Get The Best Sleep Of Your Life
Tired of not getting enough sleep? Living with GERD doesnt have to be a nightmare. At Gastro Center NJ, we do everything we can to help make GERD a manageable part of your life.
Whether its sleeping on a foam memory pillow or prescribing a specific diet, were here to give you solutions that will improve your nighttime reflux, facilitating better sleep.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about nighttime reflux and how the gastroenterologists of Gastro Center NJ can get you the best sleep of your life.
59 Main Street, Suite 1 West Orange, NJ 07052
Some People Only Experience Acid Reflux Symptoms At Night When They Lie Down It Has A Lot To With Gravity
Of course one should always avoid eating too close to bed time. You want to have the last meal of the day at least 4-5 hours before you go to bed.
But that doesnt always help. You may still experience heartburn and regurgitation as you lie down on your back or stomach.
Symptoms are usually less frequent or severe if you sleep on your left side. Sleeping on the right side or on your back is not recommended. And stomach acid will flow back into your esophagus when you are in a horizontal position.
So avoid sleeping on your right side, on your stomach or on your back and either sleep on your left side or better yet, at an incline with your head elevated using extra pillows under your head and upper back.
I would also suggest reducing the frequency of your acid reflux during nighttime by avoiding alcohol and caffeinated drinks completely, by not eating a big dinner and by losing at least some of the excess weight.
The pressure of a large belly has an effect on the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus, causing it to relax and allow acidic stomach to go up back into the esophagus and the mouth area.
Need guidance on how to control and manage your acid reflux? Check out my Heartburn No More program
Waking Up With Heartburn In The Middle Of The Night
Falling asleep soundly can be a feat for reflux patients. Nighttime heartburn is a common occurrence for reflux patients, so much so that 75% of reflux patients report experiencing heartburn at night at least once a week.
Patients often report waking up choking, coughing, or feeling a strong acid sensation at the back of their throat. This is also accompanied by a sharp chest pain that could easily be mistaken for a heart attack.
Although doctors have yet to understand what separates daytime and nighttime heartburn, a study revealed the possible indicators of nighttime heartburn, which include:
Patients with nighttime heartburn tend to be treated differently than those who only experience symptoms in the daytime. This is because nighttime reflux sufferers often have more complex and aggressive symptoms compared to daytime patients.
At night, patients with heartburn symptoms arent just experiencing empty symptoms theyre also experiencing acid reflux. Nighttime reflux tends to have a longer clearance time, which means the acid stays longer in the esophagus before receding again. Because of this, doctors suggest more intensive therapy methods in order to protect the esophagus from prolonged acid contact.
Chronic esophageal exposure to acid may eventually lead to esophagitis and respiratory complications. Part of the GERD diagnosis involves distinguishing between nighttime and daytime symptoms in order to provide the right treatment plan.
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Cons Of Sleeping On The Back
One major issue with back sleeping is acid reflux, as this position allows acid to travel back up the throat.
Sleeping on the back can make snoring or sinus conditions worse. This happens because the back of the tongue collapses into the airway, obstructing breathing. People who snore should try sleeping on their side.
A person could help alleviate these symptoms by adding pillows to elevate their head. This can also help with headaches.
Avoid Big Meals Before Sleep
Like all functional areas of the body, the digestive system needs plenty of time to rest and recover from daily life. It is not a good idea to eat a big meal before bedtime, as it forces the digestive system to keep working. A light snack, such as an apple or some avocado toast, is a better idea.
Complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, or a small dose of protein can deal with hunger pangs.
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The Best Sleep Positions For Heartburn
You may not initially think that sleep positions can relieve heartburn, but guess what, they can.
Start by avoiding sleeping on your back whenever possible. When acid escapes your stomach as you sleep on your back, it can flow freely into your esophagus. Symptoms last longer and occur more frequently in this position because the acid cant go anywhere.
Stomach fat can worsen your symptoms by pushing down on your stomach and thus releasing its contents. Whatever you do, dont sleep on your back.
Also, dont sleep flat on your right side. Doing so makes your body work against gravity to bring acid contents back to your stomach. As a result, youll feel a leaky faucet sensation as stomach acid is released into your esophagus delicate lining.
Now its time to see which positions to sleep in.
Your left side is ideal to sleep on for heartburn relief. In this position, youll keep your lower esophageal sphincter above your gastric contents level. That discourages refluxing.
If reflux escapes, itll return faster to your stomach than if you were on your right side because of gravity. Reflux on your left side is more gaseous, which minimizes damage from acid exposure.
