Signs of Acid Reflux And How It Can Affect Sleep

Acid reflux and poor sleep often go hand in hand.

Acid reflux, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and heartburn are very common conditions experienced by millions. In fact, research suggests that about a fifth of people in the United States have GERD. How can you know when it’s affecting you?

The most common symptom of reflux is burning in the chest. Other symptoms are sore throat, cough with or without the sense of burning in the chest, trouble swallowing, hoarseness, and a bitter taste in the mouth. If your symptoms are increasing in frequency, it might be time to speak with a doctor. Lifestyle changes can make a big difference, and several medications are effective at lessening the effects of acid reflux.

Reflux and Sleep Apnea

Unfortunately, acid reflux makes sleep apnea worse, and vice versa. Heartburn is often experienced during the night. During sleep, stomach contents can actually travel back up the throat. The horizontal position makes the reflux occurrence easier.

For some, this means being awakened by a burning sensation in the throat. It can be hard to get back to sleep. One possible solution for this problem is to sleep partially inclined, with the upper body elevated.

Research suggests that about a third of people with obstructive sleep apnea also experience GERD. The changes in air pressure within the diaphragm due to sleep apnea make more favorable conditions for acid reflux. This is just one more reason to get sleep apnea under control.

Keys to Controlling Reflux

Many people have different triggers for heartburn and reflux. The most important trigger is the lack of probiotics and the right ph milieu in the stomach. Changing your diet to include foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics can be a big help. The digestive process is integral to acid reflux, and probiotics can help make sure digestion is happening more smoothly and the vitamins are being absorbed. Lastly, a better diet can help control obesity, which is another contributing factor to reflux. An obvious tip for controlling reflux and heartburn is to avoid your triggers, be they spicy foods, fatty foods, acidic foods, etc.

Some other steps to take include eating smaller meals, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and avoiding snacks before bedtime. Also, eat more slowly.

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