Right Side: Its Not Right For Acid Reflux
Position #2 to avoid at night issleeping flat on your right side. When lying flat 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 in nature4 leading to regurgitation, coughing, and choking, which can be very scary 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 longer5 so stay off your right side.
So, back sleeping is bad. Right side sleeping is bad. Whats a GERD sufferer to do?
Do’s & Don’ts: The Best Way To Sleep With Acid Reflux
Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux or GERD, is estimated to affect 20% of adults in the United States. Acid Reflux is more than just uncomfortable. In fact, it isnt unusual for sufferers to experience the inability to fall asleep, horrible burning sensations, choking in their sleep from acid reflux, and other truly terrible symptoms. You need long, deep sleep in order to be healthy and happy. If your Acid Reflux is stopping you from achieving this, now is the time to finally put an end to it. Make today the day you take your life back and banish sleepless nights!
It happens when stomach acid moves up from the stomach and into the esophagus. Normally, muscles at the bottom of the esophagus act as a barrier to prevent this from happening. However, sometimes the muscles are weak or relaxed and dont close all the way. This is when the problem occurs. Nearly all of us experience reflux from time to time; it is mild, infrequent, and goes away quickly on its own. For some people, unfortunately, Acid Reflux happens at least once per week and often involves severe and bothersome symptoms that affect their daily life.
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.
Bed Wedge Pillow By Xtra
If the size of the pillow is important to you, then another great option is the wedge pillow by Xtra Comfort. What makes this pillow stand apart from the rest is the incredible 12 inches of elevation. Yes, the adjustable loft of this pillow can be increased up to 12 inches, so you can remain supported and inclined for a number of different purposes, from sleeping to reading to working. Besides the torso, the legs can also be elevated using this pillow, and the high elevation is useful if you have a fracture or sprain.
This folding pillow is made from dense memory foam, has a firmer feel than most other wedge pillows, and also offers more control because of the 3 in 1 design. The clever design of the pillow makes it useful for both the back and the rest of the body. The soft, microplush cover can be removed for washing, and the zipper keeps it snug and secure. There is also a handle on the cover, which can also be used for easy storage and portability. Because the pillow is large, the handle is useful. However, some users have said that the pillow is a little too firm and takes a little time to get used to.
Does Lying On Stomach Help Reflux
Finding a peaceful position to sleep in can be a tough one for acid reflux sufferers. Because lying down prevents gravity from doing its job keeping the food contents back down, patients feel anxious about falling asleep. Sleep deprivation becomes a problem among acid reflux sufferers in fear of choking or asphyxiation while asleep.
Lying down alone can trigger acid reflux effects, but it gets worse with certain positions. Lying flat on your stomach produces the same result as lying on your back, if not worse.
When youre lying flat on the bed, your stomach and esophagus are on the same level, making it easy for stomach contents to find their way into the esophagus. When youre standing up or sitting down, youre allowing gravity to move these digested bits throughout the rest of your stomach.
Lying on your stomach also tends to put pressure on your stomach. This alone could push the stomach contents to travel upwards and cause heartburn.
The next time you want to lie on your stomach, make sure your head is elevated. Support your neck with a pillow and keep it a few inches higher than your stomach. Otherwise, youre asking for a bad reflux episode.
Xtreme Comforts 7 Memory Foam Bed Wedge Pillow
The Xtreme Comforts Memory Foam Bed Wedge Pillow is made by layering two solid wedges, which make the sleeping surface soft and comfortable while accommodating both side and back sleepers. The sleeping position offered by this pillow not only allows the head and the neck to sink into the surface for better support and spinal alignment but also keeps the body inclined at a 30-degree angle. This helps reduce symptoms of acid reflux, sleep apnea and snoring.
The pillow has a plush bamboo cover that facilitates not only excellent airflow but also provides maximum comfort to the sleeper. The pillow can be used to support other parts of the body, such as the back, the legs, and the knees. However, even though the pillow is mostly a great product for back and side sleepers that suffer from acid reflux, some users have complained about off-gassing and the pillow being too firm.
