I've been suffering from the discomfort of sciatica, shooting pains down the leg. Mine shows up at night, when I'm trying to sleep. I've had it before but only briefly and it would disappear. It now seems to have moved in with me, so I found a physical therapist who's knowledgeable about this and went to see her. She asked me two questions right away. One surprised me and the other I didn't want to hear.
The first question was "how old is your bed." I couldn't give her an exact answer but my guess is pretty old. I bought a new mattress and springs in the first few years after I moved to Portland. Probably 1999 or so. She frowned, then went on to explain that the older we get, the more support our joints and spine need while we sleep. Get a new bed was her first prescription.
The second question was "tell me about your stretching program." I paused and then said, well, I yawn repeatedly morning and evening. I was joking but that's pretty much the extent of my stretching program. You can't be healthy and old without stretching, she said. I told her how inflexible I was, how painful most stretching regimens were for me. No mercy. All the more reason, she said. Your body needs it.
So now I have stretches to do every day. They haven't cured my sciatica yet (I want instant relief) but I am committed to my health and well-being and so I'm doing them. She's also teaching me how to get up and down off the floor, another essential. I'm not liking any of it but I'm committed.