If you often experience acid reflux or gastroesophageal, you have probably learned the hard way that symptoms can get worse when you try to sleep.
Lying flat does not allow gravity to help move food and acids through the esophagus and your digestive system, so the acid is allowed to accumulate in place.
Fortunately, there are strategies that you can use to reduce the frequency and intensity of acid reflux, as well as minimize the complications that accompany the condition at night.
These steps are especially important to help prevent damage to the mucosa of the esophagus that can occur if acid reflux is poorly handled, as well as help you to sleep better.
best sleeping position for gerd and acid reflux
Sleeping on the right side can cause symptoms of heartburn. Sleeping on your left, however, can relieve discomfort, perhaps because it helps to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which is located between the stomach and esophagus. Sleeping with an upper-body can also help to relieve acid reflux, so lift your head off your bed or use a foam corner to keep your body slightly straight from the waist while you sleep.
If heartburn at night becomes a regular problem, it is better to consult a doctor for a diagnosis and discuss long-term treatment options. Some home remedies can relieve symptoms in the meantime. These include:
Use a sleep wedge
Sleeping on a specially designed wedge-shaped pillow can be effective in managing GERD-related sleep problems. The wedge pillow keeps you partially straight, creating greater resistance to acid flow. It can also limit sleep positions that can exert pressure on the abdomen and aggravate the symptoms of heartburn and reflux.
If you cannot find a sleeping corner in an ordinary bedding store, check maternity stores.
These tents usually wear compensated pillows because GERD is common during pregnancy. You can also consult medical supply stores, pharmacies and specialized sleeping shops.
1 Bed Wedge Pillow AllSett Health
This multi-function foldable memory foam pillow can be used to support your head, back or even legs and is comfortable to sit and sleep.
2 Relax Home Life 7.5 Inch Bed Wedge Pillow
This soft wedge pillow not only helps relieve acid reflux but keeps you cool while you sleep. Comes with a removable and washable breathable bamboo cover
3 LUXELIFT Support Therapy Bed Wedge Pillow
This wedge pillow comes with a 2″ gel panel to help keep you cool and dry, which can be key to hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy and menopause. It easily adjusts from 30 to 8 inches in total height to provide a personalized lift during episodes of acid reflux, as well as help with sports injuries or pregnancy pain.
Avoid foods that trigger your heartburn
Foods that cause heartburn differ from person to person. Common foods and beverages that can cause heartburn and interrupt sleep include alcohol, caffeinated beverages, such as colas, coffee and tea, chocolate and cocoa, mint, garlic, onion, milk, fatty, spicy, or fried foods, and acidic foods, such as citrus or tomato products. Keep a food diary to help you track what foods can trigger heartburn.
Chewing gum promotes the production of saliva, which can soothe the esophagus and wash the acid in the stomach.
Excess weight puts more pressure on the abdomen and can increase the risk of heartburn. Losing weight, if necessary, can help relieve symptoms. Pregnant women should usually not try to lose weight, however, so they should talk to a doctor about other options.
Wear loose pajamas
Too tight clothes can put pressure on the stomach, leading to the outflow of acid into the esophagus. Although you probably wouldn’t wear Spanx leggings in bed as this wouldn’t be comfortable anyway, it’s still worth noting that if you have acid reflux, loose pajamas are the best choice.
Elevate your head in bed
Keeping your head upright is ideal if you feel acid reflux at night. Stackable pillows is not the best way to do this, however, because pillows are likely to change. An adjustable bed spring could be a better choice for you if you have acid reflux. Adjustable bases make it easy to access a sleeping position that will help alleviate symptoms.
Don’t Lay Down Until 3-4 Hours After Meals
Do not sleep after eating or lying for at least three to four hours. This is another way to prevent nocturnal reflux. As tempting as it may be, avoid the need to eat late in the evening before bedtime. It is recommended to continue moving about 30 minutes after each meal. Walk the dog or walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Wash dishes or clean the house for ½ hour. Sit down and watch TV later, but do not lie on the couch. You need to give your body enough time to properly digest your food before deciding to hit the hay.
What Are H2 Blockers?
