February 23, 2024

$2,499 at Nolah

Nolah Evolution Comfort Plus

Best pillow top mattress for sciatica

$2,599 at Leesa

Leesa Legend mattress

Leesa Legend

Best soft mattress for sciatica

Save up to $700 + 2 free pillows

The sciatic nerve is one of the largest nerves in your body. It runs down your spinal cord, through your hips and down into both legs. Irritation of the sciatic nerve is the root cause of sciatica, which manifests as pain or numbness in the lower back, hips or legs. If you are facing this issue, it’s likely caused by some kind of irregularity with your spine.

An old mattress, or a mattress that doesn’t work for you, is not generally a reason a person develops sciatica — but it can happen. A mattress can exacerbate the pain and prevent you from getting good sleep, and without good sleep, it will be more difficult to treat your sciatica, as well as negatively affecting your life in general. 

Make sure you consult your doctor before making any big changes, as they might have more specific lifestyle recommendations for you to help with your sciatica.

Video: Best mattress for sciatica

Watch CNET sleep expert Owen Poole review the best mattresses for sciatica. 

What is the best overall mattress for sciatica?

After testing hundreds of beds, we chose the Casper Wave Hybrid as the best mattress for sciatica. This mattress has an advanced zoned support design that Casper calls “Zoned Support Max.” This design provides a bit more support for your lower back and hips and a bit more pressure relief for your shoulders, which should promote spinal alignment.

It also has several layers of foam above coils, which strikes a great balance between pressure relief and support that should hopefully alleviate sciatic nerve pain. Its accommodating medium firmness profile should be able to work for any sleeping position as well.

Best mattresses for sciatica of 2023

Mattress price scale:

$ = Budget: $799 and below

$$ = Average: $800 to $1,699

$$$ = Premium: $1,700 and up

These reflect MSRP or list prices. Sales might make a mattress less expensive, but are always changing.

My Slumber Yard

Type Neutral hybrid mattressFirmness MediumTrial 100 nightsWarranty 10-year warranty Price $$$

Why we picked the Casper Wave Hybrid mattress: This mattress is one of the most comfortable and accommodating beds we’ve ever tested, and it’s one of my personal favorites.

Pretty much everyone who tries it finds it comfortable thanks to its combination of multiple layers of “AirScape foam,” memory foam and pocketed coils, and its medium firmness profile works pretty well for any sleeping position, back, stomach, side and combination. 

The Casper Wave Hybrid is also endorsed by the ACA (American Chiropractic Association) because of how well it can alleviate back pain. The reason for this is largely due to the zoned support design in the construction of the Wave Hybrid.

This design provides a bit more support for your lower back and hips and a bit more pressure relief for your shoulders, which should promote spinal alignment. It even uses small gel pods in the memory foam layer to provide even more targeted support, which could help with the pain associated with sciatica.

If you’re looking for a softer mattress, there is also the Casper Nova Hybrid that has a similar zoned support design and a similar feel to the Wave Hybrid.

Pros

Cons

Additional details

  • Type: Soft foam hybrid
  • Firmness: 5 or medium
  • Trial: 100 nights 
  • Warranty: 10-year warranty 
  • Price scale: $$$

Casper Wave Hybrid

CNET/Jonathan Gomez

Type Hyper-Elastic Polymer HybridFirmness 7 or Medium firmTrial 100 nightsWarranty 10 years

Why we picked the Purple Restore mattress: All of the mattresses from Purple have a special top layer you can’t find with any other brand. It’s called the “GelFlex” grid, and it’s made of a material called hyper-elastic polymer that doesn’t resemble normal mattress foams. In fact, it looks more like a shoe insole.

This material provides a uniquely responsive and squishy sensation. It moves with you and conforms to your body’s shape nicely while providing lots of support, which should hopefully alleviate that sciatic nerve pain.

With that said, some sleepers may think the bed’s one-of-a-kind feel is somewhat strange, so make sure you make full use of the 100-night trial period provided by Purple.

The Purple Restore also comes in two different firmness options. The firm model is around a medium-firm, meaning it’s more ideal for back and stomach sleepers, and the soft model will be a more accommodating medium.

The Purple Restore is the base model in the Purple “Premium Collection,” and the Restore Plus and Restore Premier are quite similar with some key differences that you can check out here. 

