Can changing your sleeping position help to prevent acid reflux?

Have you been experiencing a sharp burning in your throat, choking, coughing, regurgitation and heart burn during the night? You may have acid reflux disease! 

The condition, which is also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), affects a large number of adults. Nighttime acid reflux can be a major cause of a poor sleeping experience for yourself and your family. 

If you are suffering from the condition, you can improve the quality of your sleep by taking up steps to improve your sleep hygiene. We explore these changes in our article, as well as provide a few other tips to help you improve the quality of your night overall.

What is acid reflux?

Your stomach acid is responsible for digesting food, and tends to be confined to your stomach. The acid, which is powerful enough to dissolve a razor blade, is pretty harmless here. A valve around your stomach’s entrance, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), prevents this acid from moving into this sensitive region. Acid reflux occurs when the LES fails to close completely, allowing some acid into your esophageal tract. If you experience acid reflux on more than two days a week, you may have GERD.

Acid reflux disease can also be more prevalent among people who eat very close to bed time, are overweight, drink alcohol and other stimulants, as well as those who smoke. It is also common among pregnant women, as well as among people who eat tomatoes, mint, chocolate, garlic, spices and fatty foods. Some medication, such as aspirin, blood pressure pills, ibuprofen and muscle relaxers may increase the frequency of acid reflux.

Can a new sleeping position help to prevent acid reflux?

Acid reflux, especially during your night, can have serious health ramifications. By regularly failing to get a full night’s rest, you will expose yourself to a higher prevalence for some serious ailments. You will also likely be less alert and have poor judgment due to consistent lack of sleep. Acid reflux will cause strictures and peptic ulcers, as well as esophageal cancer and Barrett’s Esophagus in rare circumstances, all of which will make your night even more uncomfortable over time.

If you have been experiencing acid reflux, changing your sleeping positing can help reduce the high frequency. People who may have acid reflux should avoid sleeping on their backs at all times. Sleeping on your back makes it easier for your acid to seep into the esophageal region and stay trapped there. If you sleep on your back, you will be more likely to experience severe effects of the condition for a longer time. Sleeping on your right side can be just as bad for your acid reflux. In this position, your stomach is above your esophageal tract, with the LES likely experiencing some leaking. 

Sleeping on the left is ideal for people suffering from acid reflux. In this position, gravity prevents any leakage into the esophageal tract. Any acid that spills out of the LES will quickly head back into the stomach, allowing for quick resolution. You may still experience some effects of acid reflux, but it is far less severe than that experienced while lying on your right or back. Using an incline or special pillow can help prop up your body and prevent leakage even further. 

How to take up better sleep hygiene to address acid reflux

Sleep hygiene is a group of pre-bed rituals that help to ensure you get the recommended quality and quantity of sleep every night. Good sleep hygiene will result in improved sleep, which can be crucial to great health. An ideal schedule could even help you curb acid reflux, ensuring better nights for you and your family. Here are a few measures that could help out.

Avoiding certain beverages before bed

Alcoholic beverages and sleeping pills will relax your body’s muscles, making the LES valve more likely to seep acid into your esophageal tract. This can increase the likelihood of acid reflux during your night. Other beverages, such as caffeinated drinks, will upset the balance of your stomach and may increase the likelihood of acid reflux. Cutting these out for a sufficient length of time before bed, about two to three hours, will help keep acid reflux in check.

Changing your mattress

Changing your mattress when you need to will ensure better nights and could even reduce the risk of acid reflux. Lumpy and uneven mattresses make it hard to rest comfortably during the night, with constantly shifting positions increasing the likelihood of stomach acid leaking into your esophageal tract.

But when should you change your mattress? For high density units, you should consider changing your mattress every eight years. You may need to change your mattress sooner if it starts to creak or smell. Signs of wear may be slow to show, but if you find yourself rolling into the center, then a new mattress might be a necessary addition. Leading brands such as Restonic will be key partners to helping you find a comfortable and suitable mattress for your needs. It will be helpful also to read mattress reviews before purchasing a new one.

Setting a diet and meal schedule

Acid reflux may be influenced by your dietary tendencies. If you eat fatty or spicy foods, as well as very heavy meals, you may be more likely to experience it. The same is also true for people who eat so close to their bed times. If you want to reduce the risk of the condition, you could minimize your intake of fats and spices, as well as push up your meal times to allow you fully digest dinner. You could also reduce your intake by having more meals throughout the day. You should also resist any urge to have snacks right before bed.

Final word

If you have acid reflux disease, you may consistently have trouble sleeping. Acid reflux causes nausea, regurgitation, dysphasia, choking, wheezing and chronic dry coughs, all of which make for an uncomfortable night. Even though there are a few medical options to manage acid reflux, changing your diet and lifestyle can be more effective in addressing it. You should consider eating smaller meals frequently throughout the day, wear loose clothes, work out and change your sleep hygiene. By taking up these changes, you may enjoy fewer interruptions and better-quality rest every night.

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