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How To Sleep With GERD


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December 13, 2022

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How To Sleep With GERD – Have you ever experienced heartburn that jolted you awake from your night’s sleep? If this is the case, it might be that you have GERD symptoms that are preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep.

What Is GERD

women with throat pain

According to the National Sleep Foundation, GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease is a type of chronic illness that can pose a serious threat to your health when left untreated. People with GERD often experience heartburn at night which can disrupt their sleep. They are also susceptible to various sleep disorders such as insomnia, daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea, as well as restless leg syndrome just to name a few.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD happens when the stomach acid goes back up the esophagus hence there is this burning sensation in their chest accompanied by choking or coughing even as they attempt to go back to sleep. This happens when the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close or is a bit loose.  If the acid travels way up the larynx and the throat, you might end up waking because you are choking. On the other hand, if acid only reaches your esophagus, you’re most likely having nighttime heartburn only.

How Do You Get GERD

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How do you get gastroesophageal reflux in the first place? Acid reflux can be triggered by hiatal hernia which is a type of abnormality in the stomach that causes stomach acid and stomach contents to go up the esophagus, thus causing reflux symptoms to appear.

Other causes of reflux include:

  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Eating close to bedtime
  • Consuming large meals then lying back down after
  • Drinking carbonated drinks, alcoholic beverages, and the like
  • Consuming spicy foods
  • Is GERD curable?

Is it possible for you to treat the disease GERD? Doctors may recommend their patients to make changes to their lifestyle as well as taking over-the-counter medications to see if there will be any changes to their condition. Among these are antacids to help regulate the stomach acids, H-2 receptor blockers that work longer in reducing your acid production, and also proton pump inhibitors that can also help the tissues in your esophagus to heal.

How Does GERD Affect Sleep?

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There are studies that show GERD and sleep to be connected. You see, when you lie in bed, your horizontal position can cause your stomach acids to go back up. Unless you prop your upper body so that the contents will not create a backflow, it will be difficult for you to get a good night’s rest. Not only that, but your GE reflux can also be interconnected with sleep apnea since the changes in the pressure in your diaphragm as well as your chest cavity because of the narrowed airways can make it easier for symptoms of GERD to appear. And because of the vicious cycle between obstructive sleep apnea and GERD, it is not surprising that you can’t fall asleep easily at night. How to sleep with GERD then?

How to Sleep with GERD

You’re probably wondering how to sleep with GERD so that you won’t have to deal with sleep disturbance every night. If you want to keep symptoms of heartburn at bay especially at night, these tips can help you out.

Raise your upper body

Like it was mentioned above, propping your upper body with a pillow or with the use of adjustable beds can help reduce symptoms of acid reflux significantly. This way, the stomach acid will settle in your stomach rather than going back up your esophagus and throat.

Sleeping positions

For those who are wondering how to sleep with GERD, prone positioning is not recommended. What is the best position for GERD? Experts recommend that you raise your upper body at least 6 inches so that the stomach acid will not go back up. If using a pillow is uncomfortable for you, you can use a sleeping wedge or a wedge-shaped pillow to elevate your upper body. A wedge pillow will keep your upper body in place especially if you are a back sleeper. Another best position for GERD is sleeping on your left side. This is also considered as the best position for GERD because it keeps the stomach acid in place due to gravity.


It is understandable that you want to learn how to sleep with GERD especially when the symptoms of reflux are causing sleep problems on your part such as sleep bruxism, apnea, and the like. With the tips mentioned above, you don’t have to go on a war vs reflux because you will be able to alleviate your condition naturally.

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