Pros

  • Unique material not found anywhere else
  • Excellent temperature regulation
  • Supportive and pressure-relieving

Cons

  • High price
  • Unique feel isn’t universally comfortable

Additional details

  • Type: Gel hybrid
  • Firmness: Soft: 5 or medium | Firm: 7 or medium-firm
  • Trial: 100 nights 
  • Warranty: 10-year warranty 
  • Price scale: $$$

Purple Restore Mattress

CNET/Jonathan Gomez

Type Pillow-top hybridFirmness 7 or medium-firmTrial 120 nightsWarranty Lifetime

Why we picked the Nolah Evolution Comfort Plus mattress: This is a luxurious pillow-top mattress that is extra supportive because it’s designed for heavier body types, but you don’t necessarily need to be a heavy person to be interested in the Nolah Evolution Comfort Plus mattress.

The coils are configured in a zoned support design, which will be firmer under your hips and lower back, and the coils are also reinforced along the edges and will improve the overall edge support. 

I have a hard time imagining anyone finding the pillow top of the Nolah Evolution Comfort Plus uncomfortable, and its combination of plushness and support should maintain spinal alignment and remove pressure from your lower back.

This mattress does have a firm overall profile, and that is in large part because it’s designed to support heavier body types. In our testing, we found it to be a medium-firm for the average-sized person, but if you are heavier, it will likely be closer to a medium. 

There is also the Nolah Evolution Hybrid 15-Inch mattress, which has some slight construction differences and comes in three different firmness options.

Pros

  • Extra supportive for heavier people
  • Comfortable pillow top design
  • Zoned support coils

Cons

  • Somewhat expensive before discounts
  • Can be too firm for some side sleepers

Additional details

  • Type: Pillow-top hybrid
  • Firmness: 7 or medium-firm 
  • Trial: 120 nights 
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty 
  • Price scale: $$$

Nolah Evolution Comfort+

Type Memory foam mattressFirmness Medium to medium-firm or 6Trial 365 nightsWarranty Forever warranty Price $

Why we picked the Nectar mattress: The Nectar mattress features a thick layer of memory foam as its primary comfort layer that gives it a traditional, dense memory foam feel. It has a body-conforming quality that can relieve pressure on joints like your hips, shoulders and even your lower back.

It has a medium-firm profile that makes it ideal for back, stomach and combo sleepers, but I think a good number of side sleepers will be able to get by on it, and Nectar does have softer options available with the Nectar Premier and Premier Copper.

All Nectar mattresses also come in hybrid versions as well for added long-term durability and support. 

Plus, Nectar is an affordable mattress brand and a great memory foam option for someone who doesn’t have the budget for a Tempur-Pedic. 

Pros

  • Classic memory foam feel
  • Budget-friendly
  • Hybrid option

Cons

  • Can be too firm for some side sleepers

Additional details

  • Type: Memory foam
  • Firmness: 7 or medium-firm 
  • Trial: 365 nights 
  • Warranty: Lifetime warranty 
  • Price scale: $

Nectar Memory Foam

CNET/Jonathan Gomez

Why we picked the Plank Firm Natural mattress: This mattress has a flippable design, which means both sides of the bed are designed to be slept on. This is atypical for most modern mattresses.

Both sides of the Plank Firm Natural are pretty firm. However, the firm side is a medium-firm, and the extra firm side is closer to a true firm. So this bed is geared more toward back and stomach sleepers, but you do get two chances to get the firmness right.

The main comfort layers of the Plank Firm Natural are made of latex foam, which has a very specific feel. I like to describe it as almost the opposite of memory foam, because you don’t get that sink-in, body-conforming feel.

The coils plus the latex foam on the Plank Firm Natural, to me, gives the mattress a buoyant, responsive feel that many should find comfortable. It’s especially suitable for back sleepers.

Pros

  • Flippable design
  • Natural materials
  • Latex feel

Cons

  • Not appropriate for side sleepers
  • Not the best motion isolation

Additional details

  • Type: Latex foam hybrid
  • Firmness: 7 or medium-firm 
  • Trial: 120 nights 
  • Warranty: 10-year warranty 
  • Price scale: $$

Lindsay Boyers

Type Poly foam hybrid mattressFirmness 5 or mediumTrial 100 nightsWarranty 10-year limited warrantyPrice Scale $$$

Why we picked the Leesa Legend mattress: This bed has a medium to medium-soft firmness profile that is ideal for many side sleepers looking for a lot of pressure relief. 

The Leesa Legend also has a unique zoned support design that’s achieved by using a combination of foam and microcoils. In the center third of the mattress there’s a firmer layer of foam, and on the outer thirds there are microcoils, which give you more support under your trunk and hips to promote spinal alignment.

It has an accommodating, soft hybrid feel that I think most people will find comfortable. It should provide enough pressure relief to help alleviate pain from sciatica. Plus, I have found that beds like this, which have microcoils, are excellent at absorbing cross-mattress motion, making them great for couples.

