Causes Of Heartburn At Night
Despite its name, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart.
Heartburn happens when the lower esophageal sphincter does not work properly.
Normally, the lower esophageal sphincter opens to let food and liquid into the stomach, then closes to keep the contents inside.
When you have heartburn, the lower esophageal sphincter weakens or relaxes too much.
This allows stomach acid to leak into the esophagus.
Acid reflux, and therefore heartburn, is often worse at night because lying down makes it easier for the contents of the stomach to flow through the lower esophageal sphincter and back into the esophagus.
Think about it: When youre standing up, gravity is on your side. When youre horizontal, its not.
While they do not cause heartburn, certain factors can increase the risk of heartburn:
- Being pregnant
- Being overweight/obese
What Are Some Ways To Sleep Better With Heartburn
Creating a sleep hygiene routine that is easy and comfortable to follow may also help improve your sleep. Taking steps such as setting a sleep schedule, creating a quiet, dark bedroom environment, and avoiding eating in the hours before you go to sleep might help. Choose pajamas that are loose around the waist to prevent any restriction around the stomach that could impact your heartburn symptoms.
Make Lunch Your Biggest Meal Of The Day
Eating a big meal can put pressure on your stomach and allow acid to travel back up into your esophagusand that will only be compounded if you lie down soon afterward. To prevent a major case of acid reflux at night, Huber recommends eating a heavier lunch and a lighter dinner. I’ve started to spend a few hours on Sunday meal prep so that I can get more substantial lunches ready for the week.
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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.
Figure 3: Representation of stomach when youre layingflat on your right side.
When Should I Call My Doctor About My Heartburn
Even though heartburn is common, it can sometimes lead to more serious health problems. Severe, chronic heartburn has been linked to inflammation and narrowing of the esophagus, respiratory problems, chronic cough, GERD, and Barretts esophagus, which may lead to esophageal cancer.
You should contact your doctor if:
- Your heartburn wont go away.
- Your heartburn symptoms become more severe or frequent.
- Its hard or hurts to swallow.
- Your heartburn causes you to vomit.
- You have had substantial, unexpected weight loss.
- You take over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks and you still have heartburn symptoms.
- You have heartburn symptoms even after taking prescription medicines.
- You have serious hoarseness or wheezing.
- Your discomfort interferes with your lifestyle or daily activities.
Does Heartburn Impact Mental Health
Heartburn symptoms can be distressing and painful. Although heartburn does not cause mental health disorders, there does appear to be a link between heartburn and an increase in depression and anxiety .
Heartburn symptoms can include chest pains. Heartburn patients report an increase in anxiety when experiencing chest pains. Depression and stress are known to impact the gastrointestinal system, and therefore may make heartburn worse. Additionally, heartburn can cause disruptions in sleep and there is evidence that poor sleep impacts mental health as well.
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
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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.
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:
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What Are The Symptoms Of Gerd
Heartburn, which involves a painful burning sensation in the chest, is the most common symptom of GERD, but not all cases of GERD involve heartburn.
Another common symptom of GERD is regurgitation, which means a small amount of stomach acid and sometimes bits of food come up into the mouth or back of the throat.
When leaks of stomach acid rise to the mouth and throat, it can cause coughing and a feeling of choking. It may cause a sore throat, including a hoarse voice. Some patients experience difficulty swallowing, known as dysphagia, or the feeling of something blocking their throat.
On top of the discomfort from heartburn, GERD can cause radiating chest pain that can affect the neck, back, jaw, or arms and last for minutes to hours. This symptom is frequently associated with nighttime awakenings for people with GERD.
What Do Antacids Do
Over-the-counter antacids can provide short-term relief for occasional heartburn. They neutralize stomach acid so it won’t cause heartburn. Choose from dissolvable or chewable tablets or liquids. If antacids don’t do the trick or you use them more than a few times a week, see your doctor to find the right treatment for you.
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How Does Heartburn Impact Sleep
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.
Best Sleeping Positions For Heartburn
LEFT OR RIGHT?
