Elevation of the head of the bed, or left side sleeping position will help you in getting relief from acid reflux at night. Also, avoid late heavy meals and don’t lie down for 3 hrs after having food.
Are you one of those who is experiencing heartburn or acid reflux at night? You are not alone. US population survey show, 44% of Americans experience heartburn at least once per day.
Heartburn causes a burning sensation in your chest and upper abdomen.
Acid reflux causes heartburn. It is a common condition that many people have experienced throughout the day or at a specific time of the day. Acid reflux at night can seriously damage your sleep.
Why does Acid reflux happen?
Stomach acids digest food. Heart Burn occurs when the stomach acid finds its way back into your esophagus (food pipe). This causes a burning sensation and other chronic conditions associated with acid reflux.
The acid reflux occurs due to excessive relaxation of the lower esophageal Sphincter (LES). LES can be relaxed due to many reasons like pregnancy, food triggers, triggers from bad habits, some chronic health conditions and sometimes due to some congenital and acquired illness like Hiatus Hernia.
How many people affected by Acid reflux (heart burn)?
Many researchers studied the prevalence of heartburn among the US population.
A research conducted on 446 hospitalized and 558 non-hospitalized people. It included 385 people as control subjects.
Out of which 7% experienced heartburn daily. 14% had heartburn weekly. 15% experienced it once a month, giving a total of 36% of subjects having heartburn at least monthly.
“Heartburn or acid reflux is a common condition.”
How to get relief from Heart Burn?
Getting relief from heartburn becomes essential for returning to a healthy life. Lifestyle changes and medications have become the mainstay treatments for this problem.
Lifestyle modification sounds easy. But sometimes it can be difficult.
But if you start today and follow up then slowly but steadily you will be successful. This will change your life forever and for the better. You will have a hurt burn-free life and comfortable sleep.
This won’t be a problem for someone focused, hard-willed person, like you. But there are some people for whom lifestyle modifications are a real challenge.
This is also one of the reasons Doctors prescribe medications along with it. Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) like Omeprazole, and Rabeprazole are the drug of choice for GERD.
Do you need that medication or not depends on the severity of the symptoms. Your Doctor will be the best person to comment on that topic. But, you would also want to take a step toward a healthy lifestyle. It’s never too late to start.
Lifestyle Modifications for Heart Burn
Lifestyle modifications are very important but some of them are easier said than done.
By giving up some bad habits and following a proper routine, you will get relief from heartburn caused. You will also achieve good sleep hygiene. Both of them will help you sleep with comfort and make you a healthy person.
But there is more to it. Are you confused? Don’t be. All I am saying is that there are more to lifestyle modification. See there is a concept of “get the low-hanging food first.”
What does that mean?
Start with an easier job and finish it. Soon it will show a result. Now with the success, you will be more confident. With this renewed confidence you will succeed in changing the other not so good habits.
We also talk about some easy lifestyle modifications below in this article. But, let us first concentrate on sleep.
Heart Burn and Sleep
We spent 1/3 rd of our daily time sleeping. It does not matter if heartburn is ruining your sleep or not. Even if it is not interrupting your sleep. Good sleep practices can prevent heartburn throughout the day.
You can achieve this by this two modifications.
- Good sleep hygiene.
- Correct Sleeping Position and posture
These are not myths but are based on facts backed by scientific research.
4 changes in sleeping position and sleep habits can give relief from acid reflux at night.
Four changes at a minimum, you should try out, if you are suffering from heartburn.
- Elevation of the head of the bed (HOB)
- Left lateral Decubitus sleeping position. (left side sleeping position).
- Avoid late heavy meal.
- Avoiding recumbency for 3 hours postprandially. (Don’t lie down for 3 hrs after having food)
The American College of Gastroenterology for lifestyle changes have included first three out of four recommendations.
Elevation of the head and the upper part of your body
Stomach contents with acids are more likely to go back into the esophagus if you sleep flat on your back. The idea is to not let the reflux occur by positioning your head and the thorax region(chest) in an inclined manner. This will help those acids follow their normal path, towards your intestines.
