GERD or gastro-esophageal reflux disease occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. The stomach has a protective lining but the esophagus does not, so esophageal erosions and ulcers occur. GERD is a risk factor for esophageal cancer. GERD causes varying levels of discomfort from the acid. Consuming large amounts of food at bedtime can instigate nighttime GERD, and lead to sleep problems.