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Does Gerd Cause Sleep Problems

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Common Sleep Disorders In Children And How To Identify Them

Easy Solutions for Sleeping Problems and Insomnia, Acid Reflux, Bloating and Gas

We all know that a restful sleep is an essential part of a growing childs development, but around two out of every three children will experience a sleep disorder before the age of 13 according to a National Sleep Foundation poll. Most will experience common nighttime disruptions, such as nightmares or infrequent insomnia, but some will suffer from more serious sleep disorders.

Poor Quality Sleep Affects Your Quality Of Life

People who have nighttime GERD symptoms tend to have a poorer quality of life than those who have daytime symptoms only. Frequent awakenings due to chest and throat pain means less quality sleep and leads to daytime fatigue.

If youre tired, your performance at work may suffer. You also risk injury while operating machinery or vehicles.

GERD has also been linked to obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in your breathing that awaken you during slumber. GERD may cause your airway to become inflamed or blocked, so its hard to breathe normally. This causes you to awaken when you arent getting enough oxygen to the brain.

When To Seek Additional Help

Often sleep disturbances can be alleviated or prevented with some simple changes. In cases where lifestyle changes dont help your nighttime symptoms though, its important to consult your doctor about further treatment options. For severe cases of acid reflux, treatment options can range from taking medication to even receiving special surgery.

If you find that youre struggling to sleep even beyond your acid reflux symptoms, its possible an undiagnosed sleep disorder is to blame. If you think disorders like obstructive sleep apnea or insomnia are contributing to your poor sleep quality, be sure to consult your doctor or a sleep expert. They can provide a diagnosis and help you find the treatment options that work best for you.

To find accredited sleep experts in your area, check out this tool provided by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Acid reflux symptoms can really ruin your night and make it impossible to get a good nights sleep. Thankfully though, there are easy and holistic lifestyle changes you can make to ensure reflux is a thing of the past. Give them a try and see how you feel!

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD, FAASM

The Sleep Doctor

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The Autonomic And Enteric Nervous Systems

The connection between the brain and the gastrointestinal system is imperative to the regulation of the digestive tract and maintenance of the gut immune system. The gut-brain axis works through mechanisms that involve immune activation, intestinal permeability, and enteroendocrine signaling. This bidirectional network involves the central nervous system , autonomic nervous system, and enteric nervous system . The network incorporates sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, which drive afferent signals through enteric and vagal pathways to the CNS and efferent signals from the CNS to the intestine. There are neural and hormonal influences that allow the brain to modulate the activity of intestinal cells such as interstitial cells of Cajal, enterochromaffin cells, and smooth muscle cells. This dynamic relationship between the brain and the gastrointestinal system involves feedback loops, which also influence the circadian rhythm and sleep regulation pathways. This suggests that there is a relationship between sleep disturbances and physiologic changes of the gastrointestinal tract.

Interplay between sleep dysfunction and gastroesophageal reflux disease .

What Is Sleep Apnea

Laryngopharyngeal reflux and sleep problems

Sleep apnea isnt just a lack of sleep or poor sleep. Its much more complicated than that. Obstructive sleep apnea happens when a persons airway closes up and stop breathing for 10 seconds, several times an hour during sleep. This occurrence prevents deep sleep, leading to a wide variety of health problems. Sleep apnea can lead to health issues such as stroke, diabetes, and heart attack.

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How Can I Digest Food At Night

Your digestion continues even at night and during sleep. The trick is to help ease the process. Here are some things you can do to accelerate and ease the process:

  • Drink plenty of water, at least 64 ounces daily.
  • Consume fresh, unprocessed foods.
  • Eat slowly, chew your food, and relax while you eat.
  • Dont overeat.
  • At night, keep meals small.

Gastroesophageal Reflux And Sleep Disturbances: A Bidirectional Association In A Population

This was not an industry supported study. Funding was provided by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, and the Swedish Research Council . The HUNT study is performed through collaboration between HUNT Research Centre , Nord-Trøndelag County Council, and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The authors have indicated no financial conflicts of interest.


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What Do I Do If I Think I Have Gerd

With GERD when reflux and heartburn happen more than once in a while the tissue lining your esophagus is getting battered regularly with stomach acid. Eventually the tissue becomes damaged. If you have this chronic acid reflux and heartburn you can see its affecting your daily eating and sleeping habits.

When GERD makes your daily life uncomfortable in this way, call your healthcare provider. Although GERD isnt life-threatening in itself, its chronic inflammation of the esophagus can lead to something more serious. You may need stronger prescription medications or even surgery to ease your symptoms.

What Treatments Are Available For Gerd

Sleep Apnea and Acid Reflux

For some people, over-the counter antacids that neutralize stomach acid may be enough to ease the burn of GERD. Two other types of drugs, H2 receptor blockers and proton pump inhibitors are also available in over-the-counter varieties, though more serious GERD cases may require prescription-strength versions. They both reduce acid production, but PPIs can also help heal damaged esophageal tissue.

