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Heartburn In The Middle Of The Night

How Does Heartburn Impact Sleep

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Research shows that over 60% of people suffering from heartburn or another reflux-related disease report disruptions in their sleep. People with heartburn symptoms are often unable to comfortably fall into a sleep state or are unable to stay asleep due to the painful, burning sensation in their chest.

40% of people with heartburn and sleep issues report that their sleep disruption directly impacts their overall functioning the following day. Heartburn may cause a cycle of poor sleep in which heartburn disrupts sleep, which increases fatigue. Fatigue increases unhealthy eating choices. These foods further increase heartburn symptoms, which increases stress and leads to even poorer sleep.

Once youre in the cycle of heartburn-related poor sleep, it can feel overwhelming. However, there are many ways you can reduce heartburn with small, daily lifestyle changes.

What Causes Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is the name for what happens when stomach acid makes its way up into the esophagus. Most often it’s because the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle valve that is supposed to keep stomach acid where it belongsin your stomach isn’t working properly.

There are a few things that can loosen the muscle, making it easier for acid to shoot back up. Eating certain foods, like citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, peppermint, garlic, onions, and anything spicy, fatty, or fried, is one of the biggest causes. So is drinking coffee, soda, or alcohol. Obesity and pregnancy can also lead to acid reflux because they put pressure on your abdomen, which can weaken your lower esophageal sphincter.

Tips For Nighttime Heartburn Relief

1. Sleep on your left side.This position seems to help reduce nighttime heartburn symptoms, says David A. Johnson, MD, internal medicine division chief at Eastern Virginia School of Medicine, Norfolk, Va. To remember which side to sleep on, Johnson offers this memory trick: Right is wrong.

2. Lose weight, even a little. Heartburn often just gets worse as you gain weight, but losing as little as two and a half pounds can help reduce heartburn symptoms, Johnson says.

3. Sleep with your upper body elevated. When you lay flat in bed, your throat and stomach are basically at the same level, making it easy for stomach acids to flow up your esophagus, causing heartburn. You can elevate your body in two ways:

  • Put the head of your bed on 4- to 6-inch blocks.
  • Sleep on a wedge-shaped pillow that’s at least 6 to 10 inches thick on one end. Don’t substitute regular pillows they just raise your head, and not your entire upper body.

4. Wear loose-fitting clothes. Tight clothes, especially near your waist, can put pressure on your stomach, leading to heartburn symptoms.

6. Steer clear of late-night meals or big meals. Avoid eating meals two to three hours before bedtime to reduce stomach acid and allow the stomach to partially empty its contents before you sleep, suggests the American Gastroenterological Association. Because large meals put pressure on your stomach, try eating a smaller meal in the evening to help prevent nighttime heartburn symptoms.

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The Link Between Nighttime Heartburn And Insomnia

The effects of nighttime heartburn aren’t confined to esophagus. It can also result in chronic insomnia. Nighttime heartburn can wake you up and keep you up.

“The symptoms definitely aggravate insomnia,” says Dave White, who has suffered from nighttime heartburn for years. “I’ll wake up with cutting heartburn pain and then have to wait for the effects of to kick in, which can take an hour or so. When that happens, I’ll just get out of bed, since I know I’ll be up anyway.”

One study showed just how common nighttime heartburn can be. Researchers questioned nearly 15,300 average people and found that a whopping 25% reported having nighttime heartburn. The results were published in the journal CHEST.

Another survey of 1,900 people with GERD in the U.S. and Europe found that about half had trouble sleeping at night. In these people, GERD symptoms caused a 22% impairment of leisure activities and a 15% impairment of their ability to work. The findings were presented during the 2005 Digestive Disease Week, an international conference for gastroenterologists. So the pain — and consequences — of nighttime heartburn go well beyond that burning in your chest.

What Are Reflux And Gerd

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The esophagus is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. If your child has reflux, his or her stomach contents come back up into the esophagus. Another name for reflux is gastroesophageal reflux .

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. It is a more serious and long-lasting type of reflux. If your child has reflux more than twice a week for a few weeks, it could be GERD.

Read Also: How Can You Get Heartburn

Additional Tips To Control Acid Reflux At Night

You can also make some lifestyle changes that may help you manage the occurrence of acid reflux at night and promote a well-rested night.

Some of these lifestyle recommendations include:

  • Limiting alcohol intake, heavy meals, fatty meals, and nighttime snacks
  • Eating in the early hours of evening time
  • Managing bodyweight if youre overweight or obese
  • Quitting smoking
  • Avoiding drugs that may limit the functioning of the esophagus like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • A doctor may also prescribe medications or recommend surgery to treat GERD when appropriate. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms so they can prescribe treatment or lifestyle recommendations to manage your condition and improve your sleep health.

    If you have GERD, youre not sentenced to a lifetime of sleepless nights from acid reflux at night. By making simple tweaks to your sleeping positionchoosing the Incline + Left-Side sleepingyou can take control of your symptoms and get the recovery sleep everyone deserves.

