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Here are 4 simple tips to help you sleep better with heartburn

Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD, often causes bothersome symptoms regardless of the time of day. But heartburn and heartburn at night can make it difficult, if not impossible, to sleep. To combat this problem, we’ve rounded up four ways to sleep better at night with acid reflux.

Change the position you sleep in

Acid reflux occurs when the contents of your stomach back up into your esophagus. It’s normal to have some heartburn from time to time, but when it happens more frequently, more than twice a week, it’s called GERD.

Although GERD symptoms can appear at any time, they often worsen at night. When you lie down, gravity no longer helps keep stomach acid from flowing back into your stomach. You also produce less saliva while you sleep, which normally neutralizes stomach acid. You’ll also swallow less, which should normally help keep the acid down.

Studies show that the best sleeping position for GERD is on the left side. Because it reduces the chance of your esophagus being exposed to stomach acid. Sleeping on your back and sleeping on your right side can increase your chances of acid reflux.

If you’re not used to sleeping on your left side, try switching to a side pillow to see if that helps.

Sleep on a slope

If you’ve tried changing positions to wake up on the side you were trying to avoid, sleeping on an incline may help. Experts recommend raising the head of your bed 8 to 12 inches for best results.

Keep your head up to prevent stomach acid from backing up into your esophagus and throat. This causes people with GERD to cough and choke during sleep. If you can sleep in a different position, research published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology shows that it’s best to sleep on your left side with your head elevated.

Try not to drink alcohol in the evening

Researchers are still trying to determine the link between GERD and alcohol. However, many studies have shown that alcohol, especially heavy alcohol consumption, can make symptoms worse. Alcohol has been shown to lower pressure in the lower esophageal sphincter, which can increase the likelihood of reflux.

Because alcohol causes the esophageal sphincter to relax, avoid drinking a few hours before lying down to prevent nighttime acid reflux. Drinking in moderation (no more than one alcoholic drink per day) can also help relieve symptoms.

Avoid foods that cause heartburn

If you have GERD, the first thing your doctor might recommend is making changes to your diet to help manage the symptoms. Spicy, acidic, and high-fat or salty foods cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. As a result, the digestion process is delayed and the food stays in the stomach longer.

Because these foods stay in the stomach longer, they should be avoided three to four hours before bedtime. You should also avoid large meals in the evening. This is because digestion creates more acid in the stomach, and lying down reduces your lower esophageal sphincter’s ability to keep that acid from flowing back.

Changing the way you work can be difficult at first. So if you’re stressed about adjusting your lifestyle, take a deep breath and start slowly. Take a small step like buying a pillow that will help you sleep better on your left side and try it for a week to see if it helps. Listen to your body, you can always make more changes or roll back your restrictions if needed.

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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