Avoiding trigger foods and drinks is also advised, even if youre taking medications. You should also avoid lying down too soon after eating. Elevating the head of the bed can help. Tight clothes may make symptoms of GERD worse, so you should try to avoid them as well. GERD is more likely if youre obese, so maintaining a healthy weight may help. You should also quit smoking, as it can harm your esophagus and all your organs.

If GERD is the cause of your fatigue, then successful heartburn management may translate to better sleep and less fatigue.

If there isnt an obvious cause of your fatigue, talk with your doctor about ways you can try to get your energy back, whether its through more exercise, dietary changes, or other lifestyle modifications.

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Tips For Sleeping With Gerd

It may seem impossible to get a good nights sleep when you suffer from acid reflux or GERD, but theres hope yet. Here are some helpful tips to get you through the night:

Sleep with your head elevated. Sleeping with the head of your bed elevated 6-8 inches will help prevent stomach acid from flowing back up your esophagus. Try using an extra pillow or two, a wedge pillow, or try out a bed that has an electronically-powered adjustable head.

Dont sleep on your back. Sleeping on your back, especially when youre overweight, can put pressure on the stomach and can cause acid to flow back up into your esophagus. Obviously, you cant control what position youre in while you sleep just try to be mindful of your position when you are awake. If you keep finding yourself on your side, try putting pillows on either side of you to remind you not to roll over.

Sleep on your left side. Sleeping on your left side has been scientifically proven to reduce symptoms of acid reflux. Sleeping on your right side can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, allowing the backflow of acidic stomach contents back into the esophagus and therefore, heartburn.

Lose weight. Obesity or being overweight is one of the biggest risk factors for acid reflux and GERD. By losing weight and staying active, you are not only reducing your chances of developing GERD, but youre also taking steps to actively manage your symptoms.

The Bottom Line

What Happens To Your Digestive System During Sleep

Even when youre asleep, your digestive system continues to work. However, it does get to slow down quite a bit because when youre unconscious, youre not eating or drinking.

During this time, the tissues in this area also grow, repair, and rebuild themselves. The digestive system uses the glucose consumed during the day to fuel these processes.

However, if youve eaten a large meal immediately before going to bed, youre not giving the digestive system adequate time to rest, and your digestion continues while youre asleep. As a result, you may wake up with heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, or other unpleasant, sleep-disrupting symptoms.

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The Physiology Of Sleep

Sleep is a state characterized by changes in the level of consciousness, unresponsiveness to the surrounding environment, and inactivity of voluntary muscles. Sleep restores people physically and psychologically. Sleep is divided by polysomnographic criteria into rapid eye movement sleep and non-rapid eye movement sleep. NREM sleep constitutes approximately 75% to 80% of total sleep time, whereas REM sleep accounts for the remaining 20% to 25% of total sleep time. REM sleep is associated with dreaming, learning, and memory consolidation.

The sleep-wake system is regulated by 2 processes that create the circadian rhythm of sleep and wakefulness: one that promotes sleep and one that maintains wakefulness . These processes are used to predict the timing and duration of sleep. Process S, the homeostatic sleep drive, builds with sustained wakefulness and peaks before bedtime as the need for sleep increases. Additionally, process S is involved in inhibiting neuronal communication in the hypothalamus, which turns off arousal mechanisms during sleep. Disorders that affect process S promote insomnia. Clock-dependent alertness, known as process C, is responsible for promoting alertness, physical activity, muscle tone, and hormone secretion. Process C promotes wakefulness.

Pathophysiological Evidence For A Causal Link Between Gerd And Sleep Disturbance

Does GERD Cause Noisy Breathing During Sleep? » Scary Symptoms

There is considerable evidence to indicate that GERD can be affected by abnormal sleep physiology. Conversely, it is also possible that disturbed sleep enhances perception of intra-esophageal reflux events. However, few studies have been conducted and these have shown inconsistent results .

Possible pathophysiology of sleep disturbance and gastroesophageal reflux disease .

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Tips For Better Sleep With Thyroid Issues

People with thyroid disease who experience sleep loss or disturbances may find relief by taking certain measures.

For many, finding the right bedroom temperature is key. Many experts agree that 65 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal sleep temperature for most people. However, those with thyroid disease may feel differently, as hyperthyroidism can cause night sweats and hypothyroidism can decrease your tolerance to the cold. The range of 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit is considered reasonable, and you may find your preferred temperature falls outside this range if you live with thyroid disease.

Practicing good sleep hygiene can also improve your sleep quality whether or not you have a thyroid condition. Sleep hygiene refers to practices and habits that promote consistent, uninterrupted and restorative sleep. These include going to bed and waking up at the same times , avoiding electronic devices for up to an hour before bed, and winding down in the evening with soft music, light stretching, and other relaxing activities.

A healthy diet is also crucial for sleep hygiene. Heavy meals leading up to bedtime can be disruptive to sleep, so its better to opt for light snacks instead. People with thyroid issues should pay particular attention to their iodine intake, as too much or too little iodine in ones diet can affect thyroid activity. You may also want to avoid caffeine and alcohol in the hours before bed, as both of these substances can disrupt sleep.