Its advisable to sleep on your left side. Sleeping on the right has been found to relax the connecting muscles between the stomach and the oesophagus. When these muscles are contracting they help to control the process of acid reflux.
FRONT OR BACK?
Try to avoid sleeping on your front. This can put pressure on your stomach which pushes acid upwards to cause heartburn. This is more likely to happen if you are overweight or obese, but you should try other positions to see whats best for you, regardless of your weight.
UP OR DOWN?
When lying in bed, raising your head and shoulders a few inches can stop acid rising towards your chest and causing heartburn. A wedge shaped pillow or a few blocks that elevate the whole upper body can work wonders when youre trying to sleep with acid reflux.
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Maintain A Moderate Weight
Obesity or overweight can influence the frequency of experiencing acid reflux. This is because extra weight, especially around the abdomen, can put pressure on the stomach and lead to acid spilling up into the esophagus.
Sometimes weight loss can help reduce symptoms. Speak to your doctor to see if they recommend this.
What Helps Heartburn Fast At Night
These tips can quickly help relieve nighttime heartburn.
22. Prop yourself up in bed
Keeping yourself upright in bed can help take some pressure off your stomach and valve and relieve symptoms.
23. Try baking soda and water
Baking soda can help neutralize acid. Try drinking a half teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 4 ounces of warm water.
24. Take antacids
You can buy antacids from your pharmacy. These work by changing your stomach acid that causes heartburn.
25. Try over-the-counter histamine-2 blockers
Histamine-2 blockers help heartburn by changing how much acid your stomach makes. These can relieve symptoms for a few hours.
26. Try OTC proton pump inhibitors
You can try these medications from your pharmacy if nothing else is working. These should only be taken for 14 days at a time and only 3 times a year.
27. Take prescription medications
If nothing helps your heartburn, talk to your doctor. They can give you stronger prescription medications.
Sometimes surgery on your esophagus sphincter can help heartburn that doesnt get better with treatment. Talk to your doctor about ongoing heartburn.
How A Doctor Can Help
If you have heartburn two or more times a week and changes to your diet or eating pattern haven’t helped, consult a doctor. A gastroenterologist can perform tests to measure the acidity in your stomach and see if frequent acid reflux has damaged your esophagus.
GERD is often treatable through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. But persistent symptoms of reflux need thorough evaluation by a gastroenterologist who can find the underlying cause and discuss available treatment options.
The Johns Hopkins Heartburn Center
GERD is an ongoing condition that often requires more attention than over-the-counter treatments can offer. The Heartburn Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine provides personalized care to help patients find relief.
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.
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What Are The Best Sleeping Positions For Heartburn
Sleeping on your left side may reduce your heartburn symptoms because it relieves the pressure on your stomach and allows for food to move to the lower part of the stomach. Conversely, some research suggests that lying on your right side aggravates heartburn and GERD .
Sleeping with the head of your bed elevated is another good way for people with heartburn to slip into a restful slumber. Heartburn is a result of the stomach contents coming back up into the esophagus, so utilizing gravity by elevating the head and upper body helps keep your stomach contents where they should be. You can purchase wedge pillows that keep you propped up all night, thus reducing heartburn.
Additionally, you can opt to raise the top two posts of your bed frame to elevate your upper body when you sleep. Bed raisers are available online and come in different heights to fit your preference. Just make sure that if your bed frame does not have a sturdy footboard, you secure your mattress to prevent it from slipping.
Waking Up With Heartburn At Middle Of The Night Here Are Some Solutions
Why Do You Want To Recommend this Blog?
Heartburn is the common symptoms among many of us. It is generally due to underlying acid peptic diseases like gastritis, gastro oesophageal reflux diseases, barret oesophagus and so on. Heartburn is commonly seen at early morning or late night. Sometimes, the symptom of heartburn is so terribling that it makes us awake at the middle of the night.
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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.
Symptoms Of Heartburn At Night
Its common for heartburn to become more pronounced in the evening.
People who experience heartburn at night typically report the following symptoms:
- Worse pain when lying down or bending over
- A bitter or acidic taste in the mouth
These heartburn symptoms can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours.
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When Should I See A Doctor
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.
*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.