Nighttime Heartburn during Acid Reflux Disease
Many people experience heartburn and acid reflux time to time. The symptoms often include a burning sensation in the chest, an upset stomach and regurgitation of digestive fluids, and sometimes food particles that may even reach the throat or mouth.
When these symptoms develop chronically, they are considered indications of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); more commonly called acid reflux disease. Nighttime heartburn is a common aspect of acid reflux disease.
What Causes Nighttime Heartburn
Nighttime heartburn is caused by a combination of physiological and environmental factors, including dietary habits, sleeping patterns and other behaviors.
Common causes of nighttime heartburn include:
- Being overweight
- High blood pressure
- Sleep disorders
- Eating or drinking alcohol before bed
- Exercising before bed
By some estimates, about 75 percent of people who have acid reflux disease will experience nighttime heartburn at least once per week. Many of these individuals report that nighttime heartburn will disrupt their sleeping patterns, often causing them to wake during the night. Nighttime heartburn is considered chronic when it develops at least two times per week.
Getting Control of Nighttime Heartburn
Nighttime heartburn is just as painful as daytime reflux, but with the added discomfort of causing fatigue from disrupted sleep. Making certain changes to your sleeping patterns, dietary habits and other behaviors may help with the management of nighttime heartburn symptoms.
Reduce nighttime heartburn by:
- Limiting your consumption of trigger foods, including acidic foods like citrus, tomatoes and vinegar
- Reducing consumption of fatty and fried foods
- Limiting portion sizes to reduce pressure on the stomach and esophageal sphincter, especially before going to bed
- Do not drink alcohol before going to bed
- Exercise early in the day instead of just before retiring for the night
- Sleep with your head raised so to prevent the backwash of digestive juices like stomach acid as you rest
While habits like these can help reduce the severity and frequency of nighttime heartburn, they do not correct the underlying problem. Treatment for acid reflux disease can correct nighttime heartburn, helping to improve sleeping habits and reduce discomfort from chronic acid reflux. Medications may provide temporary relief from nighttime heartburn symptoms, but surgical correction of reflux disease is considered the best method of treatment.