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Is There Surgery To Treat Gerd

GERD is usually controlled with medications and lifestyle changes . If these dont work, or if you cant take medications for an extended period, surgery may be a solution.

  • Laparoscopic antireflux surgery is the standard surgical treatment. Its a minimally invasive procedure that fixes your acid reflux by creating a new valve mechanism at the bottom of your esophagus. The surgeon wraps the upper part of the stomach around the lower portion of the esophagus. This reinforces the lower esophageal sphincter so food wont reflux back into the esophagus.
  • LINX deviceimplantation is another minimally invasive surgery. A LINX device is a ring of tiny magnets that are strong enough to keep the junction between the stomach and esophagus closed to refluxing acid but weak enough to allow food to pass through.

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Colorectal Cancer And Sleep

There has been recent research to support an increase in risk for colon cancer with changes in sleep. Both decreased sleep duration and increased sleep duration have been associated with colorectal cancer in recent studies. There have been many proposed mechanisms for the potential increased risk. Release of inflammatory cytokines in patients with sleep changes can potentially set the stage for the development of colorectal cancer. Additionally, both shorter sleep duration and longer sleep duration have been associated with obesity, which is an independent risk factor for colorectal cancer.,

Zhang and colleagues found that men who slept more than 9 hours per night had an increased risk of colorectal cancer compared with those who slept 7 hours per night. This risk was increased if a patient was overweight with a BMI greater than 25 or was a regular snorer. However, the findings for women in this study were not statistically significant. Having a longer sleep duration increases cortisol secretion along with insulin resistance, resulting in obesity, which is an independent risk factor for colorectal cancer. Moreover, a longer sleep duration leads to increased proinflammatory cytokine release, specifically of IL-1 and TNF, which play a role in new tumor growth. Snoring results in intermittent hypoxia, which can also promote tumor growth.

What Causes Nighttime Bowel Movements

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A digestive system thats not operating properly can lead to a nighttime bowel movement. The conditions discussed thus far dont typically cease to exist just because you close your eyes at night. While a normal digestive system would slow down and work on restoration while you sleep, a troubled one may continue to churn, making it likely that youll have to get up in the middle of the night.

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How Is Gerd Diagnosed

Usually your provider can tell if you have simple acid reflux by talking with you about your symptoms and medical history. You and your provider can talk about controlling your symptoms through diet and medications.

If these strategies dont help, your provider may ask you to get tested for GERD. Tests for GERD include:

How To Prevent Complications From Acid Reflux

You may be able to reduce acid reflux and prevent complications by adopting the following habits:

  • Avoid certain foods. Greasy, fatty, acidic, and spicy foods are more likely to lead to reflux. Other foods, such as peppermint, tomato sauce, garlic, onions, citrus, and dark chocolate are also known to trigger reflux.
  • Change your eating habits. Try to eat meals at least 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed or lie down. This will give your stomach time to digest the food youve eaten. Also, eating smaller portions and chewing slowly may help prevent excess reflux.
  • Lose excess weight. Carrying excess weight around your middle can push your stomach upward, making it easier for acid to rise into your esophagus.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine. Both alcohol and caffeine can increase acid reflux.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking makes it more difficult for the sphincter that separates your esophagus from your stomach to close properly after food enters your stomach.
  • Sleep on an incline. If acid reflux and heartburn strike at night, place some blocks under the head of your bed so that your upper body is slightly higher than your stomach. You can also look into special wedge pillows that are made for people with GERD.
  • Wear looser clothing. Tight-fitting pants can put additional pressure on your abdomen, forcing the contents of your stomach upward.

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Maintain Healthy Weight To Reduce Sleep Apnea And Gerd Symptoms

Your chances of having sleep apnea and GERD are much higher if you are overweight or obese. Losing weight can remove excess pressure from your stomach and diaphragm, which can reduce symptoms of GERD or sleep apnea.

A healthy, balanced diet is an excellent way to keep yourself at a healthy weight, and keep your symptoms under control. Make sure to avoid large meals too soon before bed. Its helpful to stop eating around 2-3 hours before going to bed. Also avoid foods that can potentially trigger heartburn, like:

  • Greasy, fatty, or fried foods
  • Alcohol or caffeine

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Check Your Sleep Position

How to Prevent Nighttime Acid Reflux

Avoid sleeping on your stomach. It compresses the organs of your digestive system. The best position is on your back with your head propped up by a wedge pillow. Alternatively, sleeping on your left side can increase blood flow and aid in digestion.

View Our Guide: How to Properly Sleep On Your Back

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What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing during the night. You may wake up feeling like youre choking or cant breathe. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused when the muscles of the throat relax during sleep. When these muscles are too relaxed, they will actually close the throat and block your airway. Your brain will realize youre not breathing and wake you up to tighten the muscles and restart the flow of air. You may wake up many times during the night, but not remember having woken up.

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