5 Ways to Prevent Nighttime Heartburn

09. 27. 2017

There are few ailments in life that can’t be improved with a good night’s rest. Research finds that getting your Zs can improve memory, promote healthy weight and even reduce the risk of stroke, diabetes, cancer and the common cold. Heartburn, however, may be the one exception to the rule.

Getting adequate rest has been shown to reduce the occurrence of heartburn overall, but many people find that going to bed can actually trigger their acid reflux symptoms. According to the American Gastroenterological Association, of the 25 million people who experience daily heartburn, at least half of them also suffer from nighttime symptoms.

Heartburn occurs when digestive acids manage to escape through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the ring of muscle that closes off the stomach from the esophagus. As these digestive acids pass through the LES into the esophagus, they irritate the sensitive esophageal lining and cause that burning sensation behind the breastbone known as heartburn.

The reason why heartburn symptoms often flare at nighttime is a simple matter of gravity. When you’re seated or standing throughout the day, gravity works in your favor by encouraging digestive acids to remain in the stomach. But when you lounge on the couch in the evenings or lie down flat in your bed, digestive acids can easily flow into the esophagus and cause irritation.

The good news is that nighttime heartburn can be easily managed by making some simple changes to your nighttime routine.

Raise the head of your bed with six-inch blocks or elevate your upper body by sleeping with a wedge-shaped pillow. This will make it more difficult for digestive acids to flow into the esophagus.

Sleep on your left side instead of your right. Research has shown that sleeping on the left side helps to reduce nighttime heartburn.

Avoid late-night snacking. Giving food at least two hours to digest before bedtime will help prevent reflux.

Wear loose fitting pajamas. Avoid sleepwear with elastic waistbands or snug drawstrings, as these place pressure on the midsection and encourage heartburn.

Set a sleep schedule. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night to function at their best. Getting adequate rest each night can lower your chances of experiencing heartburn and will improve your health overall.

Related articles:

Sleep Positions That Can Aggravate or Alleviate Heartburn
GERD and Barrett’s Esophagus Linked to Sleep Disturbances

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