Living With

Acid reflux and sleeping: Part 1

Jennifer Rackley Health Guide September 23, 2009
  • I did not sleep well last night.  As the mom to three very rambunctious girls this is a phrase that I utter quite frequently.  Add acid reflux to the mix and sleep becomes even more rare.  Chocolate before bedtime... well, you get the idea.  Burning, sour tastes and nasty burps kept me up half the night!

    According to a recent study in the September issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology I am not the only one with this problem.  In fact the study, which included more than 11,000 patients with GERD, determined than almost 89% had night time symptoms and 63% had trouble sleeping (1).

    The first instinct for many people with sleep disturbances is to reach for some kind of pharmaceutical sleeping aid.  While these can be tremendously helpful for some they may not always be the best idea for those dealing with GERD.  


    Dr. Anthony J. DiMarino Jr., of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia led a study on the use of sleeping aids in GERD.  The study indicated that those patients placed on medications to aid sleeping experienced longer periods of acid reflux events than patients on the placebo.  Even the healthy controls experienced an increase in acid reflux events when placed on sleeping aids (2).  

    The GERD patients acid reflux events were measured at 20 to 55 seconds in the placebo group and as high as 4 to 8 minutes for those taking a sleeping aid.  One of the explanations is that the sleeping aid caused people not to wake with the acid pain which led to the increased exposure times (2).

    If you have ever had issues sleeping you know exactly how hard it can be to function after several days of this issue.  People who miss out on sleep increase their risk for getting sick, have poorer job performance and other issues due to a lack of "shut eye".  So where exactly does that leave those of us dealing with both GERD and sleep disturbances?  Tune in next time as we discuss how to help alleviate your night time acid reflux symptoms.