Digestive Health : Sleep and Heartburn Don't Mix

Heartburn can keep you up all night with acid reflux burning your chest and throat, but you can prevent it with a better bedtime routine.

You settle in between the sheets at a reasonable hour, looking forward to a restful visit to dreamland. But just as you start to drift off to sleep, you feel that familiar burn in your chest and the taste of acid reflux at the back of your throat. It’s another attack of nighttime heartburn, and your sleep is threatened again.

Stop for a minute to consider all the heartburn causes that led up to this moment — coffee in the morning and afternoon, fast food for lunch, a big bowl of pasta and too much wine for dinner. When you lie down and your head hits the pillow, the acid from your stomach rises up into your esophagus, tickles your throat, and burns your chest.

Lying down makes reflux worse, so heartburn tends to be at its worst at bedtime. In fact, nighttime heartburn is quite common, affecting as many as 79 percent of people who experience heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Nighttime heartburn does more than rob you of valuable sleep. When you go to sleep with acids in your esophagus, those acids stay there longer — and have more time to damage the tissues in the esophagus. Nighttime heartburn significantly increases the risk of health problems like erosion of the esophagus, Barrett's esophagus, and even esophageal cancer.

Sleep and Heartburn: The Treatment
Preventing Nighttime Heartburn


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