Tip #: Elevate Your Head While You Sleep
As we mentioned, lying down can make acid reflux and heartburn worse, so try propping your head up with a pillow while you sleep to make it harder for stomach acid to travel up.
Heartburn and sleep dont have to go hand in hand. Try making some lifestyle and diet changes to ensure you get the good nights sleep you need. If you continue to experience chronic acid reflux and nighttime heartburn, you can schedule an appointment to see a heartburn specialist at Tampa Bay Reflux Center, who can determine whether or not you have gastroesophageal reflux disease , which is a chronic form of acid reflux.
How To Treat Nighttime Acid Reflux
If youre having trouble getting to sleep at night because of your acid reflux, youre not alone more than 50 million Americans reportedly suffer from more than 80 different sleep disorders. Fortunately, when you alleviate reflux during the night, it can lessen the severity of your daytime symptoms and minimize the chance that you experience associated health problems in the future. Your esophagus has a chance to heal with several hours free of acid and youre more likely to get the quality sleep that you need. With that being said, here are some of the available options for treating nighttime acid reflux.
Gerd And Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Research has also identified a link between GERD and obstructive sleep apnea , a sleep disorder that involves blockage of the airway that incites pauses in breathing during sleep. Debate exists among experts about whether GERD causes OSA, OSA causes GERD, or if they simply share similar risk factors.
It is possible that GERD affects the airway and ability to breathe normally, causing more apneas during the night. At the same time, people with OSA wake up frequently at night and may then detect GERD symptoms. Lack of sleep from OSA may make the esophagus more susceptible to reflux.
In addition, factors like alcohol consumption, smoking, and obesity can increase risk for both GERD and OSA, so the correlation between the conditions may be a result of these factors.
While the exact relationship between GERD and OSA is subject to further research, it is clear that the conditions can occur together and create significant complications for a persons sleep, comfort, and overall health.
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The Effect Of Ppi And Lifestyle
While lifestyle changes can help, regurgitation responds poorly to acid suppressive therapy and it is easy to understand why. If the function of the reflux barrier, the LES, is compromised enough, free reflux occurs. PPIs and other acid suppressive medications do nothing to improve the barrier. Therefore, whatever is in the stomach, acid or non-acid material, will continue to reflux and regurgitation continues. Once significant regurgitation reoccurs, your condition has failed medical therapy.
Since medical therapy has failed, treatment options are limited to those that restore the barrier. This requires a minimally invasive surgical approach that should be seriously considered for a return to a normal quality of life.
Try Slippery Elm To Get Rid Of Heartburn
Slippery elm has been traditionally used by Native Americans for treating various conditions including wounds, boils, ulcers, burns, skin inflammation as well as coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach problems. The herb has mucilage, a component that converts into a slick gel when it is mixed with water. It gives slippery elm its demulcent property due to which it coats and soothes the area where it is directed. In case of heartburn, it coats the layer of mucous that lines your stomach and thus creates a barrier against acid that could not find its way up to your esophagus.
- Add the slippery elm powder to water or milk whatever you are comfortable with.
- Stir it well to mix the powder completely into the water.
- You may have it 1-3 times a day depending upon the severity of your heartburn.
- Have this herbal drink after your meals and at bedtime.
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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.
Big Meals And Eating Certain Foods
The occasional episode of acid reflux may also just be the result of a little more acid production than usual perhaps brought on by a particularly large meal or your sensitivity to certain foods.
And if you lie down before all your food is digested, you run the risk of having some of that excess acid leak through the sphincter.
Regardless of the cause of your acid reflux, lying down whether its at night or during the day is bound to worsen symptoms and prolong the time it will take your body to digest your food completely.
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Back Sleeping: Avoid Whenever Possible
What may be the best sleeping position for some could actually aggravate GERD symptoms. Back sleeping is the worst for those with acid reflux at night. When acid escapes from your stomach and you are sleeping flat on your back, it is able to flow freely into your esophagus and beyondand stay there. Studies show that in this position, symptoms are often more frequent and tend to last longer 3 because the acid has nowhere to go. The severity of your symptoms may also increase if you have stomach fat, which 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.