Side Sleeping: What Side To Sleep On With Acid Reflux
A good nights rest can be the difference between a day of inspiring productivity and a day of extra coffee and feeling sluggish. Many Americans, however, are suffering from sleep deprivation for reasons they may not expect. Acid Reflux and GERD affect more people than you might expect, and many sufferers of nighttime heartburn and stomach discomfort find themselves researching best sleeping position and side sleeping to reduce acid reflux symptoms. In this guide, we will explore how acid reflux and GERD sufferers can get a better nights sleep by sleeping on their side and which side will provide the most relief.
How To Sleep With Acid Reflux And Heartburn
July 22, 20207 min read
Many people dont realize that the position you sleep in can directly affect your acid reflux symptoms at night. Anatomy and gravity play a significant role in heartburn symptom frequency, length, and severity, so learning how to sleep with acid reflux can offer up substantial relief.
In this post, well discuss the relationship between sleep and reflux symptoms, show you how to sleep with acid reflux, and share some tips for optimal sleeping with heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD. To navigate throughout the article, click on one of the links below, or read through for a comprehensive overview.
Avoid The Usual Suspects Especially At The End Of The Day
Your last meal should be at least three to four hours before bedtime, and youll want to avoid: coffee, tea, chocolate, soda, greasy food, fried food, fatty food, spicy food, and alcohol.
Those are all things that I don’t believe actually cause reflux, but I believe are all triggers that set it off or make it worse, says Zalvan.
Inclined On The Left Side:
This is probably the best way to sleep. The compound left-side, inclined sleep position makes nighttime acid reflux nearly impossible since your esophagus is now well above your stomach contents, even when you have a full belly.
Plus, if you do reflux, gravity will return the contents quickly to your belly. Sleeping inclined on your left side decreases your GERD symptoms and provides protection from lengthy acid exposure to your throat, lungs, esophagus, and sinuses.
Do Certain Foods Cause Heartburn
Certain foods and drinks, such as fried foods, high-fat foods, soft drinks, and tea , increase your likelihood of experiencing heartburn. Eating meals late at night, no matter what theyre composed of, can also increase heartburn and negatively impact sleep as a result.
Drinks that tend to stimulate stomach acid production, such as coffee and alcohol, contribute to the onset of heartburn . Coffee itself may also affect sleep quality. Although it might feel like alcohol helps you fall asleep, alcohol can cause frequent night wakings which disrupt sleep.
Insomnia And Acid Reflux: A Double Whammy
Insomnia is a broad term used to describe a variety of sleeping problems. In essence, a person has insomnia if he/she is either unable to fall asleep or remain asleep for sufficient periods of time to awake refreshed. Acid Reflux adversely affects sleep quality by awakening the patient from sleep during the night. While insomnia and acid reflux are two different medical problems, they often co-exist together to throw in a double whammy.
Studies have found a significant association between disturbed sleep and GERD, and this may be bidirectional. Sleep disturbances induce gastrointestinal distress, while at the same time GI symptoms only worsen sleep patterns. According to research done by Mayo Clinic College of Medicine Nighttime reflux can lead to sleep disturbance and sleep disturbance may further aggravate GERD by prolonged acid contact time and heightened sensory perception. This may facilitate the occurrence of complicated GERD and decreased quality of life. The interplay between sleep problems and GERD is complex.
Many patients with GERD experience sleep fragmentation. Whats worse, sleep deprivation can adversely affect GERD severity by enhancing the perception of acid in the esophagus causing esophageal hypersensitivity, and potentially by increasing esophageal acid exposure time. In a nutshell Heartburn makes it difficult to sleep, inadvertently causing insomnia. You can remedy this by addressing the heartburn, not the insomnia.
How Does Reflux Affect Sleep
Acid reflux symptoms often disrupt sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Stomach acid rises up the esophagus, causing heartburn and inflammation. This can also lead to coughing, choking, and discomfort when swallowing. These symptoms can cause people to wake up throughout the night.
Those who suffer from acid reflux may also experience sleep apnea. The relationship between the two is still being studied, but those who suffer from GERD are often more likely to have severe obstructive sleep apnea . OSA occurs when the throat muscles relax and obstruct the airway. This can result in snoring, gasping, and other sleep disruptions. Acid reflux affects the esophagus, and the combination can cause disturbances throughout the night.