Let’s check some scientific studies which take this basic idea and has tested on the patients with GERD.
Now we will see what 4 different medical research suggests. They were conducted at different places and by different people.
A research study was conducted with 63 individuals Heartburnurn and sleeping position. Patients who slept with an elevated Head-of-bed (using 28-cm blocks) had significantly fewer reflux episodes. The patients experienced shorter reflux episodes. Along with faster acid clearing, and fewer reflux symptoms.
Another research paper suggests that Head-of-bed elevation will be effective for improving pH. It will also help as well as GERD symptoms. But they also suggest that they don’t advice this to all but to those who are facing nocturnal heartburn.
A randomized study compared the effect of gastroesophageal reflux and 3 sleeping positions.
The sleeping positions are
- Elevation of the head of the bed on standard eight-inch bed blocks.
- Elevation by a foam wedge.
- A flat position.
They had studied 15 individuals with a moderate degree of reflux. The author suggested no difference in frequency in heartburn episodes. But, the wedge cause statistically significant decrease in distal esophageal ph. He concluded both elevations by a wedge and on blocks can decrease the clearance time as compared to the flat position.
Another study compared, the effect of sleeping with the bed-head raised position with reflux symptoms for 2 weeks.
All the patients underwent an endoscopy and Ph-metry examination.
They made three groups and supplemented them with different medications.
Medications like omeprazole(PPI), Cisapride (Prokinetic drug) which increases the upper gastrointestinal motility were given.
The last group got no drugs except antacids.
Head elevated positions were the choices given to them. They could sleep with a horizontal bedhead or have the bedhead raised (15 cm).
Researchers concluded elevation of the head to be an effective measure to improve the symptoms.
All the above 4 research conducted shows that Elevated head position will help in acid reflux at night. You can elevate your head with the help of a wedge pillow or an adjustable bed.
“Elevated head and upper body with the help of pillows, wedge pillow or an adjustable bed, will help you get relief from Acid Reflux at Night.”
Left side Sleeping Position
The exact reasons for sleeping on the left side helps giving relief in heartburn is not known. But there are some theories that come forward.
These theories were made because patients with reflux disease have experienced relief. One of the ideas is on the anatomical location and the act of gravitation and another one is the better preference.
Let’s us take a look at the other ideas.
Your left side creates a sharper angle. It preventing the stomach acids from escaping back into your esophagus. This way it prevents the burning pain sensation which you refer to as heartburn.
The other finding was that right-side sleeping had a longer esophageal clearance than the left side sleeping.
Do you want to see what the researchers conclude?
Continue reading below.
A study was conducted with 87 gastroenterologists and 20 normal people as subjects. Their aim was to find out which sleeping position will provide better relief (left or right), 4 hrs after having a heavy fat meal.
The researcher’s concluded that people sleeping on the right side had greater episodes of reflux.
The study reaffirms the findings and suggests that the increased esophageal acid exposure in the right recumbent (right side sleeping position) relative to the left recumbent position (left side sleeping position) is the result of a higher incidence of GERD episodes.
A study done revealed that right lateral decubitus (right side sleeping position) was associated with longer esophageal acid clearance when compared to the left, supine (lying on back), and prone (lying on stomach).
We can now reach a conclusion depending on these studies.
“Sleep on your Left side to get relief from Acid Reflux at night.”
There are several studies which suggest that acid reflux at night after eating is common with persons suffering from GERD. They also suggest that avoiding late night heavy meals will be better.
Late evening meals close to bedtime should be avoided. Food takes time to digest. If you sleep within that period the semi-digested foods will regurgitate and cause heartburn.
“Avoid late evening meals and get relief from acid reflux.”
Introducing these small changes into your lifestyle you have better chances to get relief from heartburn. These are easily achievable and what I consider as “low hanging fruits”.
If you are a back sleeper and don’t want to change your sleeping position, then just use a wedge pillow. You can also try sleeping on the left side.
