Have you ever felt these -a raging fire in your throat, heartburn, regurgitation, coughing, and choking…all night long? Do you even know who to blame? It’s definitely stomach acid. However, acid isn’t always the bad guy. Stomach acid plays a critical role in smooth digestion and overall gut health. Plain old acid isn’t the problem. Your problem lies in having the unfortunate luck of having acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). You feel this when stomach acid leaks to places where they’re not supposed to be, like to the lining of the esophagus and even up into your lungs, throat, and sinuses. In a nutshell, stomach acid should stay in your stomach. All the time. Controlling your nighttime acid reflux symptoms will most likely follow once you’ve triumphed over keeping them where they should be.
Gravity and anatomy operate a pivotal role in discovering relief from nightly GERD manifestations. You are most likely standing or sitting up during day time. When stomach acid escapes then, gravity and saliva are able to promptly return this potentially dangerous substance to your stomach. Also, when standing erect, your esophagus readily slides down into your stomach. This immediate return of acid to your stomach often makes your symptoms manifest for a shorter amount of time, as well as decreases the potential injury acid can induce to the sensitive lining of your esophagus.
Rule #1: Flat Back = Bad (Back is Bad)
Sleeping on your back when you have acid reflux is just a disaster waiting to happen. Back sleeping is one of the worst decisions you can have if you are already experiencing acid reflux at night. When acid leaves your stomach while you’ve chosen to sleep flat on your back, you’re giving the acid freedom to flow into your esophagus and beyond…and stay wherever it wants. This position will cause your symptoms to manifest more frequently and have a tendency to last longer because the acid can choose to stay where it wants. The severity of your symptoms may also progress if you have stomach fat. The fat will push down on your stomach that will spill its contents. Avoid lying on your back at all costs.
Rule # 2: Right Side Ain’t Right for Acid Reflux
Since sleeping flat on your back ain’t good, you should also remember that sleeping flat on your right side isn’t proper as well for a GERD sufferer like you. When you’re in a supine position on your right side, your stomach is above your esophagus and becomes a leaky faucet pouring stomach acid into the sensitive lining of your esophagus. This is aggravated when your stomach is full. When lying flat on your right, your reflux will favor a more liquidy effect – regurgitation, coughing and choking out acid all over your toilet bowl ( if you’re lucky to reach it in time). Gravity does nothing for you in this position, acid remains in your esophagus for a much longer time so do not sleep on your right side.
So, flat back is bad and the right side ain’t right for acid reflux. What’s a victim of GERD got to do now? The answer lies with the last rule you need to remember.
Rule # 3: Choose Left For Acid To Have Left
Always sleep on your left side! This position will finally make gravity work in your favor because your stomach is now located below your esophagus, which will greatly hinder reflux. Should some stomach acid leak, gravity will return it to your stomach much quicker than when you’re lying on your right side or flat on your back. When on your left side, reflux symptoms tend to be more gaseous. It could be more irritating but considerably less distressing. Symptoms should be less frequent and less severe when you choose to lie on your left side as opposed to your right side or on your back. Definitely, choose left.
Benefits of Sleeping In An Inclined Position
Has your doctor ever advised you to sleep at a propped up position using a bed wedge or blocks beneath the bed frame? Sleeping at an incline decreases reflux symptoms and enables stomach acid to go back to your stomach faster. As long as your complete torso is raised (not just your head and neck), resting at an inclined position gives good-ol’ gravity a major power boost so stomach acid can return to your stomach and stay there.
Incline + Left-Side Sleeping for Acid Reflux
What happens when you take the most ideal flat sleeping position, the left side, and combine it with an incline? Will the advantages cancel each other out or would they add up?
Recent studies by the University of Maryland Gastroenterology, Baltimore show that the benefits will indeed accumulate. The mashed-up inclined, left-side sleeping position will make acid reflux at night essentially improbable because your esophagus is now located above the level of your stomach, even if it’s full. On the off-chance you do reflux, gravity will promptly return the contents to your stomach as by magic. Sometimes, you really have to combine two good things to create something great. This position will be a dual whammy of reducing your GERD symptoms and shielding yourself from continued acid susceptibility of your sinuses, esophagus, throat, and lungs.