Tips and Techniques
Acid reflux can make sleeping at night a real challenge. Fortunately, there are several sleeping positions that can help alleviate symptoms and promote a more restful sleep. In this blog, we will explore the best sleeping position for acid reflux and offer tips on how to control your symptoms at night. Whether you suffer from GERD or occasional acid reflux, these tips can help you get the quality sleep you need.
Acid reflux can be a real nightmare, especially at night. Fortunately, there are several sleeping positions that may help alleviate your symptoms and provide you with a more restful night's sleep. In this article, we will explore the best sleeping position for acid reflux and provide tips on how to control your symptoms at night.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic gastrointestinal condition that occurs when stomach acid escapes into the esophagus. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn, which may also be accompanied by acid regurgitation, bloating, nausea, and belching.
What Causes Acid Reflux at Night?
Acid reflux can occur at night when lying down because gravity and anatomy play a critical role. During the day, you are more likely to be upright, and stomach acid quickly returns to the stomach, thanks to gravity and saliva. Moreover, when you're upright, your esophagus naturally flows down into your stomach, minimizing the potential harm of acid on the esophagus lining. In contrast, lying down causes acid to escape into the esophagus more frequently and remain there for longer. Acid reflux at night may also occur after consuming heavy meals, especially late at night.
Acid Reflux Sleeping Positions
Here are some sleeping positions that may help reduce your GERD symptoms and promote better sleep:
Sleeping on your left side may be the best position for acid reflux. This position allows gravity to work in your favor, keeping your stomach below your esophagus, making reflux more challenging. If stomach acid escapes, gravity can return it to your stomach more quickly than when lying on your back or right side. Studies have shown that people who sleep on their left side have fewer and less severe GERD symptoms than those who sleep on their right side or back.
Sleeping at an incline means elevating your head and upper back by 6 to 8 inches, which can help limit the frequency of stomach acid escaping to the esophagus. Elevating the head while lying down has been shown to reduce nighttime acid reflux and improve heartburn and sleep quality.
Left Side + Incline
Combining an incline with the left-side sleeping position is highly effective in preventing acid reflux at night. This position keeps your esophagus positioned well above the level of stomach contents, making it virtually impossible for acid to escape even if your stomach is full. The left-side sleeping position can also prevent prolonged acid exposure to your esophagus, throat, lungs, and sinuses.
Sides to Avoid Sleeping on for Acid Reflux
Here are two sleeping positions that people with GERD should avoid:
Sleeping on your back increases the frequency and duration of acid reflux at night. Acid that escapes from your stomach can freely flow into your esophagus and remain there, causing more severe symptoms. Back sleeping should be avoided at night if you suffer from nighttime acid reflux.
When you sleep on your right side, your stomach is above your esophagus, allowing acid to flow into the delicate lining of your esophagus. This position should be avoided, especially if your stomach is full. Symptoms of GERD are more liquid when lying on your right side, which may lead to regurgitation, coughing, and choking.
Additional Tips to Control Acid Reflux at Night
In addition to changing your sleep position, lifestyle modifications can help alleviate your GERD symptoms and promote better sleep:
Avoiding alcohol, fatty foods, spicy foods, caffeine, and nighttime snacks
Eating meals earlier in the evening. Managing body weight if you are overweight or obese
Avoiding drugs that may limit the functioning of the esophagus like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Your doctor may also prescribe medications or recommend surgery to treat GERD when appropriate. Speak with your doctor about your symptoms so they can prescribe treatment or lifestyle recommendations to manage your condition and improve your sleep health.
In conclusion, sleeping on your left side, at an incline, or both can help alleviate GERD symptoms and promote better sleep. Avoiding back sleeping and sleeping on your right side can worsen GERD symptoms. Lifestyle modifications such as avoiding trigger foods and quitting smoking can also help control acid reflux at night. Remember to speak with your doctor if you experience symptoms of acid reflux or GERD, as they can best recommend treatment or lifestyle modifications appropriate for your case. With proper sleep positioning and management of your symptoms, you can finally get the restful, quality sleep you deserve.