Benefits Of Sleeping Upright For Those With Gerd
GERD is a disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter commonly known as LES. In a normal occurrence, the LES muscles between the esophagus and the stomach are taut. They open when swallowing something and close after that. This keeps the food contents from coming back to the mouth or throat.
However, when a person has GERD, the LES muscles open and close irregularly causing food to come up to the mouth causing acid reflux or heartburn. It can be aggravated by obesity, pregnancy or eating huge amounts of food or spiced food.
To some, it is an occurrence that they have to live with as this happens regularly. According to a recent report by the The Washington Post a staggering 15 million Americans are in need of raising the head of their bed due to suffering from heartburn daily.
One of the real challenges of GERD is sleeplessness as this condition is worse at night. For most patients, they end up tossing up and down on the bed but still end up not sleeping well.
Sleeplessness has serious health effects and can even make your condition worse. To ease the discomfort of this digestive disorder, you should consider sleeping upright.
How Does GERD Contribute to Sleeplessness?
Why and How to Sleep Upright when you have GERD?
Side Effects or Risks?
Extra Tips to Enjoying Sleep while suffering from GERD
We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to sleep upright and maintain about 35 to 40 degrees as you sleep.
How To Prevent Sleep Heartburn
There are a few simple ways to prevent sleep-related heartburn. This will not always be effective to avoid sleep heartburn altogether but it can be helpful. In some cases, medication like antacids or acid-suppressing drugs like proton pump inhibitors are necessary to minimize acid reflux and heartburn while asleep.
- Avoid eating before bedtime. A gap of at least 3 hours between the last meal and bedtime is ideal. Opt for water rather than tea or coffee before going to bed. Waking up to snack should be avoided at all costs.
- Use a specially-designed wedge to slightly elevate the upper torso. Using an extra pillow can help but may strain the neck. Sometimes elevating the head of the bed may also be beneficial if a wedge cannot be sourced.
- Do not consume alcohol prior to bedtime due to its effects of weakening the lower esophageal sphincter . However, even non-alcoholic drinks like cocoa or hot chocolate may also contribute to sleep heartburn and should be avoided if it poses a problem.
- Do not eat spicy foods or any other trigger foods for dinner. Even if dinner is many hours before bedtime, problem foods can trigger or aggravate acid reflux for long hours and extend into sleeping time.
- Alkaline drinks like milk can help but the effect is very short-lived. Antacids that neutralize the stomach acid may have a longer lasting effect and should be taken before bedtime.
Which Side Should I Sleep On
The left and right sides dont have equal benefits and most people are better off sleeping on their right side. It places less pressure on your heart than lying on the left does.
As we previously mentioned,ScienceDirect researchVerified SourceScienceDirectOne of the largest hubs for research studies and has published over 12 million different trusted resources.View sourcefound that patients with congestive heart failure avoided sleeping on their left side. It also linked sleeping on your left side with higher sympathetic nerve activity. The sympathetic nervous system governs your fight-or-flight response, so less activity keeps you calm.
However, the best side for pregnant women to sleep on is the left side. By lying on her left side, a woman increases blood flow to the fetus, providing the baby with more nutrients.
Disclosure: I am compensated for purchases made through some links on this site. .
If youre like the millions of people suffering from heartburn at night, you probably dread laying down each night fearing what your night will bring. Nighttime heartburn can also be accompanied by other painful symptoms, such as coughing, choking, regurgitation, sore throat and even chronic sinus issues.
Also Check: Align Probiotic Extra Strength
Try Skipping Your Nightcap
Researchers are still trying to determine the connection between GERD and alcohol, however, multiple studies have shown that alcohol, especially heavy drinking, can make symptoms worse. Alcohol has been shown to reduce lower esophageal sphincter pressure, which can increase the likelihood of reflux.
Since alcohol causes your esophageal sphincter to relax, avoid drinking a few hours before lying down to prevent nighttime acid reflux. Drinking in moderation , can also help manage symptoms.
Other Ways To Manage Acid Reflux At Night
In addition to adjusting your sleeping posture, there are several other steps you can take to mitigate your acid reflux at night and throughout the day.
Here are some additional strategies for managing your acid reflux and heartburn symptoms:
- Home remedies for heartburn relief: Drinking milk, chewing gum, and using herbal remedies can provide short-term reflux relief when symptoms arise.
- Acid reflux medications: Antacids, PPIs, and H-2 blockers can offer short- and long-term relief from symptoms. .
- Avoid trigger foods: Spicy, fatty, and acidic foods can trigger heartburn and should be avoided, especially right before lying down. Try to give yourself at least three hours to fully digest your dinner before bedtime.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Added pressure on the abdomen can cause acid reflux to flare up.
You May Like: Probiotics Make You Poop
Take An Antacid When Heartburn Hits
Antacids will work very quickly on heartburn you may be experiencing before you go to bed. It can also be used for those heartburn episodes that wake you up during the night if the heartburn comes back. Unfortunately, this is very possible. An H2 blocker taken at bedtime takes 30 to 90 minutes to work and the benefits typically last several hours. Symptoms may improve for up to 24 hours after taking the drug. Another option is to combine the two. The antacid will provide the quick relief you need, and will likely last until the H2 blocker begins to work.