Along with sleeping position, there are other easy and simple tips that will help you get relief from acid reflux during the nighttime.
10 Easy and Simple Tips for Relief from acid reflux at night.
1. Baking soda
You already have a remedy for acid reflux in your kitchen. Mix baking Soda (1/2) teaspoon in half cup of water. It will neutralize the stomach acids temporarily.
Baking soda for acid reflux is in use for centuries. Its chemical name is Sodium Bicarbonate. It is used medically for many conditions.
Sodium bicarbonate is widely available. You can use it in the form of powder, or tablets. Use proper dosage. You can check the dosage in the picture.
If you are using baking soda for relief from acid reflux at night. Then read this article from Pub MED.
While using baking soda just remember these 3 important things.
• Never take baking soda with milk.
• Don’t take it for more than 2 weeks.
• If you are experiencing symptoms of appendicitis, then avoid it.
2. Try Ginger Root
Ginger root is used in the kitchen as a rich spice. I like using ginger while cooking my favorite recipes. But did you know about the medicinal value of ginger root?
Ginger as we know it is the root of the plant. It increases the motility of your gastrointestinal system. By doing that, ginger root treats acid reflux and dyspepsia.
It is not just an age-old tradition. Medical studies had been conducted to check the validity.
You can consume ginger roots for acid reflux remedy in many ways.
• Grate or slice ginger root and add to your recipes.
• Make Ginger tea.
You can also take Ginger root supplements. Click this Link that will take you to amazon.
3. Take licorice supplements
Licorice root (Glycyrrhizin glabra), is used as the herbal treatment to reduce stomach inflammation. It inhibits prostaglandin synthesis and lipoxygenase.
Glycyrrhizin has mineralocorticoid properties.
So, deglycyrrhizinated form of licorice is recommended. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) glycyrrhizin does not have side effects of hyperkalemia, hypertension, and sodium retention.
If you intend to use it then consult with your doctor first.
4. Sip Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is also used to treat acid reflux. It is simple to make.
Add the following and stir properly.
• Take 2 teaspoons of raw and organic apple cider vinegar
• Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon baking soda (sodium bicarbonate).
• Add water
To get relief from acid reflux at night, drink it half an hour before going to bed.
A hormone that regulates the day-night cycle. Melatonin also regulates GI motility. There are many medical research papers that studied melatonin’s effect on GERD patients.
One such study on 36 people suggests that Melatonin is a useful treatment for patients suffering from heartburn.
6. Wear loose clothes.
Tight clothes will put pressure on your stomach. They can obstruct your lower esophageal sphincter. This will promote acid reflux.
While you go to sleep avoid wearing tight belts, waistbands. Put on a loose comfortable nightdress.
7. Stress-free living.
Stress is one of the important root cause of all diseases. Stress may increase the secretion of stomach acids.
Medical research on 6,834 persons was conducted to find out an association between psychological stress and acid reflux. Researchers concluded high association between Stress and Acid reflux.
It is important to control stress for your overall health.
When you go to sleep, avoid too much thinking. When you think too much, negative thoughts will come.
Practice better sleep hygiene and use comfortable pillows, mattress to fall asleep quickly.
I suggest you read our article on SLEEP HYGIENE. It has 28 easy tips that will improve your sleep quality.
8. Lose weight.
Lose weight is a healthy practice. Overweight, obesity is closely associated with acid reflux. Excess weight increases the chance of stomach acid to go back to the esophagus.
A study was conducted on 46 obese individuals. They were checked for acid reflux the researchers found a positive correlation.
So, try losing weight. I know it’s long-term goal. But set smaller targets. Don’t rush but follow a proper routine. Even exercise will help you get proper sleep.
For motivation, I will include this research study done on 332 individuals at University of Kansas Medical Centre. They found that a weight loss program can completely resolve Acid reflux problems in the majority of their studied people.
9. Chew gums
Chewing gums at night. I personally am not fond of this solution. Because while chewing gums, my mouth starts to ache.
