Reduced Risk Of Snoring And Sleep Apnea
People may snore up to 50% more often when sleeping on their sides instead of their backs. When you sleep on your back, it is easier for your tongue to fall back into your throat, creating an obstruction that can result in snoring.
When you sleep on your side, your airway stays open, so you can breathe easier. For this reason, physicians recommend people with sleep apnea, a serious sleep-related breathing disorder, sleep on their side to help relieve symptoms.
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.
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.
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Sleep Tips For Heartburn
Most people have their worst heartburn at night. That’s because heartburn has a lot to do with gravity. When you’re in bed and lying down, gravity isn’t working in your favor.
Here’s how the problem starts. When you swallow foods and drinks, they flow through your esophagus down to your stomach. Think of the point where the esophagus and stomach meet as a gate made of a circular ring of muscle. This is the lower esophageal sphincter . It opens to let food and drink pass through. As soon as they do, the gate closes.
Gastric juices made in your stomach to digest food are meant to stay there. If they escape back through the LES gate, they irritate the esophagus. You then experience heartburn.
The reason heartburn is worse at night is that the LES has to work against gravity. When you are lying flat, especially if you have food in your stomach, all those gastric juices are knocking at the gate.
Pro Tips For Sleeping On Your Back
Changing your sleep position isnt easy, as our bodies have grown accustomed to our sleep ritual for years, Fish says. But using a pillow in different ways can help jump-start the change.
Here are some pro tips to consider:
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Why Back Sleeping Is Probably Bad For The Heart
If you are carrying any extra weight, back sleeping is definitely bad for your heart. This is because when you sleep on your back, the extra weight collapses your airway . And studies show that sleep apnea dramatically increases your risk of heart failure and atrial fibrillation.
Stomach sleeping is another possibility. However, as I have learned personally, stomach sleeping is a perfect recipe for neck and back issues.
Tip #: Sleep With Your Upper Body Elevated
When you lay flat on your back, it makes it easier for stomach acid to flow up through your stomach to the esophagus to your throat. One of the easiest ways to elevate your head and neck is to use a wedge pillow that is 6 to 8 inches thick at one end. These pillows prevent you from reclining into a bent position. A bent position can put pressure on the stomach and produce reflux. Look for wedge pillows in maternity sections of stores, medical supply stores, and some drug stores.
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Insomnia And Acid Reflux: A Double Whammy
Insomnia is a broad term used to describe a variety of sleeping problems. In essence, a person has insomnia if he/she is either unable to fall asleep or remain asleep for sufficient periods of time to awake refreshed. Acid Reflux adversely affects sleep quality by awakening the patient from sleep during the night. While insomnia and acid reflux are two different medical problems, they often co-exist together to throw in a double whammy.
Studies have found a significant association between disturbed sleep and GERD, and this may be bidirectional. Sleep disturbances induce gastrointestinal distress, while at the same time GI symptoms only worsen sleep patterns. According to research done by Mayo Clinic College of Medicine Nighttime reflux can lead to sleep disturbance and sleep disturbance may further aggravate GERD by prolonged acid contact time and heightened sensory perception. This may facilitate the occurrence of complicated GERD and decreased quality of life. The interplay between sleep problems and GERD is complex.
Many patients with GERD experience sleep fragmentation. Whats worse, sleep deprivation can adversely affect GERD severity by enhancing the perception of acid in the esophagus causing esophageal hypersensitivity, and potentially by increasing esophageal acid exposure time. In a nutshell Heartburn makes it difficult to sleep, inadvertently causing insomnia. You can remedy this by addressing the heartburn, not the insomnia.
Why Sleeping Can Be Difficult
The first and most pressing reason behind sleep problems during pregnancy is the increasing size of the fetus, which can make it hard to find a comfortable sleeping position. If you’ve always been a back or stomach sleeper, you might have trouble getting used to sleeping on your side . Also, shifting around in bed becomes more difficult as the pregnancy progresses and you get bigger.
Other common physical symptoms may interfere with sleep as well:
Your sleep problems might have other causes as well. Many pregnant women report that their dreams become more vivid than usual, and some even have nightmares.
Stress can interfere with sleep, too. Maybe you’re worried about your baby’s health, anxious about your abilities as a parent, or feeling nervous about the delivery itself. All of these feelings are normal, but they might keep you up at night.
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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.
How Do You Prevent Heartburn When Exercising
You will feel a sour liquid in your mouth along with irritation in the esophagus.
If you’re experiencing heartburn frequently, you should speak to your doctor about it. As for at-home remedies, exercise is an excellent way to lose weight, which is one of the causes of heartburn. However, some people may experience heartburn after exercise or during a workout.
If you can relate, follow these six tips to ease exercise heartburn.
