most are mattresses that evenly distribute body weight, align the spine/hips while the user is sleeping, and gently cradle the body. This means that latex and memory foam mattresses are the most likely type of mattress to be useful for relieving sciatica pain.
These mattresses do a great job of relieving pressure and contouring the body. If you have a mattress that you feel is putting extra pressure on your lower back, there is a high chance it is aggravating your sciatica. That means it’s time for you to get a new mattress that will work for you, not against you!
4 Top Mattresses for Sciatica
Best Mattress for Sciatica (Overall): Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Pro Adapt
Tempur-Pedic, one of the best mattress makers in the world, makes very few soft mattresses that are good for sciatica. This one, however, is ideal for seniors who want a luxurious, long-lasting mattress that will bring serious relief to their sciatica pain.
Tempur-Pedic’s mattresses are made with a proprietary memory foam that cushions the body without letting the user sink to the bottom. It’s a responsive foam that, as the name suggests, adapts to the shape and weight of your body.
The only downside of this mattress is that it can get pretty hot at night. If you’re a hot sleeper, it might be wise to opt for a different mattress that is a bit more breathable. Other than that, though, this mattress has all the features needed for people with sciatica! It has multiple layers of soft, adaptive foam that will support and relax your muscles and joints as you sleep.
If you have sciatica, using this mattress will be a source of relief that will be well worth the high price. These mattresses, as some of the best in the world, are also some of the most expensive in the world. However, the benefits you gain from a Tempur-Pedic mattress are almost always worth the expense.
Best Mattress for Sciatica Back and Leg Pain: Stearns & Foster Hurston Cushion-Firm Mattress
Contrary to popular belief, the best mattresses for back pain aren’t always super-plush. Medium-soft and medium-firm mattresses are ideal for most people’s back and leg pain, according to studies. The firmness of a mattress is directly related to its ability to appropriately support the body- too little, and you’ll wake up sore; too much, and you might not fall asleep in the first place!
This cushion-firm mattress from luxury brand Stearns & Foster has an ultra-soft top layer for your sciatica. It also has a nice level of firmness underneath it, keeping your body supported and well-aligned. Stearns & Foster uses a patented coil design to make this innerspring mattress more responsive and adaptive than other innerspring designs that go overboard with firmness.
Choosing a cushion-firm mattress such as this one is a great way to gain relief from sciatic pain, letting your back and legs rest gently atop the soft foam. However, you won’t sink into the mattress as you would with a memory foam model, nor will you wake up sweating at night. The biggest drawback of this mattress is that it will be too firm for some users; no mattress is a universal fit, and the Hurston is no different.
Best Mattresses for Sciatica (Runners-Up)
These mattresses might not have taken the top slots on our list, but they are still very much worth your consideration:
Best Affordable Mattress: Classic Brands Mercer Hybrid
Classic Brands has a 40-year legacy of making mattresses that perform nearly as well as the premium brands- but that only set you back a few hundred dollars. The Mercer will be more than enough for the needs of many seniors who have sciatica, yet it costs less than $500!
If you have sciatica pain that is derailing your day-to-day life and comfort but don’t have a top-dollar budget, this mattress is for you. It has a very similar construction to the Stearns & Foster mattress above, but with a softer overall feel.
While you won’t get the same “best of the best” comfort and performance from this mattress, it is still comfortable and made from high-quality materials. The value for the money is certainly a lot greater with a Classic Brands mattress than it is with most $2,000+ mattresses!
Best for Total-Body Comfort: The Purple Mattress
The Purple Mattress is ranked by JD Power and Associates as the number one mattress-in-a-box in terms of customer satisfaction. The construction of these mattresses is quite unique- just beneath the surface layer is an “egg-crate” grid layer that perfectly cradles your body while simultaneously channeling hot air away from you as you sleep.
The construction of The Purple Mattress is ideal for sciatica; the grid layer is very flexible and responsive, giving your body the exact balance of cushion/support it needs. It will take pressure off of your spine and hips without throwing the rest of your body out of alignment. It’s one of the most balanced and comfortable mattresses on the market, but be warned- it’s also one of the heaviest.
Best Mattress Topper for Sciatica: Bedsure Ergonomic 4-Inch Memory Foam Mattress Topper
This is a very unique mattress topper. It has two layers of foam with different thicknesses, stacked together in an “s-curve” shape. What this means is that the firmest foam layer is concentrated under the heaviest parts of your body, and vice versa. For people with sciatica, this ergonomic design represents the ideal balance of softness and support.