H2 blockers are another treatment option to relieve heartburn. They are available by prescription and over-the-counter. As the name implies, they block gastric acid production. H2 blockers should be taken 30 minutes before meals to be more effective. Some doctors may recommend taking H2 inhibitors and antacids to control symptoms. Another advantage of H2 blockers is that they help heal the esophagus, reversing the damage caused by gastric acid. Examples of H2 inhibitors include ranitidine (Zantac), cimetidine (Tagamet), nizatidine (Axid), and famotidine (Pepcid).
Be Smart About Exercise
Good physical activity is required to maintain your overall health, but the types of activities you perform can affect the symptoms of acid reflux. Exercises that increase abdominal pressure can force the contents of the stomach to enter the esophagus.
Yoga postures that reverse the body, such as downward dog and headstands, can cause symptoms. Abdominal exercises, such as crunches, also increase intra-abdominal pressure, and reflux may occur. Exercise is great. Just be sure to choose the exercise that keeps the contents of your stomach where it belongs.
Among the many health benefits that come with stress reduction, less heartburn can inspire you to try yoga, meditation or find other healthy ways to improve your mood and treat stress.
What Causes GERD?
The immediate cause of GERD is the inability of the muscles of the lower esophagus to block gastric acid reflux, but other underlying elements have been found to make this condition more likely.
These risk factors contribute to the chances of developing GERD. However, not everyone with these risk factors will develop GERD and not all those with GERD have these risk factors.
Obesity: GERD occurs at a higher rate in overweight or obese people, although the exact explanation of why this occurs is uncertain.
Smoking Cigarettes: It was found that smoking affects the pressure near the lower esophageal sphincter and can slow down the clearance of gastric acid.
Drinking Alcohol: Alcohol affects the emptying processes of the esophagus and stomach in such a way as to facilitate acidic indigestion
Using Certain Medications: A number of drugs, including many antiasthma, blood pressure, antidepressants and sedatives, can increase the risk of reflux.
Hiatal Hernia: In this condition, the stomach moves upwards in the body, above the diaphragm and in a position that makes reflux more common.
Dietary Choices: Some foods and beverages often induce heartburn or reflux. Examples include chocolate, tomatoes, spicy foods, vinegar, citrus fruits, fatty foods, soft drinks, coffee and mint.
Pregnancy: Pregnant women often experience GERD, but their symptoms usually stop shortly after delivery.
GERD and sleep apnea
Research shows that there is a relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and GERD. According to one report, about 60% of OSA patients also have GERD. Sometimes, obesity plays a third role in this relationship.
When OSA occurs, changes in pressure inside the diaphragm and chest cavity create favorable conditions for acid reflux. It is also believed that an apnea episode could alter digestive processes in a way that changes the function of LES. Apnea also causes more “respiratory exertion” during sleep. This could force a change in pressure in the esophagus that leads to an increased probability of reflux. It is beneficial to know that treatment of OSA using Positive Airway Pressure Therapy (CPAP) has consistently shown that GERD symptoms improve.
Although you should not eat before bedtime, light snacks rich in protein are good options that will not worsen acid reflux. They are also easy to digest and can even induce sleep. These foods include yogurt, cottage cheese and raw vegetables with hummus.
Acid reflux is stronger at night because it is easier for gastric acid to spread into the esophagus while lying on a flat surface. In addition, we tend to eat our biggest food at night, which can worsen the symptoms of acid reflux, as it may take longer to digest more food. Vertical sleep reduces acid reflux because gravity is able to maintain acid in the stomach.
The healthiest position for sleeping is to sleep on the side. This position reduces acid reflux, but it can also improve heart health and open the respiratory tract. Sleeping on the stomach can aggravate acid reflux by placing the stomach and esophagus side by side, putting more pressure on your stomach.
Yes, it is common for people with GERD to experience shortness of breath, wheezing and chronic cough. Many people with GERD often develop asthma and sleep apnea. Raising your head at night can help reduce acid reflux and open your airways to facilitate breathing.
Symptoms of GERD can significantly affect the quality of your sleep, but you can take steps to reduce these symptoms. Long-term lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, are options to consider if you have trouble sleeping due to GERD. Although lifestyle changes can often improve the quality of your sleep, some people with GERD also need medical treatment. Your doctor can help you create a comprehensive approach that suits you best.