Acid Reflux and Sleeping: Part Two

  • As we discussed in my last post sleeping can be a huge issue for those dealing with acid reflux or GERD.  In some instances sleeping aids may not be the best idea either.  There are several ways you can help to limit the night time reflux monster.  Here are a few that have worked for me.  I hope they will help you to get some relief and much needed sleep!!

    1.  Elevate the head of your bed.  An angle of at least 30 degrees can help prevent night time issues with reflux.  Elevation of the head of the bed uses gravity to help keep your stomach contents where they belong, in your stomach!  It is one of the best "natural remedies" for night time reflux.  This trick applies to adults as well as children.  There are several wonderful pillows and other products on the market that can aid in elevating the head to the right angle.  I have also had several people tell me that their "make shift" methods (placing a rolled up towel under their infant's mattress or books under the head of their bed) have also worked.

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    2.  Do not eat or drink in excess before bedtime.  Ok, this may sound like common sense but in actuality many of us unknowingly eat more than our bodies can tolerate before bedtime.  Even drinking too much in combination with a smaller meal can cause trouble.  There is no "golden rule" on this issue and what might be fine for one person with GERD may not be for another.  I have found that if I avoid eating at least three hours before bedtime I can limit most of the night time issues with acid reflux.  My daughter has to wait at least two hours before laying down after eating.

    3.  Avoid acid reflux triggers before bed.  Obviously if you have acid reflux you should avoid triggering it, period!  That having been said I have found that there are some foods that I can partake of as long as the quantity is small.  Last night I learned the hard way that those small quantities, while not a huge deal during the day, are best avoided in the hours prior to bedtime.  Dinner can be a big part of this issue so be sure pay attention to what you eat in your evening meal or snacks. 


    Common triggers include; citrus fruits or juice, alcohol, tomato or tomato products, fatty or greasy foods, spicy foods, caffeine and chocolate.

    4.  Check into the timing of your medications.  If you find that you are having the bulk of your symptoms in the evening it might be best to take your medicine just before bedtime.  There are also medications that can be used for breakthrough pain that occurs at night time.  Check with your doctor to see if these changes might be helpful for your own sleeping issues.  Do not add an OTC medication to your regimen with out first discussing it with your doctor.  Some OTC medicines can adversely affect the way some GERD medications work.

    If none of these tricks work for your sleeping problems you may need to discuss the issue more thoroughly with your doctor.  There may be something else going on that is contributing to the problem.  If your acid reflux is under control your doctor may decide a sleep aid is appropriate for your situation.  In any case it is important to get to the rout of the sleep disturbance and treat it appropriately.  There is nothing better than waking up from a good night's rest feeling refreshed!!

Published On: September 23, 2009