Learn more about your own sleep and getpersonalized advice using the SleepScore app.
Is Gerd Keeping You Up At Night
People with GERD often have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep because of persistent acid reflux. Find out how to cut down on this problem.
Youre trying to get a good nights sleep, but it just isnt happening. In addition to tossing and turning, the burning sensation of heartburn isnt making your sleep efforts any easier.
Whats going on? Was it something you ate? Your sleeping position?
Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, are frequent causes of sleeplessness. As many as one in four people who experience sleep disturbances report that they have nighttime heartburn.
For people who have been diagnosed with GERD, the rate is even higher three people out of four report having nocturnal GERD symptoms. These individuals are more likely to suffer sleep problems such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and daytime sleepiness as a result of their nighttime heartburn.
Sleeplessness poses a serious health problem. In addition to the physical and mental effects that stem from lack of sleep, people who experience nocturnal GERD are at greater risk for some of the worst complications of the disease, including erosive esophagitis, dyspepsia, and esophageal cancer.
How Does GERD Disturb Sleep?
Researchers have figured out several ways in which GERD-related acid reflux interferes with sleep:
GERD and Sleep Position: Dos and Don’ts
If you are a GERD sufferer, you can do a lot to improve your quality of sleep by changing your sleeping position. Doctors recommend that you:
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Is It Just Heartburn Or Gerd
Frequent heartburn can be a major issue. If you experience heartburn two or more times a week, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease .
In this chronic condition, frequent exposure to stomach acid irritates and damages the esophagus. Over time, that can lead to problems such as difficulty swallowing. An estimated 40 percent of Americans report symptoms of GERD but the condition can significantly improve with lifestyle changes.
If you’ve tried home remedies and lifestyle adjustments and still have frequent heartburn, consult with your family doctor or a gastroenterologist. There are multiple treatments that can help, including medications and minimally invasive surgery for acid reflux.
Use Fennel And Its Seeds For Heartburn Cure
Fennel has a pH of 6.9 and thus is included in effective foods for heartburn relief. In fact, this herb is good not only for heartburn but many other diseases or conditions related to stomach problems such as indigestion, constipation, flatulence and bloating. Fennel has a volatile oil made up of such components as fenchone, trans-anethole, limonene and a-pinene. All these substances have a carminative effect that provides soothing relief to your stomach and prevents all kinds of digestive disorders including heartburn. The crunchy vegetables as well as the seeds of fennel, both are effective for heartburn.
Ways to Use Fennel for Heartburn
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Preventing Nighttime Heartburn For Better Sleep
Trying to get a good nights sleep is extremely difficult when you wake up with heartburn, chest pains and a burning sore throat. However, there is a way you can get a good nights sleep
First of all do not eat any food including snacks at least 3 hours before you go to bed. This will allow your digestion the time it needs to digest the food properly.
The last meal of the day should consist of small portions and exclude any foods that can trigger your acid reflux.
Common trigger food and drinks include fried foods, chocolate, coffee. alcohol and citrus fruits.
Avoid drinking large quantities of liquids as this will fill the contents of your stomach and add pressure to the LES.
Improve your sleeping position by raising the angle of your upper body and head. You can easily do this by adding extra pillows behind your back and head.
If you prefer to sleep on your side, lie on your left side rather than your right. Studies have revealed that sleeping on your left side can lower incidences of acid reflux at night.
This is based on the theory that your left side position makes it more difficult for stomach acid to flow into your esophagus. Consequently, lying on the right side makes the symptoms of acid reflux worse.
Tips For Improving Your Sleep Habits
If you struggle with getting a good nights rest, here are some simple tips to improve your sleep quality. Should you continue to have trouble sleeping or if you do not feel well rested during the day despite being in bed at night, you may want to speak to your doctor.