Pros

  • Accommodating feel
  • Nice firmness profile for side sleepers
  • Excellent motion isolation for a coil mattress

Cons

Additional details

  • Type: Neutral hybrid
  • Firmness: 4 or medium to medium-soft
  • Trial: 100 nights 
  • Warranty: 10-year warranty 
  • Price scale: $$$

Leesa Legend

What to consider when buying a mattress for sciatica

Buying a mattress to help with sciatica can obviously be a challenge. Finding a bed that can help alleviate the pain, or at least not make the pain worse, will depend a lot on your specific sleeping preferences and body type. The overarching idea, though, is to try and find a bed that will put minimal pressure on your lower back while still being supportive.

Firmness level

This will depend on how you like to sleep and finding a mattress to match. Side sleepers will generally want a softer mattress to provide enough pressure relief for shoulders and hips. If you have sciatica and you put lots of pressure on your hips, the pain can be made worse. 

On the other hand, back and stomach sleepers generally want a firmer mattress to maintain spinal alignment and avoid the lower back and hips sinking below the legs which can also be bad for sciatica.

Firmness is always subjective based on a person’s body weight, so that is something to keep in mind when shopping for a mattress.

Zoned support

A mattress with a zoned support design can be beneficial for lots of types of back pain and for sciatica. In general, these designs provide more support underneath a person’s hips, which promotes spinal alignment. Maintaining proper spinal alignment can be a pathway to pain relief.

Trial period

For any mattress purchase meant to relieve pain like sciatica, taking full advantage of the in-home trial period provided by the brand is critical. If after the first 30 nights of the trial window, your pain levels haven’t improved, it might be worth considering returning it and trying something else.

In our experience, returning a mattress is a pretty process, so don’t be afraid to do it. The trial period is there for a reason!

How we tested the best mattresses for sciatica

Our team of experts has an extensive mattress testing process. You can read about it here. 

For this particular list, we looked at a variety of factors and paid special attention to any advanced features that provide targeted, zoned support.  

Firmness and feel

Probably the two most important things we test for are a mattress’ firmness rating and feel. The feel of a mattress depends on its construction, especially the top layers, although we don’t always agree with what the brand says their bed feels like. 

Feel doesn’t really affect pain relief, so we tried to select a wide variety of feel types to have something for everyone, like dense memory foam, pillow tops and latex.

Firmness is much more important for pain relief, and again, we tried to have plenty of variety for any sleep style. Side sleepers who have sciatica and sleep on beds too firm for them can exacerbate the pain to varying degrees.

I have personally tested over 200 beds, and our entire team of experts is confident in rating firmness.

Support

A mattress that doesn’t have enough support is a common culprit for all kinds of back pain and can make your sciatica worse. Zoned support designs are a nice feature to have to help with sciatica because they have targeted firmness zones that give you more support in the area where you need it most. 

Hybrid constructions are also a general recommendation for anything related to pain because they typically maintain the same level of support for a longer period of time in comparison to beds that use foam as the support layer. 

Other mattresses we’ve tested

We have to make the cutoff for these lists somewhere, but here are a few other beds we considered for this list that didn’t quite make the cut that I think are also solid options.

Layla/Layla Hybrid: Both versions of Layla have a flippable design, like the Plank Natural Firm. The soft side of both are a medium-soft, so they’ll be great options for side sleepers looking for a lot of pressure relief. The firm sides aren’t overly firm either, slightly firmer than a medium, so they will be fairly accommodating. 

The airy, responsive memory foam feel found on both is also pretty comfortable for most sleepers. 

The flippable design is also nice for anyone seeking pain relief.

Saatva Classic: The Saatva Classic is one of our favorite hybrid beds. It comes in three different firmness options. It has a traditional innerspring pillow top feel that most find familiar and comfortable. It also has some additional lumbar support. 

It’s a solid all-around option.

Winkbed GravityLux: This is an often-forgotten mattress because of the popularity of the flagship WinkBed, but it is an unique memory foam bed. It has a zoned support layer, which is a nice feature for pain relief, has three firmness options to choose from and it has a classic body-conforming memory foam feel.

The biggest negative for this mattress is its price. Most foam beds are much more affordable than the GravityLux.

Mattresses for sciatica FAQs

A mattress that provides a nice combination of support and pressure relief for your preferred sleeping position. A mattress with a zoned support construction can help accomplish this.

A new mattress is not likely to cure sciatica on its own, but it can help alleviate the pain associated with sciatica and help you get more restorative sleep, which is key to overall health. 

Returning a mattress is an easy process that’s usually free. Some brands like Saatva, Tempur-Pedic and Nolah will charge a small fee of $99 to return or exchange a mattress. You simply contact the company, and they will refund your money and arrange for someone in your area to pick up the mattress for you. Brands do ask people to sleep on the bed for at least 30 nights before initiating a return.