Resources and Advice

Helping you and your loved ones live well in later life

Falls Risk Score logo

Are you or a loved one at risk of a fall?

Every 10 seconds, a loved one in the UK has a fall. Find out your risk score in 2 minutes.


3 tips for sleeping well when you have Sciatica or lower back pain

Do you find your sciatica or lower back pain is keeping you up at night? Read our top tips for sleeping comfortably through the night.

April 13, 2021

Elderly man with sciatica back pain

Estimated reading time: 2.5 minutes

 A good night sleep is essential to staying healthy and feeling good. It is also a key component of effective sciatica treatment. However, when you’re in pain, finding a comfortable sleeping position that allows for a restful night sleep can be easier said than done.


What is Sciatica?

The sciatic nerve branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg. If this nerve is compressed, irritated or injured for any reason, you may experience pain. We refer to this pain as sciatica.

Sciatica isn’t the same as lower back pain. Lower back pain is limited to pain in an area of your back. But if you have sciatica, you might notice:

  • Sharp, burning or shooting pain that travels from the lower back to the foot.
  • Muscle weakness in one or both legs or feet.
  • Numbness in one or both legs.
  • A pins-and-needles sensation in the leg, foot or toes.

Where you feel the pain can depend on which area of the nerve is affected. It could be a constant pain or might only be noticeable when you sit or lie in certain positions.

In this article, we discuss three effective tips for sleeping well when you are suffering from sciatica or lower back pain.


A hot bath can ease sciatica

1. Take a hot bath before bed

Heat can help the muscles and back relax and ease any muscle spasm you may be experiencing. Adding a scoop of Epsom salts to the bath can also aid in reducing inflammation and promoting relaxation that many find offers relief from sciatic pain. In addition, a nice hot bath often leaves us feeling sleepy and can help us to drift off.

If you’re not able to take a bath, try a hot water bottle or a lavender heat pack instead. The heat from these will have the same beneficial effects as taking a bath, and lavender is known for its relaxing properties.


2. Elevate your knees

There is no one-size fits all sleeping position for those suffering from sciatica. However taking pressure off the small joints in the spine can help, as can reducing the stretch in the sciatic nerve. For these reasons lying on your back with your knees raised can provide relief from pain.

  • Lie flat on your back with your feet and buttocks in contact with the bed.

  • Bend your knees towards the ceiling.

  • Slide pillows under your knees until you find a position that’s comfortable.


3. Keep moving

When you’re in pain, it can seem tempting to rest more and to avoid moving the affected areas. However, with sciatica, pain will eventually increase with prolonged inactivity and decreased motion and so it is important to stay active as much as possible.

There’s no need to exert yourself or push yourself beyond your limits, but try incorporating some of these gentle activities into your day:

  • Go for regular walks. Even a short stroll to the shop or round the block can help to ease tension in the back and legs.

  • Practice simple stretches that you can do whilst sitting in a chair.

  • Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time. Get up and stretch your legs regularly or spend some time doing activities that require you to stand.


Ideas to help you exercise

When you reach the age of 60, the recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes, or two and a half hours, per week.

Read more


4. Staying motivated and active

Many people find using a fitness device to track their daily activity good motivation for staying active. A wearable device such as the Taking Care Personal Alarm Watch can count the number of steps you take - and provides a way to get help in an emergency. 

Out-and-About Personal Alarm Watch

The watch works as a personal alarm, GPS tracking device and pedometer so you can track how many steps you have taken.

Read more


When to see a doctor

If you’ve been dealing with pain from sciatica for more than a week, you should consider a visit to the doctor for a proper diagnosis. They can help you determine what could be causing your pain and recommend the best treatment options.

TENS machines for Sciatica pain relief

TENS machine for Sciatica pain

TENS machines are small electrical devices with pads that stick on to your skin. They are used to treat pain stemming from a variety of causes, such as period pains, arthritis and Sciatica pain.

TENS machine for Sciatica pain


Other resources

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure

Ways to support independent living

Independent living products brochure

Learn how personal alarms and home monitoring solutions can keep you or your loved ones safe and independent at home.

Download brochure

What to read next

Holidays in UK for elderly people
August 1, 2022

Tips when planning holidays for the elderly in the UK

If you're planning a holiday, here are some things to consider to ensure you have the best possible break away.

Elderly lady saving money
July 21, 2022

Money-saving tips for pensioners

The costs of living are increasing, making it more of a challenge to make ends meet. Read our money-saving tips for pensioners.

TENS machine for Sciatica nerve pain relief
July 12, 2022

The use of TENS in managing Sciatica

Up to 40% of the UK population will suffer from Sciatica at some point. Dr Katie Stephens offers advice.

Close up of Pulse Oximeter
July 11, 2022

What do my blood oxygen levels mean?

Use the free online blood oxygen calculator to understand what your pulse oximeter reading means.