If you continue to experience frequent heartburn symptoms at night, even after trying to narrow down the cause, see your healthcare provider. He or she will be able to diagnose whether you are suffering from just occasional heartburn, or something more serious, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, an ulcer, or a hiatal hernia. You will be able to discuss with your healthcare provider different treatment options, including medications such as proton pump inhibitors.
I What Is Acid Reflux And Gerd
Acid reflux, GERD and heartburn are often used interchangeably, but its important to understand the differences.
Acid reflux refers to when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus, lungs, throat or sinusesplaces where it definitely doesnt belong. Acid reflux can cause many different symptoms, one of which is heartburn, a burning sensation in the upper abdomen or chest. An estimated 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once per month. Other symptoms include a sour or bitter taste in the mouth or back of the throat, sore throat, cough, chest pressure and difficulty swallowing.
You might be diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease when acid reflux becomes more frequent, such as more than two times per week. GERD is a chronic condition that affects 15-30% of the US population.
You May Like: Align Probiotics Dosage
Change Your Sleep Position
I mentioned above how nighttime GERD symptoms can be exacerbated by how we sleep. However, you can reduce or even potentially eliminate those symptoms by changing your sleep position.
Laying flat while you sleep can worsen your symptoms. Laying flat on your back makes it easier for reflux to occur, which can even cause you to wake up coughing or choking on your reflux.
Instead, I recommend sleeping on your left side. This position is most beneficial to alleviating GERD symptoms because gravity will position your stomach below your esophagus, making it harder for reflux to rise into your throat. Even if reflux occurs, gravity can return the reflux to your stomach faster than if you were sleeping on your back or right side.
Similarly, its also the most beneficial sleeping position for pregnant women, whether or not they are experiencing nocturnal symptoms of acid reflux.
Sleeping on your right side does not offer the same benefits though. Sleeping on your right side often produces liquid reflux, while sleeping on your left side may produce more gas if youre still experiencing symptoms. While potentially annoying, however, the latter is much easier to tolerate than the former. So remember this if youre planning on adjusting your sleep position: Right is wrong.
Tip 1 For Nighttime Heartburn Relief: Elevate Head And Chest
For people who sleep on their back, heartburn symptoms may occur if stomach acid leaks from the stomach back into the esophagus as they lay down. In these cases, one can try to reduce their symptoms by using gravity and elevating the head and chest higher than the lower abdomen.
Using specifically designed wedge pillows is one way to keep the upper body more upright during the night. Alternatively, you can try raising the upper half of the bed slightly by safely placing cinder blocks, bricks, or wood beams under the head of the bed.
Recommended Reading: When To Take Align Probiotics
Sleeping With Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, also referred to as heartburn, is no stranger to most of us and is something many people live with daily. Four out of five people who suffer with regular heartburn are also affected during the night time.
As we wind down and prepare our bodies for sleep, there are many factors contributing to the quality of sleep we’ll receive. However, sleeping with acid reflux can cause pain, discomfort and ultimately fatigue.
We all know the importance of getting some decent shut eye, so Rennie are laying down some facts and tips to ensure you get quality sleep, even with acid reflux.
Right Side: Its Not Right For Acid Reflux
Position #2 to avoid at night is sleeping on your right side.
When lying on your right side, your stomach is actually above your esophagus, creating a leaky faucet spouting stomach acid into the delicate lining of your esophagus. This is especially true when your stomach is full.
Interestingly, when lying flat on your right side, your reflux symptoms tend to be more liquid, leading to regurgitation, coughing, and choking, which can be very devastating in the middle of the night. Since gravity is doing nothing for you in this position, the amount of time acid lingers in your esophagus is much longer.
A study showed that people who sleep on their right side get an earlier diagnosis of GERD when they have it than those who sleep on their left, which is telling on how severe nocturnal GERD symptoms are when a person sleeps on their right side.
Don’t Miss: Does Banana Cause Bloating
Can I Die From Acid Reflux In My Sleep
Acid Reflux every now and then is not a cause for concern, however, if it is becoming more frequent , it is a sign of GERD and you should check in with your doctor. According to the American Cancer Society, patients with GERD have a slightly increased risk of permanent damage to the esophagus and can also lead to a condition called Barretts esophagus which can increase your risk for developing esophageal cancer. In short, you are not going to die from acid reflux in your sleep. However, if acid reflux occurs frequently and is left untreated, it can lead to higher likelihood of developing serious or life threatening complications such as esophagitis, ulcers, aspiration pneumonia, and Barretts esophagus.
Thankfully, you can act now. There are many ways to treat and prevent acid reflux, such as you can try to pinpoint your reflux triggers and avoid them as much as possible. You can also try to avoid eating meals late at night . If symptoms continue to persist, you may turn to over-the-counter medications that neutralize stomach acid , decrease stomach acid production , or heal the esophagus .
