Heart Burn & Sleep
If you're one of the sixty million Americans who suffer from heartburn, attempting to sleep can be a nightmare. When you lie down, the stomach acid can creep its way into the esophagus - disrupting your nightly schedule. But you're not helpless: we've compiled some easy tips to help you manage your nighttime heartburn and reclaim your sleep.
The Danger of Nighttime Heartburn
There are dangerous repercussions if you ignore your symptoms.Heartburn during sleep is a warning sign of nighttime reflux, which may be associated with a more serious type of gastroesophageal reflux disease like inflammation of the esophagus.
Two main factors have been identified as causes of nighttime heartburn: carbonated soft drinks (A study of over 15,000 people found that the high acidity level of the carbonated soft drinks resulted in sleep-disrupting heartburn), a type of sleeping pill, or a high BMI (body mass index).
What You Can Do
There are several steps you can take at home to help you get snoozing:
- Elevate the head of the bed so your head and chest are raised when you sleep.You can do this in a few different ways: prop the mattress up by stacking blocks underneath or stack a few pillows under your head so your head is 4-6 inches above the bed. Also, you can invest in an acid-reflux pillow, which will do the same thing.
- Don't eat anything within two or three hours of bedtime.Give your stomach plenty of time to empty its contents so you won't have to deal with any back up when you go to bed.
- If you really need a snack before bedtime, chew gum afterward.This stimulates the production of saliva which will neutralize stomach acid.
- Research shows that sleeping on your left side may aid in digestion. Sleeping on your right side might aggravate your symptoms.
- Avoid foods that cause acid reflux.These include fatty foods, chocolate, alcohol, coffee, sodas, and acidic fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid medicines that may aggravate acid reflux.These include painkillers, and calcium channel blockers.Consult your medical care provider about alternatives to these, and don't stop or start any medication without his knowledge.
- Being over weight is strongly associated with acid reflux, among many other health complications.Talk with your medical care provider about a healthy weight loss plan.
- Do not smoke cigarettes.