Taking certain measures before bedtime can help alleviate the acid reflux symptoms that disrupt sleep. Avoiding meals close to bedtime can reduce the likelihood of stomach acid entering the esophagus. Sleepers can also adjust their sleeping position to prevent acid reflux, which well break down further in the next section.
It is important to discuss your symptoms with a doctor or medical professional to determine the best course of treatment. Acid reflux and GERD can develop into more severe complications, including stomach ulcers.
How Not To Sleep
Many studies show that sleeping on your right side can lead to heartburn. Though we arent exactly sure why, some have hypothesized that sleeping on the right side can relax the lower esophageal sphincter , which is the muscular valve that keeps stomach acid from entering the esophagus. Researchers have found significant increases in overall acid clearance and reflux time in studies of right-side sleeping. Stomach sleeping may also have similar effects.
Instead Sleep At An Incline
A simple boost in elevation can produce positive results when it comes to nighttime acid reflux. Studies have shown that sleeping at an incline decreases the frequency of reflux episodes and allows your body to clear reflux at a quicker rate5.
As long as your entire torso is elevated, the incline gives gravity a little encouragement in its effort to return reflux to your stomach.
Know Your Medication Side Effects
Certain medications may contribute to GERD. Some common ones include:
- anticholinergics, which treat, among other conditions, overactive bladder and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
- tricyclic antidepressants
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen
If these or other medications are causing acid reflux or other symptoms, tell your doctor. Alternative treatments may be available.
Try Skipping Your Nightcap
Researchers are still trying to determine the connection between GERD and alcohol, however, multiple studies have shown that alcohol, especially heavy drinking, can make symptoms worse. Alcohol has been shown to reduce lower esophageal sphincter pressure, which can increase the likelihood of reflux.
Since alcohol causes your esophageal sphincter to relax, avoid drinking a few hours before lying down to prevent nighttime acid reflux. Drinking in moderation , can also help manage symptoms.
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.
What Is A Wedge Pillow
A wedge pillow is an orthopedic, triangle-shaped pillow tapered on an incline. The shape is similar to a wedge of cheese, hence the name wedge pillow. These pillows comfortably lift the upper body to a 30 to 45-degree angle so gravity can keep acid down and prevent regurgitation. Wedge pillows can also open up the airways for those with obstructive sleep apnea. Plus, they can be used to elevate the legs to improve circulation and relieve pressure on the lumbar spine.
Although most wedge pillows serve a similar purpose, they can vary in terms of incline, size, weight, materials, shape, firmness level, temperature regulation, and price. Below, we outline the various types of wedge pillows available and why they may or may not be right for you.
Find The Right Sleeping Position
Now youre ready for bed! As you set up your ideal sleeping environment, this is where an adjustable bed frame will come in handy. Experts recommend elevating your head and torso about 6-8 inches to alleviate and avoid acid reflux symptoms.
Piling pillows behind your head can make the condition worse, as it places extra pressure on your esophagus. Using an adjustable bed frame is really the best option. Wedge pillows can also work.
How Are Gerd And Sleep Related
GERD is often cited as a cause of sleeping problems, including in the National Sleep Foundations 2001 Sleep in America Poll. In a more recent survey of people with frequent heartburn, nearly 60% said it affected their sleep, and more than 30% said it hurt their daytime functioning.
Flare ups of GERD symptoms after lying down can make it hard to fall asleep and can cause nighttime interruptions from heartburn, chest pain, and coughing. Studies in sleep clinics of people with GERD have found that these symptoms are correlated with lower sleep quality.
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.
- Tel: 293-3650
- Fax: 293-3650
How To Treat Acid Reflux To Get Better Sleep
It is understandable that you will be wondering how to sleep with acid reflux especially when your nights sleep is often disrupted by your stomach acid going back up your esophagus causing sleep disorders to appear such as apnea, insomnia, and the like. Here are a few treatments and remedies that can help you with your acid reflux sleep problems.
Consider These Supplements For Night Time Reflux Causing Insomnia
Since sleeping pills will only worsen your GERD symptoms in the long run, what can you take to help sleep peacefully? Some dietary supplements can provide relief from acid reflux and improve sleep quality at the same time. These dont come with undesirable side-effects and help symptoms of heartburn naturally.
