Sleeping with Heartburn and Acid Reflux

The persistent heartburn that can come with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. And if it does, you are not alone. In Naples and Ft. Myers, heartburn and acid reflux keep many people from experiencing a good night’s rest.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease is caused by damage to the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus. When the LES becomes damaged, digestive juices like stomach acid can backwash into the esophagus, causing irritation and inflammation to the esophageal lining. The result of this is a burning sensation that many know well as heartburn, as well as a plethora of other symptoms ranging from indigestion and nausea to asthma and a hoarse voice. For many people, the symptoms only get worse when it is time to go to bed.

Most studies claim that three out of four GERD sufferers say they are kept awake at night by heartburn symptoms. However, by taking a few precautions, you can greatly reduce overnight discomfort from GERD.

Try some of the tips below to sleep a little easier with your GERD symptoms:

  • Avoid eating or drinking within three hours of going to bed.By making sure that your stomach is empty when you go to sleep at night, you reduce the risk of acid reflux and the accompanying heartburn.
  • Avoid sleeping on your back.This is especially important advice if you are obese. Sleeping on your left side is the best option for alleviating symptoms. When sleeping on your right side, you put too much pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter. Try buying extra pillows to help you maintain the correct position as you sleep.
  • Elevate the head of your bed by six to eight inches.When you sleep this way, gravity helps keep any irritating acids in your stomach.

While diet and lifestyle changes can often reduce the severity and frequency of heartburn, they cannot cure GERD, but surgical procedures such as those using the EsophyX device can. The EsophyX is inserted through the mouth in an incisionless procedure. The device helps tighten the lower esophageal sphincter to keep acid from refluxing, and since the procedure is incisionless there is a greatly reduced chance of complications and minimal downtime following the procedure.

Talk with your general surgeon Dr. Bass to learn more about reflux surgery and other ways you can sleep better with GERD.