Sleep Disturbances Caused by Acid Reflux

  • It has long been suggested that acid reflux can cause significant issues with sleep for both adults and infants.  Now there is some scientific proof to what we all have seen on a daily basis in our own homes.  A recent presentation at the American College of Gastroenterology's (ACG) 75th Annual Scientific meeting in San Antonio, discussed three studies that fell under the umbrella of this topic (1).

    Not only did the studies suggest that acid reflux disturbs sleep but they went on to associate poor cognitive functioning following the disrupted sleep episodes.  Sleep was so disturbed by acid reflux episodes that participants in one study had "impaired psychomotor function" as exhibited by poor driving simulator performance.  These issues improved with proper GERD treatment (1).

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    It would be interesting to document whether children dealing with acid reflux noted issues with concentration or study habits.  Whether they have additional issues with "acting out" or other behavioral problems due to sleep disorders related to acid reflux.  Many of these issues have been mentioned over the years by parents of children with acid reflux and are well documented anecdotally.  Scientific proof of such problems could improve the likelihood of accommodations being made for school age children through tools such as the 504 plan or school medical plan.

    The positive conclusions we can draw from this information is that proper treatment of acid reflux improved both sleep scores as well as psychomotor function scores.  If your child is having issues with sleep related to acid reflux it can be very important to get the proper treatment.  Sleeping is often seen as a lesser symptom but this research indicates that sleep disruption may need to be a greater consideration in the overall health plan related to acid reflux.

    If you or your child are having issues with sleeping talk to your doctor.  There are treatments that may be useful in preventing such problems.  Stay tuned next time when we discuss some of the practical ways to deal with sleeping issues.

Published On: October 05, 2011