Magnesium deficiency has been associated with acid reflux. Magnesium aids in the functioning of LES that works as a lid between the esophagus and the stomach to keep stomach contents from coming back up the esophagus. Magnesium is also vital for the function of GABA receptors, which are calming neurotransmitters that the brain requires to switch off and go to sleep. In simpler words magnesium supplements improve sleep quality and can also help with acid reflux. Try 200 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate twice a day, but be aware that excessive magnesium supplementation may result in diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramping for some people.
Melatonin has long been used as a sleep aid, but is also effective in inhibiting gastric acid secretion and seems to control the lower esophageal sphincter. Melatonin is naturally produced by pineal gland to regulate the wake/sleep cycle and other daily biorhythms. Low levels of melatonin can lead to insomnia as well as worsen GERD. Start with 500 mcg to 5 mg at night.
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.
Eat 3 Hours Before Bedtime
Some people believe the ideal time to eat an evening meal is 3 hours before going to bed. This gives the stomach time to digest the food properly. It moves into the small intestine and can prevent problems, such as heartburn.
Once a person lies down, the stomach contents can reflux into the esophagus, which can lead to heartburn or chest discomfort. Food intake prompts the body to release insulin, affecting a persons internal body clock and increasing wakefulness.
Medslant Acid Reflux Wedge Pillow
A common complaint about wedge pillows is that they are too small or too narrow and do not offer enough room the spread or move about without sliding off. Most wedge pillows are the same size as a regular pillow designed only for the head and neck. However, wedge pillows are also meant to support and incline the torso, which isnt possible if the size of the pillow is small. Even if a small wedge pillow is capable of providing the sleeper with enough inclination and support, its easy to slide off during the night because there is not enough room to move about.
This is where the MedSlant Wedge Pillow is a winner. Not only is this pillow longer than usual but is also 28 inches wide which is half the size of a queen bed. Although this pillow elevates the torso up to 7 inches, the gradual slope does not make the incline too steep. Whether you are a back sleeper side sleeper or a combination sleeper who likes to move about during the night, this wedge pillow fits a number of different requirements. Made from a soy, polyurethane foam, it has a cushion of memory foam but also with a firm foundation layer underneath, with zero off-gassing. The zippered cover made of microfiber is easy to take off and wash and allows more breathability and airflow to keep you cool in any season. The size of this pillow offers you to adjust your sleeping position better, and also makes this a more suitable option for all kinds of sleepers.
Digestion Benefits And Left
Many people believe that sleeping on the left side is the best option for digestion. However, whether a person chooses to sleep on their front, side, or back, it is imperative that they get themselves in the correct position, have supportive pillows, and a firm mattress.
- Gut health: There is no medical evidence to support that sleeping on one side is more beneficial than the other. However, the location of the stomach is a clue. The stomachs natural position is on the left side, where it can digest food more effectively. Gravity helps the waste travel from the small intestine to the large intestine.
- Help with heartburn: People who experience heartburn should sleep on their left side, as right-side sleeping relaxes connecting muscles between the stomach and the esophagus. When these muscles contract, they help control the acid reflux process. Research from the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology has shown a higher likelihood of acid reflux from sleeping on the right side.
The National Sleep Foundation have carried out polls since 1991 to identify peoples sleeping habits in the United States. In 2020, they highlighted that significant numbers of people in America feel sleepy about 3 days per week, which often impacts on their daily lives.
Do Certain Activities Cause Heartburn
High-impact sports, such as running, rowing, high intensity interval training, and powerlifting, as well as activities that are done while the body is inverted or flat, like swimming or yoga, can cause heartburn or make it worse . Heartburn is caused by a loosening of the lower esophageal muscle. Exercises that push the stomach or keep the body from being upright may contribute to heartburn and GERD.
Exercise is an important part of staying healthy. If you struggle with heartburn, opt for lower impact, upright activities, like walking, light jogging or easy cycling. If you prefer to engage in high-intensity workouts, it could help to adjust when you eat. Try to eat a few hours before your workout to prevent heartburn.