The Top 7 Tips and Lifestyle Changes to Ease Nighttime Heartburn

Sleeping with your head elevated and avoiding late-night eating can help

Woman suffering from abdominal pain, France
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Nearly eight in 10 heartburn sufferers experience symptoms at night, looking for ways to ease their discomfort. But staying up all night to fend off heartburn isn't very practical. Here's what you can do before you go to bed to help you feel better and get a good night's rest — free of heartburn.

Eat at Least Two to Three Hours Before Lying Down

This way your stomach won't still be working on that big meal when you go to bed.

Lying down with a full stomach can cause stomach contents to press harder against the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the valve that keeps food in the stomach. If foods reflux up through the LES, heartburn is the result. If your bedtime varies, choose a general cutoff point to stop eating, such as 8 p.m.

    Avoid Foods That Are Known to Lead to Heartburn

    These include foods that can trigger your heartburn, such as spicy foods, coffee, citrus fruit, and juices. If you eat any of these foods at dinnertime, it will increase your chances of having nighttime heartburn. If you aren't sure which foods trigger your heartburn symptoms, try keeping a heartburn journal for a week.

      Sleep With Your Head and Shoulder on an Incline

      Lying flat presses the stomach's contents against the LES. But if the head is higher than the stomach, gravity helps reduce this pressure and keeps stomach contents where they belong — in the stomach.

      You can elevate your head in a couple of ways. You can place bricks, blocks, or anything that's sturdy securely under the legs at the head of your bed. You can also use a wedge-shaped pillow to elevate your head and shoulders.

        Stop Smoking

        Nicotine can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, which can lead to stomach contents entering the esophagus, with heartburn as a result.

        Smoking also stimulates the production of stomach acid.

          Avoid Alcohol

          Alcohol increases the production of stomach acid. Alcohol also relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), allowing stomach contents to reflux back up into the esophagus.

            Take an Antacid When Heartburn Hits

            Antacids will work very quickly on the heartburn symptoms you may be experiencing before bedtime. It also can be used for those heartburn episodes that wake you up during the night if the heartburn comes back. An H2 blocker will work for a longer period of time, usually up to 12 hours. Another option is to combine the two. You should discuss this with your physician to determine what the best treatment is for you.

              What to Do If Nighttime Heartburn Continues

              If you continue to experience frequent heartburn symptoms at night, see your healthcare provider. You will be able to discuss the different treatment options with your physician.


                American Gastroenterological Association Brochure. "Nighttime Heartburn."

                Effect of Esomeprazole on Nighttime Heartburn and Sleep Quality in Patients With GERD: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Volume 100 Page 1914 - September 2005. The American Journal of Gastroenterology