Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic disorder and the most common disease that affects the esophagus. According the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, to It is estimated that 20 percent of the U.S. adult population experience GERD-related symptoms at least once per week. Studies have also indicated that up to 79 percent of GERD patients experience nighttime symptoms. Of those patients with nighttime heartburn, 75 percent reported that the symptoms impacted their sleep quality and nearly half (40 percent) expressed that their symptoms impacted their ability to function the following day. Getting enough sleep is important for everyone, but it is especially critical for those living with chronic disorders. Lack of rest can negatively impact your digestive symptoms and make sleeping even more challenging. GERD can have a dramatic impact on sleep, leading to risks of aspirating stomach acid while asleep and contributing to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Learn more about GERD and sleep below!
“There is a significant relationship between GERD and excessive daytime sleepiness and insomnia,” shares Geoffrey S. Raymer, MD of the gastroenterology and hepatology department at Penn State.
The more aggressive symptoms of GERD have been shown to wake people from sleep during the night. Those with this condition often experience sleep fragmentation due to these short periods of arousal. On top of these wakings, sleep deprivation can also adversely affect GERD by enhancing perception of acid in the esophagus and potentially increase esophageal acid exposure time. Poor sleep and a variety of sleep disturbances have been recently added to the growing list of extraesophageal symptoms of GERD such as hoarseness, throat-clearing, sore throat, wheezing, and chronic cough. The overall quality of life of those with nighttime heartburn appears to be significantly worse than the quality of life of those experiencing just daytime heartburn.
8 Helpful GERD and Sleep Tips
GERD and sleep have a complex relationship that researchers are working to better understand. If you are looking for ways to improve your sleep quality, try out the following suggestions and be sure to consult your doctor.
– Don’t eat large meals or drink beverages late at night. This can cause reflux and also cause more trips to the bathroom.
– Avoid taking a nap right after eating, it can cause reflux.
– Refrain from drinking alcohol before bed, it can keep you from falling into a deep sleep.
– Watch your caffeine and nicotine intake, both take around 8 hours to wear off.
– Consider using a wedge pillow to elevate your upper body while you sleep.
– Sleep on your left side and avoid sleeping on your back or stomach.
– Incline your bed about 3 inches with risers to raise your head. There platforms can be easily placed under the legs supporting the top of your bed.
– Coffee, fried foods, tomatoes, chocolate, and garlic can worsen your symptoms.