Because many people find GERD to be worse around bedtime, focusing on how to sleep with GERD may help reduce symptoms and improve sleep. Continue reading to learn more!
Dos & Donts: The Best Way To Sleep With Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux or GERD, is estimated to affect 20% of adults in the United States. Acid Reflux is more than just uncomfortable. In fact, it isnt unusual for sufferers to experience the inability to fall asleep, horrible burning sensations, choking in their sleep from acid reflux, and other truly terrible symptoms. You need long, deep sleep in order to be healthy and happy. If your Acid Reflux is stopping you from achieving this, now is the time to finally put an end to it. Make today the day you take your life back and banish sleepless nights!
It happens when stomach acid moves up from the stomach and into the esophagus. Normally, muscles at the bottom of the esophagus act as a barrier to prevent this from happening. However, sometimes the muscles are weak or relaxed and dont close all the way. This is when the problem occurs. Nearly all of us experience reflux from time to time it is mild, infrequent, and goes away quickly on its own. For some people, unfortunately, Acid Reflux happens at least once per week and often involves severe and bothersome symptoms that affect their daily life.
Recommended Reading: Align Probiotic Supplement Review
How Do You Calm Stomach Acid
9 ways to relieve acid reflux without medicationEat sparingly and slowly. When the stomach is very full, there can be more reflux into the esophagus. Avoid certain foods. Dont drink carbonated beverages. Stay up after eating. Dont move too fast. Sleep on an incline. Lose weight if its advised. If you smoke, quit.More items
Back Sleeping: Avoid Whenever Possible
Sleeping on the back increases how often acid reflux happens at night.
When you sleep flat on your back and acid escapes from your stomach, it can flow freely into your esophagus and remain there.
Studies show that symptoms are often more frequent in this position and tend to last longer because the acid cannot flow back to the stomach.
Your symptoms may also be more severe if you have stomach fatwhich pushes down on your stomach forcing contents to escape. Back sleeping should be the #1 position to avoid at night if you suffer from nighttime acid reflux.
Read Also: Align Prebiotic And Probiotic Reviews
Pros And Cons Of The Medcline Acid Reflux Pillow System
I highly recommend the MedCline Acid Reflux Pillow System for anyone with nighttime acid reflux. From my personal experience, I found it to be a great natural remedy for nighttime reflux symptoms like heartburn, regurgitation, coughing, sore throat, nausea and all those other horrible symptoms that go along with acid reflux and GERD.
The Acid Reflux Pillow System is the best of the MedCline products for those suffering from nighttime acid reflux symptoms. The system comes with the MedCline Therapeutic Body Pillow which I prefer over the Advanced Positioning Wedge pillow alone.
PROS of the MedCline Acid Reflux Pillow System:
- It works! The MedCline Acid Reflux Pillow System puts you on an incline and locks you in on your left side to stop nighttime reflux.
- Proven clinical studies that the MedCline wedge pillow system works.
- Its comfortable once you get used to sleeping in the new position.
- It also helps with snoring, sleep apnea, and shoulder pain. Unfortunately, I suffer from all of these.
- The MedCline Therapeutic Body Pillow that comes with the Acid Reflux Pillow System helped with my lower back pain.
- They give you 100 nights to try it out. If you arent happy they will refund your purchase price minus a 10% disposal fee.
- Machine washable covers. They even have extra covers for sale.
CONS of the MedCline Acid Reflux Pillow System:
Try Sleeping On Your Left Side
Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when the upper portion of the digestive tract is not functioning properly, causing stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus. The esophagus is a muscular tube linking the mouth to the stomach. In normal digestion, a specialized ring of muscle at the bottom of the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter opens to allow food to pass into the stomach and then quickly closes to prevent backflow into the esophagus. The LES can malfunction, allowing contents from the stomach, including food and digestive juices, such as hydrochloric acid, to push up into the esophagus. In GERD, this backflow is ongoing.
When you are standing, or sitting upright, gravity helps prevent stomach contents from rising up into the esophagus. However, reflux can become much worse while you are sleeping or lying in bed without the aid of gravity, it is much easier for stomach contents to spill through the malfunctioning LES and flow into the esophagus. This leads to an increase in symptoms, such as a burning in the chest, the feeling of food or liquid rising into the mouth, a sour or bitter taste, a sore throat, and coughing, which can make getting a good nights sleep a difficult task.
First published in the Inside Tract® newsletter issue 201 2017
Email News Sign Up
You May Like: Intestine Flare Up
What Is The Best Position For Sleeping With Acid Reflux
The best sleeping position for acid reflux is on your left side and at an incline. This posture has been proven to offer natural reflux relief and can make refluxing nearly impossible, thanks to the positioning of the lower esophageal sphincter 6-7. When the LES is positioned above the level of stomach contents, gravity is able to quickly return the contents, like partially-digested foods and acid, back to your stomach. As a result, youre less likely to experience acid reflux at night.
Physicians suggest that this elevated left-side position can decrease your nighttime heartburn symptoms and ultimately provide protection from prolonged acid exposure to your esophagus, throat, lungs, and sinuses.