Managing Night-Time Reflux with Your Sleeping Position

Managing your night-time reflux with your sleeping position

Night time reflux and heartburn are painful for those that suffer from it.  It causes many sleepless nights with frustrating symptoms that feel like they won't ever go away. Many people don't realize that lying flat on your back often worsens the condition. Unfortunately, patients often wake up with heartburn, a sour taste in the throat, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. It often takes at least an hour for symptoms to subside. Luckily, there are numerous things you can do to make sleeping with your nighttime reflux much easier.

Sleep On Your Left Side

This position seems to help reduce reflux symptoms according to Dr. David A. Johnson, MD of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia School of Medicine. It is shown that sleeping on the left side reduces acid reflux. When sleeping on your left side use a thick pillow for the head. Don’t let your head tilt down. Use a small pillow under waist to protect the stomach and a third between the legs.  This places the stomach below the esophagus reducing stomach acid from rising into it.

Sleep With Your Upper Body Elevated

When you lay flat on your back, it easily allows for stomach acid to flow up through your stomach to the esophagus to your throat. One of the easiest ways to elevate your head and neck is to use a wedge pillow that is 6 to 8 inches thick at one end. These pillows prevent you from reclining into a bent position. A bent position can put pressure on the stomach and produce reflux. Look for wedge pillows in maternity sections of stores, medical supply stores, and some drug stores.

Avoid Sleeping On Your Right Side

This is because this position places the esophagus above the stomach and relaxes the lower sphincter muscle. This allows acid to flow into the esophagus from the stomach causing nighttime reflux symptom. Waking up with heartburn and a burning in your throat is not pleasant and can cause loss of sleep many nights.

Don’t Eat Meals Late At Night

Eat smaller meals as large meals tend to put pressure on the stomach.  Eating several hours before bedtime allows the stomach to digest the food and empty out.  This helps to reduce and prevent the symptoms of reflux at night.

Don’t Lay Down Until Three to Four Hours After Meals

 Don’t go to sleep after you eat or lay down for at least three to four hours. This is another way to prevent nighttime reflux. Avoid the urge to snack late at night before bed.  It is recommended to keep moving about 30 minutes after every meal.  Walk the dog or walk through the neighborhood after dinner.  Wash dishes, or clean the house for ½ hours.  Sit down and watch TV later but don’t recline on the sofa.

Titling Your Headboard

This is done by using a bed risers a small column like platforms under the legs of the bed.  This will raise your head thus reducing stomach acid from rising into your esophagus.  The bed risers are often used for storage under bed and found at home furnishing stores.  Use two risers under the headboard of the bed not the bottom. You want your head to be higher than your feet.

When changes in diet and sleeping for reflux do not work or reduce symptoms it is time to contact a doctor. A doctor can run tests and often find medications that will help eliminate nighttime reflux. Don’t suffer for months with reflux at night contact a doctor and seek treatment. 

By Joan Russell