Acid reflux disease (or GERD) affects millions of Americans every year.
If you suffer from heartburn or regurgitation, you might want to try some natural remedies instead of taking prescription drugs.
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acids flow back into the esophagus.
This causes painful burning sensations in the chest and throat.
The condition usually happens after meals, especially when you eat foods high in fat or protein.
Stacking pillows is a great way to relieve symptoms caused by acid reflux.
Stacking pillows is a simple technique that involves placing two pillows under your head and neck.
A Key Reason For Acid Reflux At Night
The most common reason for having acid reflux during sleep is an imbalance between the amount of acid produced in the body and the ability of the lower esophageal sphincter to keep it contained.
If there is too much acid produced in the body, then the acid will back up into the esophagus, causing pain and discomfort.
How Are You Sleeping?
The position in which you sleep can really play a part in how the acid moves in your body.
The key to preventing acid from bothering you is to ensure it is staying in your stomach.
It is normal for our stomachs to contain acid, but it is when it moves around to other places that causes the issues.
When sleeping, the muscles in your stomach relax, allowing food to move through them.
When this happens, it allows acid to move into the esophagus and causes problems.
During the daytime, you are likely to be spending most of the day upright, meaning the acid is staying in your stomach, with gravity doing its job in keeping it there.
Therefore, it is more common for acid reflux to occur at night, within the first few hours of sleep.
What Causes Acid Reflux At Night?
The esophagus is what stops food from leaving the stomach.
However, when these muscles become weak or relaxed, it can cause acid to spill through them.
As mentioned earlier, gravity plays a large role in this, so when you are upright, the acid is likely to remain in the stomach, as the esophagus flows naturally into the stomach.
Acid reflux is likely to occur in the first few hours when a person goes to bed.
It is more likely to occur if the person has consumed a considerably heavy meal quite late in the evening.
There are several other factors that could lead to acid reflux at night. Some of these include:
- Drinking alcohol
- Smoking cigarettes
- Using caffeine
- Being overweight
- Weight gain
Sleeping Positions For Acid Reflux
Your sleep position will control how the acid moves in your body.
Now, you don't need to try sleeping standing up to avoid experiencing acid reflux, but the position in which you sleep can really help manage these symptoms.
Sleeping at a slight incline can really help when it comes to acid reflux.
You can do this by stacking pillows around your upper back and under your head.
A good rule of thumb is to keep your head elevated around 8 inches above your body.
Depending on the size and thickness of your pillows, this could amount to around 3 or 4 of them.
You should also ensure that your torso is elevated.
This will limit how often acid will move from the stomach to the esophagus, therefore reducing the symptoms of acid reflux.
Sleeping On The Left Side
If the idea of sleeping so elevated does not appeal to you, studies have shown that sleeping on your left side can reduce symptoms of acid reflux.
In this position, your stomach remains below the esophagus, ensuring that the acid will not spill over.
If any does escape, gravity will do its work by making sure the acid moves back down into the stomach.
This goes for both positions.
Positions You Should Avoid When Experiencing Acid Reflux
Avoiding certain positions can also help you to avoid acid reflux.
These include lying flat on your back, lying face down, and sleeping on your right side.
Lying Flat On Your Back
This is one of the worst positions to lie in, as it puts pressure on the lower part of your abdomen, causing acid to flow upwards towards the esophagus.
If you find yourself lying flat on your back during the night, make sure you get up every hour or two to stretch out your abdominal muscles, and to allow the force of gravity to move the acid back down into the stomach.
Lying Face Down
This is another bad position to lie in, as it can cause acid to move to the esophagus.
There is also the risk of back and neck pain when it comes to sleeping in this position, so it is best avoided if possible.
Sleeping On Your Right Side
When you are sleeping on your right side, your stomach will be positioned above the esophagus, meaning acid can leak into this part of the body much easier.
Studies have also shown that symptoms of acid reflux in right-sided sleepers tend to be coughing and choking.
These are not pleasant things to experience in the middle of the night.
To prevent this from happening, try sleeping on your left side instead. This way, gravity will take care of the problem.
Other Ways To Manage Acid Reflux At Night
There are many ways you can manage acid reflux at night without having to change your sleep position.
You can try using antacids, which will neutralize the acid before it reaches your esophagus.
You can also use proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as omeprazole or lansoprazole.
These medications will stop the production of gastric juices in the stomach, thereby preventing the release of acid.
Furthermore, you could also make sure you are eating your dinner earlier in the daytime.
Try to avoid big meals up to two hours before bedtime.
If you are a smoker, this could increase the risk of acid reflux also, as well as being obese.
You should also limit nighttime snacks and fatty foods.
Acid reflux is very common among individuals.
The good news, however, is that with a few changes in sleep positions and lifestyle choices, the symptoms can be reduced greatly.