You’re trying so hard to get a good night’s sleep, but unfortunately, that dreadful burning sensation caused by heartburn just isn’t letting you. If that’s what you’re experiencing right now, then you’re not alone. In fact, millions of people around the world suffer from heartburn and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) – or to put it simply, acid reflux.
Why acid reflux happens?
The reason why acid reflux happens is because stomach acid found its way into your esophagus due to a poorly functioning lower esophageal sphincter. In case you’re wondering, your lower esophageal sphincter is the one responsible for keeping your stomach acid inside your stomach. Certain foods such as spices, chocolate, tomatoes, and even fatty foods can cause this muscle to loosen up.
But why does acid reflux affect your quality of sleep?
In most cases, the effects of heartburn tend to aggravate at night, thereby explaining why a lot of people tend to have sleeping difficulties. According to Scott Huber, a gastroenterologist at the Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease, most people tend to suffer from acid reflux upon lying down. The reason for this actually has something to do with gravity. If you lie down, gravity won’t be able to pull the acid back to your stomach in the same way that it can when you’re not lying down.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s very likely that you can wake up in the middle of the night suffering from heartburn if you have acid reflux. In some cases, however, some might also experience coughing or chocking depending on how far up their stomach acid travel to their esophagus.
How to prevent that from happening?
Fortunately, there seems to be a solution to this, and it’s not as difficult as you might think.
According to science and most experts, sleeping on your left side can help prevent acid reflux from happening. And even if it doesn’t totally prevent it, it can at least lessen the effects. The reason is that when sleeping on your left side, your stomach tends to be elevated higher than your esophagus. As a result, gravity will help take care of the rest.
In the event that stomach acid manages to escape, gravity will be able to return it quickly to your stomach compared to when you sleep on your right side or when you sleep on your back. According to studies, people who left on their left side tend to experience less severe effects of acid reflux than those who sleep on their right side or back.
Apart from sleeping on your left side, here are also other tips you want to try in order to reduce, even prevent, acid reflux:
- Wait for at least 3 hours before you sleep after eating a meal
- Make sure to chew your food slowly and thoroughly to make digestion a lot easier
- Use a pillow to elevate your head while sleeping
- Eat foods that can help prevent acid reflux such as oatmeal and vegetables
The next time you can’t seem to sleep due to acid reflux, try sleeping on your left side. It might just work!