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