How to Improve Sleep for Acid Reflux Patients

  • Last time we talked about the issues of sleep disrupted by acid reflux.  One of the most common questions that I get from parents of acid reflux babies involves how to deal with these disruptions in sleep cycles.  It can be a huge factor in quality of life for both adults dealing with acid reflux as well as for infants and their parents dealing with this disease.

    There are several tips for improving sleep in patients with acid reflux.  The first step should be to make sure that the acid reflux is being adequately controlled by medications.  Most sleep related reflux issues were eliminated by proper treatment.  While standard practice is to utilize acid reducers or PPI's to accomplish this goal it has also been noted that antispasmodics may also aid in sleep improvement.  One medication studied in adults, Baclofen, showed promising results.  Levsin has often been used in children with spasms of the GI tract and it would be interesting to see if it also worked to improve their sleep quality.

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    There are also non-pharmaceutical methods to improve sleep in acid reflux patients.  One of the most important is routine exercise.  Exercise, independent of weight loss, improved the sleep quality for many acid reflux patients.  Subsequent weight loss for obese or overweight patients will only increase the benefit of exercise on sleep disorders caused by acid reflux.

    Elevation has also been shown to reduce the number of acid reflux related events while sleeping.  Adults should refrain from laying flat at night.  This can be employed by the use of a wedge or other positioning device.  Positioning devices have recently become more controversial for infant use and should be discussed with the child's pediatrician before implemented.  Our daughter's used a crib wedge to deal with their night time reflux episodes and we saw very good results with sleep improvement.

    Dietary changes to reduce acid reflux as well as limiting meals before bedtime can reduce issues with sleeping.  Reduction of stimulants such as caffeine as well as alcohol can play a role in eliminating dietary related causes for sleep disturbances.

    If you continue to have issues with sleeping in your own life or your child's contact your physician.  Sleeping can be disrupted by many issues and should be evaluated and treated properly.  Tune in next time while we talk about behavioral sleeping issues in infants with acid reflux.

Published On: October 06, 2011