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    What Causes Acid Reflux At Night

    Acid reflux happens when the muscles at the lower part of the esophagus , which stop food from leaving the stomach, become weak or relaxed. However, gravity and anatomy play a massive role in the occurrence of nocturnal GERD symptoms.

    During the day, you are more likely to be uprightstanding or sitting up. So when stomach acid escapes, gravity and saliva quickly return the content to the stomach. Youre also more likely to manage GERD symptoms by staying upright, swallowing saliva, or taking antacids when youre awake.

    Plus, when upright, your esophagus naturally flows down into your stomach. This quick return of acid to your stomach typically makes your symptoms shorter and minimizes the potential harm acid can cause to the delicate lining of your esophagus.

    Evidence shows that acid reflux usually happens in the first two or three hours of sleep. It usually occurs when a person lays down soon after consuming heavy meals. Studies suggest that those with GERD are more likely to experience acid reflux when they consume heavy meals late at night .

  • Pregnancy
  • Weight gain
  • Taking drugs that affect the functioning of the esophagus like anticholinergic drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs
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    Dont Ignore Acid Reflux

    It makes sense to consult a doctor if you struggle with long-term and ongoing problems with heartburn. This means you experience it more than once a week, or have a condition that worsens and is continuous over time.

    Its also important to be honest about any problems you have with sleep or about any of the silent symptoms listed above. Reflux, for instance, could be the reason you have problems with insomnia.

    An accurate diagnosis may identify an undetected sleep breathing disorder as well. This knowledge can help you proactively seek appropriate treatment so you can sleep comfortably again.

    sleepapnea.org

    When Should I See A Doctor

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    Occasional heartburn is common and can often be self-treated with OTC medications and lifestyle changes. If your nighttime heartburn symptoms worsen, or two or more times a week, it may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease . While GERD is not life threatening, you should talk to a doctor if your symptoms persist for more than a couple weeks. Some individuals are able to manage the discomfort of GERD on their own, but in some cases, stronger medications or surgery may be needed to ease symptoms.

    Learn how to prevent heartburn before it starts with PEPCID® diet and lifestyle tips that can help manage heartburn in the long term.

    *BASED ON 9-HOUR ACID CONTROL STUDIES DURING THE DAY AND 12-HOUR ACID CONTROL STUDIES DURING THE NIGHT. ACID CONTROL DOES NOT IMPLY SYMPTOM RELIEF.

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    Avoid Eating Before Bed

    Night-time heartburn is heartburn that occurs at night, and 79% of weekly heartburn sufferers may experience it.1 When you are upright, gravity helps keep stomach acid in the stomach where it belongs, but when you lie down at night, it can become easier for stomach acid to push past your lower esophageal sphincter and leak into your esophagus.

    For many people, night-time heartburn can be more disruptive than the symptoms they experience throughout the day. Night-time heartburn can make it hard to fall, and stay, asleep.

    Suffering from night-time heartburn, even once a week, can cause fatigue, decrease productivity at work, and overall impact to your daily life. This type of heartburn also has been linked to increased snoring.

    To manage your night-time heartburn, consider making changes to your diet and lifestyle, such as avoiding eating before bed or sleeping with your upper body slightly elevated.2

    Antacids like TUMS work quickly to bring you heartburn relief. Keep a bottle beside your bed, so you can get back to sleep faster. Take medication at night in an upright position, before lying down to resume sleep. If your night-time heartburn doesnt improve, you may want to talk to your doctor about Nexium 24HR , a proton pump inhibitor that requires only one pill for all day and night relief.3

    References

  • Fries, Wendy C. “28 Tips for Nighttime Heartburn Relief.” WebMD. N.p., n.d. Web. .
  • What Treatments Might The Doctor Give For My Child’s Gerd

    If changes at home do not help enough, the doctor may recommend medicines to treat GERD. The medicines work by lowering the amount of acid in your child’s stomach.

    Some medicines for GERD in children are over-the-counter, and some are prescription medicines. They include:

    • Over-the-counter antacids
    • H2 blockers, which decrease acid production
    • Proton pump inhibitors , which lower the amount of acid the stomach makes
    • Prokinetics, which help the stomach empty faster

    If these don’t help and your child still has severe symptoms, then surgery might be an option. A pediatric gastroenterologist, a doctor who treats children who have digestive diseases, would do the surgery.

    NIH: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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    Why Does Heartburn Seem Worse At Night

    For most people, it can seem like their acid reflux symptomsincluding heartburnworsen at night. Thats usually because lying down can trigger acid reflux as it makes it easier for stomach acid to rise into the esophagus. Although heartburn can be unavoidable for patients with GERD, there are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of experiencing pesky nighttime heartburn.

    Is Gerd Causing Your Night Sweats

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    Overview

    Night sweats happen while youre sleeping. You can sweat so much that your sheets and clothing get wet. This uncomfortable experience can wake you up and make it hard to fall back asleep.

