Acid reflux disease can not only cause heartburn, but it can have an impact on your ability to get a good night's sleep. Learning how to manage the condition can lead to a resolution of sleep problems. If you suffer from acid reflux, here is what you need to know about its impact on your sleep and what you can do.
Why Does Acid Reflux Cause Sleep Problems?
Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach is pushed back into the esophagus. When this occurs, you can experience heartburn, vomiting, and coughing. The symptoms of the condition can sometimes be exacerbated when you lie down to sleep.
If you are able to fall asleep, you could experience choking and coughing that would disturb the process. As a result, falling asleep and staying in that state until morning could prove challenging.
Acid reflux has also been associated with a more serious sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can result in your airways being blocked while you sleep. When this occurs, you can stop breathing and are at risk of serious consequences.
Can Changing Your Diet Help?
Dietary changes are often one of the first steps taken to help alleviate acid reflux. Some foods have been associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing acid reflux symptoms. For instance, highly acidic foods, such as lemon, can increase the chances that you will experience symptoms.
Other foods you should eliminate from your diet or reduce consumption of include caffeinated drinks, spicy foods, fatty foods, and chocolate. Your doctor might recommend other foods that you should limit or avoid in your diet.
What Sleeping Habits Can You Change?
Even with changes to your diet, there is still a possibility that you could experience acid reflux symptoms. Making changes to your sleeping habits can sometimes provide you the relief you are seeking.
For instance, sleeping with your head elevated can help prevent acid from flowing back into your esophagus while you are lying down. You also should avoid lying on your back. Even with your head elevated, the pressure from placing weight on your back can push the acid into the esophagus anyway.
In addition to these measures, plan your mealtime for an earlier period. By eating a few hours earlier each day, you give your digestive system time to properly process the food. As a result, there is a significantly reduced amount of acid left to flow back into the esophagus.
Talk to your doctor about other ways you can control your acid reflux so you can avoid sleep problems.