But chewing gums can help. They will secrete saliva in your mouth. The saliva will neutralize your stomach acids.
10. Exercise-induced acid reflux.
It has been noticed that some people experience severe heartburn after exercise. If you are one of them, Drink plenty of water. Proper hydration will help in this case.
11 Foods and habits to Avoid to get Relief from Acid Reflux at night.
1. Dairy products
Dairy products contain fat. Fat will induce acid secretion. If you are fond of milk. Then drink fully skimmed milk (containing minimum fat).
It is a good laxative. But it causes acid reflux. I know some people, who have a habit of drinking coffee before bed. So, asked them but never got a satisfactory answer. Which puzzled me.
Since Bedtime tea is common.
But, bedtime coffee?
It induces acid secretion. So, I recommended them to avoid that. Incidentally One of them started following my advice since acid reflux was interfering with his sleep.
After weeks of avoiding bedtime coffee, he is fine.
3. Fried food.
Avoid taking fried food as bedtime snacks. Fried foods will induce acid secretion. They are not easily digested. These are also not good for your health. If you are suffering from acid reflux at night then avoiding them will be better.
4. Hot and spicy food
Are you fond of spicy foods and also experiencing heartburn? Hot and spicy food induces acid secretion. So, avoid them so that you can avoid acid reflux at night and have a good sleep.
5. Limit Acidic food.
These foods and fruits are good in taste. They are often used in recipes. If you are suffering from Acid reflux at night. It’s better to limit their usage.
Grapefruits, tomato, vinegar, and oranges are some of the acidic foods and fruits.
Alcohol induces gastric acid secretion. It makes you dehydrated. It interferes with your sleep. Avoid alcohol for better sleep. Leave alcohol to get relief from acid reflux at night and in general.
It is hard to digest. Meat with lower fat content creates less acid. Fish, lean chicken and turkey have lower fat content. Red meat like stake requires more acid in the stomach.
I am not asking you to abstain from eating meat. But you can limit meat intake. Try taking meat 2-3 times weekly.
Chew well before swallowing. You can use plenty of raw fruits and veggies in your diet. That will also help you in many ways.
8. Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated drinks increase pressure levels in the stomach. This will increase the acid reflux. Try to avoid drinking Cola, soda pop, tonic water. You can try drinking more purified water. But not too cold.
9. Cut back of Acid reflux triggers.
All of us have our favorite food choices. But sometimes, we have to make a tough decision. Sleeping is important to our health. So if acid reflux interrupts your sleep. Then it will be wise to avoid them. Chocolates, mustard can trigger acid reflux. Avoid them and help your stomach. This will keep away acid reflux at night.
“Avoid acid reflux triggers and sleep well.”
10. Avoid Smoking.
Smoking is harmful to health. It’s a bad habit. Smoking induces heartburn. It interferes with your sleep. Smoking before going to bed will keep you awake and will “cause acid reflux at night.
“STOP SMOKING. And have a healthy life and comfortable sleep.”
11. Avoid sleeping immediately after food
Food takes several hours to clear the stomach. Eating within three hours of bedtime increases the risk of reflux symptoms.
“Weight for 3 hours after a meal and then go to sleep.”
To read in detail Read our post on Foods to avoid for Acid Reflux remedy.
If acid reflux is troubling you in your sleep or at any time, my sympathies with you. I know how it feels. It is hard to sleep with a burning sensation in the upper abdomen. I had experienced heartburn in past.
I have searched many research papers, consulted doctors, and searched textbooks. Whatever information I acquired, I have shared with you.
Tell us which step you will take today to get relief. Will you make changes in your sleeping position? Or Will you use one of the Tips?
I want to tell you that you are not alone. Simply Comfortable Sleep is with you, In your fight against Acid reflux.
“Thank You for reading the article. I wish for your good health. If you like this article Please Share it with your friends, family members, and loved ones. We will be grateful and highly motivated by Your Generosity. “