    Menopause is a common cause of night sweats, but other medical conditions can also cause these uncomfortable episodes. Some medical conditions that cause night sweats may be serious, such as cancers. Other times, night sweats can be caused by less serious conditions including gastroesophageal reflux disease . While night sweats arent the most prominent or common symptom of GERD, they may be a sign that your condition isnt under control.

    If youre experiencing night sweats, make an appointment with your doctor. They can help determine if theyre caused by GERD or another condition.

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    Know Your Medication Side Effects

    Certain medications may contribute to GERD. Some common ones include:

    If these or other medications are causing acid reflux or other symptoms, tell your doctor. Alternative treatments may be available.

    Don’t Consume Foods And Drinks That Can Trigger The Reflux

    Certain foods like coffee, tea, spicy food, meat, fish, oily food, milk products, and alcohol may trigger your symptoms of acid reflux. Consider avoiding these foods as they may lead to acid reflux and regurgitation. Instead, prefer foods that can suppress acid production, such as ginger, honey, peppermint, etc.

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    Tips To Avoid Heartburn At Night

    Do you go to bed feeling good, only to wake up a couple of hours later with terrible heartburn? If heartburn is keeping you up at night, its time to take some action. The best thing you can do arm yourself with the right knowledge to keep acid reflux symptoms at bay and get a restful nights sleep.

    What Is The Treatment For Heartburn

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    The health care professional will recommend treating heartburn in a stepwise fashion. For mild or occasional symptoms, simple lifestyle modifications may be enough. The next step is nonprescription antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, or Rolaids. Other treatments include acid blockers and even surgery. In most cases, one or more of these treatments provide relief from heartburn and prevent it from turning into a more serious disease.

    I take nonprescription antacids for heartburn, but they dont seem to help.

    Nonprescription antacids are only part of the treatment for heartburn. They can work very well, but these antacids alone usually cant stop heartburn. A health care professional will probably recommend that the patient make lifestyle changes in addition to other treatments.

    What kind of lifestyle changes and remedies can I make to reduce heartburn?

    Try any or all of the following:

    Will these changes stop the heartburn?

    They may. If they dont, adding a nonprescription antacid can be helpful.

    How do antacids work?

    What if lifestyle changes and antacids dont work?

    If a person still has symptoms after lifestyle modifications and antacids, a health care professional probably will prescribe a stronger drug. The usual choice is one of the histamine-2 blockers, or acid blockers. These drugs block the biochemical process that creates acid in the stomach.

    What are acid blockers?

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    Dont Eat For At Least 3 Hours Before Going To Bed

    One habit that can make nighttime acid reflux and heartburn worse, and cause acid reflux in the morning, is eating right before bed. Many people prefer to have dinner closer to bedtime, but for those who struggle with acid reflux, this can be a recipe for disaster.

    What can you do? Move dinner a little earlier, and cut down on the late night snacking. You should have your last meal or snack of the day around 3 hours before getting into bed. With a bigger window of time between your last meal and going to sleep, your stomach has a chance to empty so it wont have anything to reflux when you go to sleep.

    Note that some foods, like tomato sauce, citrus, and spicy food can worsen reflux symptoms. Its also a good idea to avoid excess drinking and smoking these can also trigger GERD at any hour of the day.

    Otc Medicines For Heartburn

    If changes to your lifestyle don’t ease your nighttime heartburn, over-the-counter medications may do the trick, Cheskin says. The tried and true treatments — the ones your mom always gave you — are antacids, which neutralize the acid in the stomach. These include liquids like Maalox or Mylanta, and solid tablets like Rolaids or Tums. “They can be very effective,” Cheskin says, “but the problem is that you have to take them more frequently, since they only last a couple of hours.”

    But Spechler is skeptical. In cases of GERD that are bad enough to require them, he thinks that medicine is usually more effective and easier to live with. “Frankly,” Spechler says, “unless the condition is especially severe, or there’s some very compelling reason why a person shouldn’t take medicine, I don’t see any reason to torture patients with very tight dietary restrictions or elevating the head of the bed.”

    Another class of over-the-counter medicines is H2 receptor antagonists, which reduce the production of acid by the stomach. Some examples are Pepcid AC, Tagamet HB, Zantac 75, and Axid AR.

    Studies show that over-the-counter medications can help with symptoms in 60% to 70% of people with chronic heartburn or GERD.

    Recommended Reading: Why Do I Have Heartburn After Eating

    Check If You Have Acid Reflux

    The main symptoms of acid reflux are:

    • heartburn a burning sensation in the middle of your chest
    • an unpleasant sour taste in your mouth, caused by stomach acid

    You may also have:

    • a cough or hiccups that keep coming back
    • a hoarse voice

    Your symptoms will probably be worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over.

    Cut Out Stress And Anxiety

    How To Treat Heartburn In The Middle Of The Night â ho ...

    Stress and anxiety can be a major contributor to heartburn and indigestion and can have a real impact on our digestive system so it is imperative to try to keep our stress levels as low as we can. Make sure you get enough sleep each night and do things that make you happy. You could take up yoga or meditation to help you relax even more!

    Read Also: How To Relieve Chronic Heartburn

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