Why Do I Have Acid Reflux At Night
Acid reflux is strongest at night because lying on a flat surface makes it easier for stomach acid to spill into the esophagus. Also, we tend to eat our biggest meal in the evening, which may aggravate acid reflux symptoms since it may take longer to digest more food. Sleeping in an upright position reduces acid reflux because gravity is able to keep acid in the stomach.
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Benefits Of Sleeping On Your Side
Left or right, sleeping on your side is better for your body. First, it can help you avoid issues with heartburn or acid reflux. It can improve your digestion, since studies show that side sleeping helps food move seamlessly from your small to large intestine. And from there to your colon. Now, if you sleep on your left side, you get an added boost. This position keeps your stomach and pancreases in an ideal for producing the enzymes that encourage your best digestion.
Guess what else? Side sleeping can improve your night time breathing patterns. Which means you can say goodbye to snoring And, if you suffer from chronic back pain, side sleeping can help. Its a good way to relieve pressure on your spine. Which can translate to reduced aches and pains the next morning.
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Tips To Improve Your Posture And Gerd
It seems that only models have perfect posture, but we can all find ways to improve. If you get heartburn frequently, you have even more of an incentive to work on your posture.
- Try to be conscious of your posture. If you do this regularly, you will correct your position when you notice yourself slouching.
- Strive to keep your shoulders down and back with your head aligned over your shoulders and directly over your spine, not in front.
- Ask Digestive Health Services for a recommendation to a physiotherapist who can develop exercises and stretches just for you.
- Here is a deep breathing exercise you can do several times daily. Lie flat on your back with knees slightly bent. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe very deeply from your diaphragm. You should see the hand on your stomach move as you inhale, but the hand on your chest should be still. Exhale deeply.
See Digestive Health Services for additional posture tips or treatment for the symptoms of GERD.
As always, if you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call today!
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Figure : Anatomy Of Infant Larynx In The Prone And Supine Position
When prone the esophagus is above the laryngeal opening, thus high reflux or postnasal secretions have direct access to stimulation of receptors around the laryngeal opening leading to laryngeal chemoreceptor reflex apnoea . When supine the food pipe is below the laryngeal opening and the piriform fossae provide a temporary reservoir with protection from LCR stimulation. Thus both the anatomy and physiology predispose the infant to activation of the LCR when prone 6, 9, 21.
In Australia, between 1990 and 2015 there were 5,000 babies who died suddenly and unexpectedly. Baby deaths attributed to SUDI have fallen by 85% and it is estimated that 9,967 infant lives have been saved as a result of the infant safe sleeping campaigns.
The Safe Sleeping program is based on strong scientific evidence, has been developed in consultation with major health authorities, SUDI researchers and paediatric experts in Australia and overseas, and meets the National Health & Medical Research Council rules for strong evidence.
For further information visit the Red Nose website at rednose.org.au or phone Red Nose on 1300 998 698.
Red Nose National Scientific Advisory Group . 2017. Information Statement: Reflux: sleeping position for babies with gastro-oesophageal reflux . Melbourne, Red Nose. This information statement was first posted in 2013. Most recently updated December 2017.
View the references for this article here.
Other Studies Have Found Physical Effects On The Heart While Sleeping On Your Left Side
A separate study conducted in 2018 also used ECG to monitor the heart data from 9 subjects. Similar to the 1997 study, results also found that participants sleeping on their left sides had significant changes in their hearts electrical activity. But in this study, an imaging technique known as vectorcardiography also showed that the heart turned and shifted while in that position, which researchers said may explain the recorded changes.
In comparison, almost no ECG changes were recorded while participants slept on their right side, Healthline reports. Imaging showed a thin layer of tissue between the lungs known as the mediastinum actually held the heart securely in place while sleeping that way.ae0fcc31ae342fd3a1346ebb1f342fcb
However, both studies quickly concluded that more research would be needed on how sleep position could affect the hearts activity overall. And while some patients who have been diagnosed with congestive heart failure have reported trouble breathing or discomfort while sleeping on their left side, there is no conclusive evidence that sleeping on your left side could be putting you at an increased risk of heart disease if you dont already have a condition.
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Does Lying On Stomach Help Reflux
Finding a peaceful position to sleep in can be a tough one for acid reflux sufferers. Because lying down prevents gravity from doing its job keeping the food contents back down, patients feel anxious about falling asleep. Sleep deprivation becomes a problem among acid reflux sufferers in fear of choking or asphyxiation while asleep.
Lying down alone can trigger acid reflux effects, but it gets worse with certain positions. Lying flat on your stomach produces the same result as lying on your back, if not worse.
