Tips and Techniques
Acid reflux is a common condition that can cause a burning sensation in the chest and throat. This can occur during the day, but many people experience symptoms at night, making it challenging to get a good night's sleep. In this blog, we'll discuss the best sleeping position for acid reflux, which can help you manage your symptoms and get a better night's rest.
What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic condition that occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. The most common symptom of GERD is heartburn, which can also cause a sour taste in the mouth. Other symptoms of GERD can include acid regurgitation, bloating, nausea, and belching.
What Causes Acid Reflux at Night?
Acid reflux occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, which is responsible for keeping food in the stomach, becomes weak or relaxed. During the day, gravity helps keep stomach acid in the stomach. However, at night, when you lie down, gravity is no longer working in your favor. This can cause acid to flow back up into the esophagus, leading to symptoms of acid reflux.
Factors that can trigger acid reflux at night include consuming fatty or spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine, smoking tobacco, stress, pregnancy, weight gain, and taking certain medications that affect the functioning of the esophagus.
Sleeping Positions for Acid Reflux
The right sleeping position can help manage GERD symptoms and improve the quality of your sleep. Here are the best and worst sleeping positions for acid reflux:
Best Sleeping Position: Left Side
Sleeping on your left side can be the best position for acid reflux. When you sleep on your left side, gravity works in your favor, as your stomach stays below your esophagus. This makes it more challenging for acid to flow back up into the esophagus. If stomach acid does escape, gravity can quickly return it to your stomach, minimizing the amount of time it sits in the esophagus.
Studies have shown that symptoms of acid reflux are less frequent and less severe when a person sleeps on their left side compared to their right side or back. This makes sleeping on your left side the most desirable position for people with GERD.
Sleeping on an Incline
Sleeping on an incline can also help manage acid reflux symptoms. Elevating your head 6 to 8 inches off your body by using extra pillows under your head and upper back can help prevent stomach acid from flowing back up into the esophagus. This position can also help your body get stomach acid back to your stomach quicker, reducing the symptoms of GERD.
Studies have shown that sleeping on an incline can reduce nighttime acid reflux and help manage heartburn and poor sleep from nocturnal GERD.
Worst Sleeping Positions: Back and Right Side
Sleeping on your back is generally not recommended for people with GERD. When you sleep flat on your back, acid can flow freely into your esophagus and remain there, increasing the frequency and duration of symptoms.
Sleeping on your right side can also worsen GERD symptoms. When you lie on your right side, your stomach is above your esophagus, which can lead to stomach acid spilling into the esophagus. This position is especially problematic when your stomach is full.
Tips for Managing Acid Reflux at Night
In addition to adjusting your sleeping position, there are other lifestyle changes you can make to manage acid reflux symptoms at night. These include:
Limiting alcohol intake, heavy meals, fatty meals, and nighttime snacks
Eating in the early hours of the evening
Managing body weight if you are overweight or obese
Avoiding drugs that may limit the functioning of the esophagus, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
In some cases, a doctor may prescribe medications or recommend surgery to treat GERD. Talk to your doctor if you experience symptoms that may be disturbing your sleep, so they can prescribe treatment or lifestyle recommendations to manage your condition and improve your sleep health.
Acid reflux can make it challenging to get a good night's sleep. However, making simple changes to your sleeping position, such as sleeping on your left side or elevating your head, can significantly reduce your symptoms and improve the quality of your sleep. Additionally, making lifestyle changes like managing your body weight, quitting smoking, and avoiding certain foods and medications can help prevent acid reflux at night. If you experience symptoms of GERD, speak to your doctor about appropriate interventions that can help you manage your condition and get the restful sleep you deserve.