Great Tips To Help You Sleep With Piriformis Syndrome


Great Tips To Help You Sleep With Piriformis Syndrome

Have you been suffering with piriformis syndrome? Is pain in your back and lower extremities keeping you up at night? Consider this…

An inability to sleep is not uncommon with piriformis syndrome. Don’t worry, though. Here are a few tips to help you: pay attention to your spinal alignment, get proper treatment, modify your sleep position, select the best mattress, and select the best pillow for piriformis syndrome.

How To Sleep with Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis Syndrome is a form of sciatica caused by the piriformis muscle pressing on the sciatic nerve. One study in the Wiley Online Library found that 17.2% of back pain cases were the result of piriformis syndrome according to the metrics they used.

If you’ve been diagnosed with the condition there is a good chance it is creating difficulties for you when you try to sleep. But don’t worry. There are things you can do to help you sleep with piriformis syndrome.

A case study in Poland by Medycyna Ogólna found that manual therapy (a type of physical therapy) and potentially effective way to diagnose and treat piriformis syndrome. Additionally, a case study by Science Direct found that a 32-year-old male patient with piriformis syndrome responded positively to chiropractic care.

Things you can do to help you sleep with piriformis syndrome include:

Pay Attention To Your Spinal Alignment To Help You Sleep

One of the most common causes of chiropractic issues is a misaligned spine. The optimum natural spinal condition is an S-shaped curve, also referred to as the neutral position of the spine.

If certain sections of the spine’s curves are too straight or curved in the wrong direction, there is a good chance that musculoskeletal issues will arise. In fact, in the case of piriformis syndrome, a misaligned spine may pull and irritate the piriformis muscles and, even if it isn’t the primary cause of the issue, it can substantially aggravate the condition.

So, if you are having difficulties sleeping from the pain caused by piriformis syndrome, the first thing you should focus on is the proper alignment of your spine.

Treatment for Piriformis Syndrome

The next step to help you sleep with piriformis syndrome is, of course, to seek out treatment for the condition and make sure you follow through with the complete treatment plan. Don’t start a treatment program and go only halfway, because if you do that, you may find the piriformis syndrome recurring.

Like other medical conditions, it is usually best to rely on non-invasive conservative types of treatment before progressing to heavy-duty treatment options like surgery. In the case of piriformis syndrome, some of the best conservative treatments include chiropractic care and physical therapy.

Chiropractors have a number of tools such as chiropractic adjustments to help deal with back pain. And physical therapists can direct you through efficacious exercises to help ease your pain. Either one of these types of treatment can help your piriformis syndrome. Used together, they become even more powerful.

Eliminating or even just reducing the pain will go a long way in helping you sleep with piriformis syndrome.

Sleep Positions To Help You Sleep With Piriformis Syndrome 

Realizing that correct spinal alignment is crucial to many musculoskeletal conditions, including piriformis syndrome, you should take some time to consider your sleep position. If you lie down with lower back pain, be aware that that may indicate that the position of your body while you are sleeping is impacting your spinal alignment.

This in turn can increase pain, if the alignment is poor, or decrease pain, if the alignment is good. There are basically three different kinds of sleep positions. These are:

  • Back Sleepers

    This is an excellent sleeping position choice as it can often help maintain spinal alignment. It might be a little uncomfortable, at first, especially if you’ve never slept on your back before. However, if you make the effort to develop the habit, it can help.

    Note, though, that many people need to put a pillow under their knees while they sleep. This is to keep the hips from tilting and drawing the spine out of alignment. Similarly, some people will put a rolled up towel or small pillow under the small of their back to help maintain alignment there as well.

  • Side Sleepers

    This is another excellent sleeping position. It’s also one of the most common sleeping positions. However, the legs and knees present a problem here. As with back sleepers, they can disrupt your natural spinal alignment.

    For side sleepers, though, the trick is to sleep with a pillow between your knees. This will keep your legs from, once again, distorting your spinal alignment.

  • Front Sleepers

    This is the least desired sleep position. This is because front sleepers are forced to turn their heads to one side or the other. This throws the spine out of alignment around the neck. And that does not help.

Best Mattress Selections for Sleeping with Piriformis Syndrome

The type of mattress you use can also have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep when sleeping with piriformis syndrome. In light of that, you may want to consider investing in a new mattress, particularly if you have an old spring mattress that just might need it.

Most people benefit from a mattress of medium to medium-firm softness. Of course, this isn’t a one-size fits all situation. Everybody is different, whether it be in height, weight, or body type. Remember, the goal here is to find the best mattress for your back, that is, one that will help keep your spine aligned so you can sleep comfortably.

You’ll want to keep an eye on your shoulders and hips. If, while laying on the mattress, you can draw an imaginary straight line from your feet through your body to your head, you’re in good shape.

Best Pillow Selection for Sleeping with Piriformis Syndrome 

Pillows can also play a critical role in helping you sleep with piriformis syndrome. As mentioned before, you can use pillows under your knees or between your knees when sleeping on your back or side.

However, you should also be mindful of the traditional use of the pillow to simply support your head. Here, again, spinal alignment is critical. If you sleep on your back, you’ll likely need a thinner pillow. Such a pillow will help keep your neck properly aligned. If you sleep on your side, you’ll likely need a somewhat thicker pillow for precisely the same reason.

Why Is My Piriformis Syndrome Worse at Night?

If you find your piriformis syndrome worse at night before you go to bed, the most common cause is just the natural stress and activities of the day. Regardless, you’ll probably need sciatic pain relief at night. If you find your piriformis syndrome worse while you sleep, there are a number of possible contributing factors.

These include:

  • Spinal misalignment
  • Poor sleep position
  • Poor mattress selection
  • Poor pillow selection

We discuss each of these above.

Tips On How To Sleep with Piriformis Syndrome

If you’ve implemented all the above suggestions on how to sleep with piriformis syndrome, here are a few more miscellaneous tips for further assistance:

  1. Take stock of your sleeping position when you wake up. Note how your legs, arms, and head are arranged before you move at all.
  2. Ask someone you trust (spouse, etc…) to make a note of how you are positioned while sleeping should they get such an opportunity.
  3. Again, ask someone you trust to help you figure out the best position for you. Have that person stand to the side of the bed while you lie down and see if they can determine which positions adversely affect your spinal alignment.

Take note of whatever you’ve discovered and implement it as you see fit or, better yet, discuss it with a chiropractor and get his or her input.


So,  if you are having difficulty sleeping because of the pain caused by your piriformis syndrome, don’t fret. There are things you can do, both in the long term and short term. If you need advice, contact your nearest chiropractor’s office. If you are in Anchorage or Juneau, contact us at Better Health Alaska. You won’t be disappointed.


The portrait of Dr. Brent Wells.

Dr. Brent Wells

About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells is an actively practicing chiropractic physician that has personally led over 10,000 Alaskans to more active, pain-free lifestyles since 1998. He is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Anchorage and Juneau where he brings a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care. Dr. Wells continues to further his education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, occupational ergonomics, whiplash, and brain injury traumatology. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians.

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