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Sleep Position 1 To Avoid For Preventing Acid Reflux At Night
Nighttime heartburn can be tough for back sleepers making it position #1 to avoid at night.
When laying flat on your back, a poorly functioning LES can allow acidic stomach contents to flow freely into the esophagus.
Studies have shown that in this position, symptoms are often more frequent and tend to last longer.3
The severity of your symptoms may also increase if you have stomach fat, which pushes down on your stomach and LES and can force contents back up into the esophagus and beyond. To reduce your nighttime heartburn and decrease the risks associated with prolonged acid exposure, try to stay off your back at night.
Figure 2: Representation of stomach when youre laying flat on your back.
When To Consider A Different Sleeping Position
If you find you cannot get comfortable sleeping on your side, you may want to switch to sleeping on your back instead. The back sleeping position offers many potential benefits, including back pain relief, especially when used in combination with side sleeping.
If you switch from side to back sleeping, a thinner pillow may help support your new sleep position. While side sleepers often sleep best with a higher loft pillow, back sleepers do better with a medium loft a pillow that is high enough to provide cushioning for the neck, but not too high that it causes their chin to tilt forward into the chest.
Additionally, while side sleeping offers a range of benefits, there are two key concerns that may be better served by another sleep position: wrinkles and shoulder pain.
If you are worried about wrinkles, be aware that sleeping on your side with your face pressed into the pillow can compress and stress your skin, leading to wrinkles. Sleeping on your back allows you to reduce this wrinkle-causing pressure.
Side sleeping can also lead to or exacerbate existing shoulder pain, since you are placing more pressure on the shoulder facing the mattress. To minimize your risk of shoulder pain, try alternating between sides. It may also help to focus on keeping your head and neck aligned evenly with both shoulders, and use a supportive mattress and pillow combination that does not let you sink too deeply into the mattress.
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Can Sleeping Positions Affect Acid Reflux
Sufferers of acid reflux know how difficult it can be to try and get a good nights sleep. Eating a high-fat diet, engaging in exercise before falling asleep, and being exposed to high levels of stress can result in wakefulness throughout the night. But its not just these things that could exacerbate reflux symptoms during bedtime.
What position you sleep in at night can also affect your reflux symptoms, studies suggest. As a patient, have you ever noticed that some nights tend to be better than others? Thats because some sleeping positions worsen acid reflux symptoms.
If You Have Heart Failure
Studies show that many people with heart failure naturally choose to sleep on their right side and avoid sleeping on the left side. Echocardiograms of people with heart failure show that left side sleeping impacts the way the heart functions, potentially causing discomfort.
People with heart failure should also avoid sleeping on their backs, since it puts pressure on the lungs and can contribute to sleep apnea symptoms. More than half of people experiencing heart failure also have a type of sleep apnea.
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Second Worst: On Your Side With Knees Drawn Up To Chest
The fetal position may be comforting at the moment, but this can lead to neck and back pain, wrinkles, and saggy breasts. Sleeping in the fetal position can cause a strain on your back and joints, especially when your knees and chin are tucked into your chest. Melamed suggests we avoid sleeping on our side, like the fetal position, because the shoulder and neck should be aligned when sleeping. You should choose a softer mattress to avoid press points but not one so soft that it doesn’t properly support your neck, he said.
Sleep positions and the type of mattress you have play a major role in providing support along the contours of your body as you lie in bed. Placing pressure to any given parts of the body can disrupt sleep. A good nights sleep requires a good sleeping environment, a good mattress, and plenty of rest.
Benefits Of Sleeping On The Back
- Even weight distribution: Sleeping on the back takes pressure off the hips and shoulders.
- Stable spine position: The head, neck, and spine can rest in a neutral position.
- Better pain management: A person is less likely to experience pain.
- Reduces grinding of teeth: A person is less likely to clench their jaw or grind their teeth while asleep.
- Helps prevent facial wrinkles: It reduces pressure on the face, resulting in fewer facial wrinkles.
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Back To Basics For Pain Relief
There are plenty of positives from sleeping on your back, Fish says. First off, it is easier to keep your spine aligned.
Sleeping on your back may also reduce discomfort by lessening compression and pain from old injuries or other chronic conditions.
Finding a comfortable position with any chronic pain condition can be a struggle. But starting out on your back with strategic, trial-and-error pillow support might help.
Pro tip for back sleeping
Sleep on a wedge pillow or elevate the head of your bed 6 inches. Lie with legs spread hip-width distance apart and your arms spread in a goalpost formation. Elevate your knees with a pillow.
Side sleeping is the safest choice if you snore or have sleep apnea. But an elevation method could help with these conditions if you prefer sleeping on your back. Talk to your doctor about whats best for you.
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.
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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.