When youre lying flat on the bed, your stomach and esophagus are on the same level, making it easy for stomach contents to find their way into the esophagus. When youre standing up or sitting down, youre allowing gravity to move these digested bits throughout the rest of your stomach.
Lying on your stomach also tends to put pressure on your stomach. This alone could push the stomach contents to travel upwards and cause heartburn.
The next time you want to lie on your stomach, make sure your head is elevated. Support your neck with a pillow and keep it a few inches higher than your stomach. Otherwise, youre asking for a bad reflux episode.
Right Lateral Decubitus Worsens Heartburn
Studies have claimed that sleeping positions greatly influence the development of heartburns during night time.
Sleeping on the right side has been demonstrated to exacerbate the symptoms of acid reflux.
This might be due to the fact that sleeping on the right at night time worsens the pH and sphincter pressure, though it is still unclear why sphincter pressure is more influenced by this position.
One hypothesis suggests that this happens because the gastro-oesophageal junction lies just above the level of gastric acid in the left lateral position, meaning that in the right position, the stomach lies above the esophagus, making the acid flow more easily in the food pipe causing heartburns.
Whatever the reason may be, the total reflux time, acid clearance time and lower oesophageal sphincter relaxations have been reported to be prolonged and persistent in people sleeping on the right side.
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Sleep Position 2 To Avoid For Preventing Acid Reflux At Night
Position #2 to avoid at night issleeping flat on your right side.
Though reflux episodes may be less frequent on your right when compared to flat on your back, the episodes are more liquidy in nature because your LES is often submerged in the acidic stomach content.4
This position potentially creates a leaky faucet spouting stomach acid into the delicate lining of your esophagus.
While liquid reflux can be very distressing, it can also be dangerous as when flat on your right side, the amount of time acid lingers in your esophagus is much longer.3 Gravity is fighting an uphill battle as it is unable to effectively return refluxed content to your stomach.
If you suffer from nighttime heartburn, avoid lying flat on your right side.
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Why Is Gerd Worse After Going To Bed
There are several explanations for why GERD is commonly worse at night after going to bed:
- When lying down, gravity no longer helps keep stomach acid down, making it easier for reflux to occur.
- Saliva can help neutralize stomach acid, but production of saliva is reduced during deeper stages of sleep.
A combination of these effects can facilitate the leakage of stomach acid into the esophagus and allow the acid to remain in place for longer, potentially causing more severe GERD symptoms, including those that can disturb sleep. The problem may be even greater if a person goes to bed soon after eating and/or eats foods that trigger GERD.
Pathophysiological Consequences Of Sleep
CSB results in recurrent hypoxemia, hypercapnia, and hypocapnia, and increased negative intrathoracic pressure. These changes cause release of inflammatory mediators, increases in transmural pressure in cardiac chambers, and diminished oxygen delivery to tissues. The mean overnight urinary norepinephrine excretion level is significantly elevated in CHF patients with either OSA or CSA-CSB compared with those with CHF and no SDB, indicating increased overnight sympathetic activity.7 CSA-CSB is associated with nocturnal ventricular arrhythmiaspremature ventricular contractions , couplets, and ventricular tachycardiawhich decrease significantly when CSA is suppressed using continuous positive airway pressure .37 PVCs may be seen more in the hypercapnic phase of CSA than the apneic phase.38 In addition, atrial fibrillation is also common in CHF patients with CSA,3,39 although the causal relationship is unclear.
Whether these nocturnal arrhythmias or CSA-CSB affect outcome is unknown. Although patients with CSA-CSB and CHF have worse quality of life than those without CSA-CSB,40 CSA is not clearly associated with increased mortality in CHF patients.15,41 Thus, the data remain controversial as to whether CSA has independent prognostic utility in CHF.
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What Side Is Best For Gerd
Believe it or not, knowing the best side to sleep on may reduce your acid reflux symptoms. Sleeping on your right side can cause more acid to leak through your esophagus. Sleeping on your stomach or back makes GERD symptoms worse, too. To lower the risk of GERD problems, patients usually sleep best on their left sides.
What Is The Best Sleeping Position If I Have Acid Reflux
Sleeping with acid reflux can be downright impossible. Waking up in the middle of the night, choking on acid, and coughing violently are all symptoms of nighttime reflux.
At times it can feel like youll never get a good sleep. However, some research suggests that your sleeping position could in fact influence your nighttime reflux.
So, what is the best sleep position for acid reflux patients? Studies show that sleeping on your left side is better for acid reflux, whereas right-side sleeping is associated with longer esophageal acid exposure and high incidence of lower esophageal sphincter relaxation.
In this article, we discuss the science behind acid reflux and sleep, as well as the key tips to sleeping with your upper body elevated.
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