Tips for Preventing Nighttime Heartburn

Nearly eight in ten heartburn sufferers experience symptoms at night. If you suffer from nighttime heartburn, you may not realize that what you do during the day and how you sleep at night can have a big impact on whether or not you suffer from nighttime heartburn.

Here are several tips to help you feel better and get a good night's rest that is free of heartburn:

Sleep with your head and shoulders elevated.

Lying flat allows stomach contents to press against the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). Also, having the head higher than the stomach allows gravity to keep stomach contents where they belong.

Sleep on your left side.

Studies have shown that this position aids digestion and helps with the removal of stomach acid. Sleeping on the right side has been shown to worsen heartburn.

Wait at least 2 to 3 hours after eating to go to bed.

Lying down with a full stomach can cause stomach contents to press harder against the LES, increasing the chances of refluxed food.

Make sure your bed clothes are loose-fitting.

Clothing that fits tightly around the abdomen, such as tight belts and waistbands, will squeeze the stomach, forcing food up against the LES, and cause food to reflux into the esophagus.

Chew gum before bed.

Chewing gum can provide short-term heartburn relief by stimulating the production of saliva, which dilutes and flushes out stomach acid. More importantly, saliva can actually neutralize stomach acid.

Stop smoking.

Some people enjoy a before-bed cigarette. Nicotine, however, can weaken the LES. Smoking also stimulates the production of stomach acid.

Avoid Alcohol.

Alcohol increases the production of stomach acid and relaxes the LES.

Lose Weight.

If you are overweight, pressure of excess weight can increase the chance stomach acid will back up in to your esophagus.

Take an antacid when heartburn hits.

Antacids will work very quickly on heartburn you may be experiencing before you go to bed. If you are taking an antacid more than once or twice a week, you should see your doctor about another treatment plan.


Stress may lead to an increase in stomach acid production. It is also known to lead to behaviors that can trigger heartburn, such as overeating.

"Nighttime Heartburn" The American Gastroenterological Association. Paraesophageal Hiatal Hernia28 May 2008.

American Journal of Gastroenterology, "Updated Guidelines for the diagnosis and Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease." The American College of Gastroenterology. Paraesophageal Hiatal Hernia28 May 2008.

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