If you’re a side sleeper, you will find this mattress topper extra comfortable; it perfectly aligns the hips with the spine so you can sleep peacefully. Coincidentally, this is also a great thing for people with sciatica; the more accurately your body is aligned, the less likely your sciatica is to flare up while you’re sleeping!
Buying Guide: Best Type of Mattress for Sciatica
What Firmness Mattress is Best for Sciatica?
Studies have shown that a medium firmness is best for reducing back pain, including sciatica. However, you might want to err on the soft side to ensure that your back and hips can relax and decompress.
The less pressure felt by your hips, the better. This means that the mattress needs to be firm enough to hold up your body but not so firm that it puts undue pressure on you and triggers sciatica. It’s wise to look for mattresses labeled as “medium-soft” or “cushion-firm”. That will, at least, help you rule out options that go too far in either direction of firmness.
What is the Best Mattress Brand for Sciatica?
Tempur-Pedic, even though their mattresses are very expensive, takes the cake on this question. They have patented memory foam that performs better than other types and takes all the pressure off of your body, preventing sciatica flare-ups. Plus, all Tempur-Pedic mattresses are made from start to finish in the USA and come with a 10-year full warranty!
If you cannot afford a Tempur-Pedic mattress, other brands like Casper, Purple, and Sealy Posturepedic are great choices. Each of these companies has mattress options that, while not cheap, are more affordable and perform very well for people with sciatica.
How to Choose a Mattress for Sciatica
Try Them Out
Before buying a mattress, head to a department store or mattress showroom to test out a few different models. Even if you don’t buy a mattress in the store (usually, you can get a better deal online), try to see how different firmness ratings feel on your back. This will give you a good sense of what firmness you should choose when you buy a mattress online.
Between the three mattress types- innerspring, memory foam, and hybrid, there is a clear winner when it comes to sciatica. Memory foam mattresses provide a much-needed softness and cushioning that will help you sleep through the night and wake up with less pain.
That said, other mattress types still might perform better for your specific needs. Everyone’s body and preferences are different, so you should do your best to find the mattress that works for you- not the one with the best reviews or most recommendations!
Most mattresses come with an in-home trial period, during which you can return the mattress for a full refund, no questions asked. That being the case, you should take your time to test out as many mattresses as you like to find the one that works best for you. It might be a bit more tedious, but you owe it to yourself to do everything you can to get some relief!
FAQs: Mattresses and Sciatica
Can a Bad Mattress Cause Sciatica?
The good news: a bad mattress won’t cause sciatica on its own. The bad news: bad mattresses can cause flare-ups of existing sciatica and make your symptoms last a lot longer. If you have an old mattress that is sagging and losing its shape, chances are pretty high that your sciatica will be more intense and take longer to go away.
How Do I Know if My Mattress is Aggravating Sciatica?
Sciatica pain presents itself when the sciatic nerve is disturbed by things like bone spurs and slipped discs. If your mattress isn’t helping you sleep with your spine and hips well-aligned, it will likely trigger your sciatica.
If you typically feel sciatica pain in the morning that recedes throughout the day, your mattress is probably one of the triggers. If that describes you, it’s time to find a solution before your sciatica is aggravated even further!
Mattress Causing Sciatica- How to Fix It
The least expensive fix is a high-quality, supportive mattress topper. You can get a great mattress topper for sciatica for less than $100. It’s also a lot more convenient than throwing out a heavy mattress and getting a new heavy mattress! Sometimes, a nice mattress topper is all you need to get much-needed relief from sciatica flare-ups caused by your mattress.
If that doesn’t work, or your mattress is old and degraded, you need to upgrade and replace it. It won’t be cheap, but it will be worth it. If your mattress is problematic for your sciatica, it will be very hard to experience any relief until you get around to replacing it. So, don’t hesitate to get that new mattress if you know you need it! The only thing you’ll lose is time.
Final Thoughts: Mattresses for Sciatica
Though your mattress might not have been the origin of your sciatica, it does have a large impact on the intensity and duration of the pain you feel. What do you think of the mattresses on our list? Do you have any more questions about mattresses and how they can help or hurt your sciatica? Leave your comments for us below!