Thousands of people are constantly looking for ways to prevent nighttime acid reflux. While this condition can occur at any time of day, for many, acid reflux more common at night and, in fact, may become a trigger for sleep disorders
Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), is caused by a weakening of the esophageal sphincter, the part of the body that allows stomach acid to rise up into the esophagus and mouth. As a consequence, the affected person feels an uncomfortable burning sensation or irritation, which is often accompanied by chest pain, heartburn, and swallowing difficulties.
Fortunately, in most cases, it’s mild and doesn’t lead to serious complications. However, it’s advisable to do everything you can to prevent the condition, because it can affect both your sleep and quality of life in general.
Below, we’ll share some tips that may help you prevent it.
Why do I have acid reflux at night?
Several factors are related to the increase of acid reflux during the night.
First of all, it’s associated with heavy and irritating dinners, especially those eaten shortly before bed. Since doing this hinders digestion and the body is in a lying position at night, the esophageal sphincter tone decreases and the acid rises back up into the esophagus and mouth. The same happens when you drink very hot drinks before bed or lying in an inappropriate position.
This problem also affects smokers, people who suffer from stress, and those who wear tight pajamas. Therefore, the first line of treatment is to improve your lifestyle by correcting bad habits that can cause it or make it worse.
The Keys to Preventing Nighttime Acid Reflux
Several measures can help prevent nighttime acid reflux, especially when it’s a recurring or severe problem. While it’s important to consult your doctor to determine if there’s an underlying cause to the symptoms, these recommendations are useful.
Avoid eating before bedtime
Although you shouldn’t go to bed without eating dinner, you shouldn’t eat right before your bedtime, either.
The ideal habit is to eat a light dinner two or three hours before bedtime. This way, your stomach’s acid secretions will be under control before bed.
Limit your consumption of irritating foods
Foods that increase acid levels can worsen symptoms of nighttime acid reflux.
Therefore, it’s advisable to limit your consumption of tomato, caffeine, luncheon meats, fried foods, spicy dishes, and alcoholic beverages, especially at night.
Elevate the head of your bed
One of the best things you can do to prevent nighttime acid reflux is sleeping with your torso slightly elevated. Therefore, it’s advisable to elevate the head of your bed.
When you put your body in a horizontal position, your stomach and throat are at the same height, which keeps stomach acid in place.
Sleep on your left side
Sleeping on your left side may reduce nighttime acid reflux episodes.
Due to anatomical reasons, sleeping on your right side of the stomach exposes the esophageal sphincter more to stomach acid, causing acid reflux.
Overweight and obese patients need to lose weight to control their acid reflux.
Due to the accumulation of fat in the abdominal girth, gastric compression increases and stomach acid rises up back into the esophagus.
Avoid smoking and drinking
You shouldn’t smoke and drink if you have acid reflux, as these habits may even aggravate symptoms.
Wear comfortable clothes to prevent nighttime acid reflux. For your convenience and health, it’s best to choose loose-fitting clothing for bedtime.
Overly tight pajamas can increase intra-abdominal pressure, allowing stomach acid to rise up into the esophagus.
Manage your stress
Proper stress management not only reduces the risk of nighttime acid reflux, but it also promotes good quality sleep.
For this purpose, relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and reading are recommended.
See your doctor
If your symptoms persist or worsen despite applying these recommendations, it’s best to see your doctor. She or he will be able to determine the cause and best treatment.
What to Take for Acid Reflux
In addition to applying the recommendations we mentioned in this article, to relieve the discomfort nighttime acid reflux causes, you can take antacids such as Gaviscon. Gaviscon is a Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare drug.
Thanks to its dual-action, it keeps acid from rising into the esophagus and, thus, fights the burning sensation while rapidly neutralizing excess acid in the stomach.