- Stick to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at a regular time .
- Exercise. Include regular exercise into your schedule.
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine. It can take 8 hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off.
- Avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol keeps you in the lighter stages of sleep.
- Avoid large meals and beverages late at night. This can cause reflux as well as cause you to awaken frequently to use the bathroom.
- Avoid naps after eating, it can cause reflux.
- Dont take naps after 3 pm. It might interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
- Relax before bed. This should be a daily part of your sleep ritual.
- Have a good sleeping environment. Get rid of anything that might distract or interrupt your sleep such as TVs, computers, bright lights, or noises.
- Dont lie awake in bed. If you are awake in bed for more than 20 minutes, get up and do a relaxing activity until you feel sleepy.
Adapted from IFFGD Publication: Research Award Report: Sleep and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease by Ronnie Fass, MD, Head of the Esophageal and Swallowing Center, Metro Health Medical Center, Cleveland, OH.
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Natural Remedy: Use Baking Soda
You may find relief from infrequent heartburn with sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda. Simply mix ½ teaspoon with four ounces of water to help neutralize the acid. Note this contains sodium and should not be used if you are on a sodium-restricted diet. Check with your doctor if you are taking any prescriptions drugs, are pregnant or have a chronic health condition before using baking soda to relieve heartburn.
Benefits Of Propping Up Your Body
Has your doctor recommended that you sleep at an incline using a bed wedge or putting blocks under your bed frame? Studies show that sleeping at an incline decreases reflux symptoms and allows your body to get stomach acid back to your stomach quicker 8. As long as your entire torso is elevated , sleeping at an incline gives gravity a power boost to return stomach acid to your stomach and keep it there.
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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.
For Long Term Relief Of Night Time Acid Reflux
Taking antacids or proton pump inhibitors may provide short term relief, but they are not going to permanently solve the problem.
Actually, continued use of over the counter acid reflux relief medications can actually make your heartburn worse.
More research is revealing that a lack of stomach acid as a result of using antacids and H2 blockers prevents food from being properly digested.
Undigested food ferments, irritates the lining of the stomach which triggers the production of more acid!
The best way to solve the problem of acid reflux at night is to rebalance your digestive system. Your reflux problem is a clear sign that your digestion is unbalanced.
An unbalanced digestion is caused by a greater number of bad bacteria in your gut than there are good bacteria.
You can rebalance your digestion by eating natural foods that are highly nutritious and these include your raw vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds and nuts.
These foods are high in dietary fibre and natural prebiotics that feed and replenish your friendly bacteria and keep the bad bacteria at bay.
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Tip #: Stay Away From Trigger Foods
For people suffering with acid reflux and heartburn, many of them have trigger foods that will either cause symptoms to occur or make symptoms worse. Some common trigger foods include spicy foods, acidic foods, coffee, high-fat foods, and red wine. So as tempting as it may be to end the night with a bowl of ice cream or a relaxing glass of wine, take a moment to decide whether or not its worth the heartache youll experience later!
Different Stages Of Sleep
A sleep cycle goes through stages that consist of two basic states: non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement sleep. Each stage of the cycle is vital to getting a good nights rest.
- Stage 1: This is a brief stage a sleep between being awake and fully asleep. This stage is characterized by slowed muscle activity.
- Stage 2: The second stage of sleep is when the body temperature drops, brain waves become slower, and the breathing and heart rate stay regular.
- Stage 34: The most restorative sleep occurs during these stages. The breathing slows down, the blood pressure drops, and activity stops in the muscles. Energy is restored and repair to tissue occurs. Hormones for growth and development are also released in this stage.
- Stage 5: The only stage of REM sleep is stage 5. Breathing becomes rapid and irregular. The heart rate increases and the blood pressure rises. This stage gives energy to the body and the brain as the muscles are even more relaxed. It is in this stage that dreams occur. Studies also suggest that REM sleep stimulates the part of the brain used for learning and memory.
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