About 20 percent of adults in the United States experience acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease. Acid reflux is when the esophageal sphincter, a circular muscle that prevents stomach contents from escaping, is weakened. Stomach acid can spill out, damaging the esophagus. If left untreated, acid reflux may contribute to other sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, by obstructing the airways.
Symptoms of acid reflux may feel more intense after you lie down because stomach acids are more likely to creep back up and cause heartburn when the gut is level with the esophagus. If you go to sleep immediately after eating, or suffer from certain digestive disorders, you may feel a burning sensation in your chest or a sour taste in your throat when you wind down for sleep; this occurs as stomach acid causes irritation in the esophagus.
Elevating the head can reduce acid reflux since sleeping in an upright position sets the esophagus over the stomach, making it harder for stomach acid to escape. But how exactly can you elevate the head of your bed to control acid reflux?
In our article, we talk about different ways to elevate your head while you sleep and the benefits of sleeping at an incline for easing acid reflux. Plus, we share helpful tips on how to improve sleep quality.
How Does Elevating Your Head Help?
When you sleep with your head elevated, gravity keeps stomach acid down, preventing stomach acid from entering the esophagus. Lying down instead of upright may also cause food to come back up the esophagus and into your mouth.
Ways to Elevate Your Bed
A few ways to elevate your bed include sleeping on an adjustable bed, lying on a wedge pillow, or installing bed risers. Each method raises your upper body and controls the acid reflux.
Adding an adjustable bed to your sleep system is a great way to reduce the effects of acid reflux. An adjustable bed allows you to electronically elevate your upper and lower body with a convenient click of a button. An adjustable bed may cost more than a bed frame, but you may feel the price is worth it, especially if an adjustable base can provide a good night’s sleep.
Wedge pillows have a gentle incline and are typically made of foam. Wedge pillows are a less expensive way to elevate your upper body, reducing acid reflux. Most wedge pillows cost between $30 to $80, depending on the brand.
Plastic or wooden bed risers are another way to elevate your bed. Placing bed risers under the two bedposts at the head of the bed raises the upper body so that the stomach is under the esophagus, meaning stomach acid is more likely to stay inside the stomach instead of escaping. While bed risers are an affordable option, there is the risk of your mattress sliding down if not properly secured in place.
Other Ways to Control Acid Reflux
Lifestyle modifications can further control acid reflux, including the foods you eat and increasing physical activity. These habits can reduce acid reflux symptoms and help you sleep better at night.
Don’t Eat Heavy Meals Right Before Bedtime
Eating a large meal right before bed can not only aggravate acid reflux, but it can also make it harder for you to fall asleep. The body needs time to digest, but if you immediately go to bed, the body focuses more on digesting food in your stomach than inducing sleep.
Eating two to three hours before bedtime ensures food is properly digested, so you can rest easy with less risk of experiencing acid reflux. However, if you need a late-night snack to curb hunger, we suggest keeping it light and sticking to fruits and veggies.
Avoid Fatty and Spicy Foods
Fatty food, like fast food meals and fried foods, contain higher levels of fat. More fat takes longer for the body to digest, which can result in the stomach producing more acid to break down fatty foods. More stomach acid can worsen acid reflux. Also, spicy foods may aggravate acid reflux because they contain capsaicin, which can slow digestion.
If you’re going to eat these types of foods, it’s better to consume them earlier in the day, so the fatty or spicy foods have less chance of inducing acid reflux when you’re trying to sleep.
Chew Gum After a Meal
After eating, chewing a stick of gum can help reduce acid reflux. Chewing gum produces more saliva, which can clear your mouth and throat of acid. If you chew gum, avoid mint because it can temporarily relax muscles and produce more stomach acid.
Stay Away From Citrus Fruits in the Evening
Citrus fruits are high in ascorbic acid, a chemical that increases stomach acid production and may worsen acid reflux. Try to avoid any foods or drinks with citrus fruits at night, including orange juice.
Engage in Physical Activities
Doing at least 30 minutes of physical exercise can reduce stomach compression, causing you to lose weight and decreasing the amount of pressure placed on the stomach when you lie down. Less pressure may reduce the likelihood of stomach acid spilling out into the esophagus.
Wear Loose Clothing to Bed
When you wear tight clothing to bed, you’re placing more pressure on your stomach, causing stomach acid to spill out and triggering acid reflux. Loose clothing reduces pressure and improves blood circulation since there’s less restriction surrounding the body.
Choose an Amerisleep Adjustable Bed
If you’re looking for an adjustable bed, choose Amerisleep. We offer two excellent models—the Amerisleep Adjustable Bed Base and the Amerisleep Adjustable Bed+. Both provide the upper body elevation you need to be comfortable and minimize acid reflux symptoms.
Amerisleep Adjustable Bed Base
The Amerisleep Adjustable Bed Base gives you full-body comfort through remote-controlled settings. The wireless remote allows you to create presets, so you’re spending more time sleeping and less time trying to find that perfect position.
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Amerisleep Adjustable Bed+
The Amerisleep Adjustable Bed+ has the same features as the Amerisleep Adjustable Bed Base, but with a couple of luxury additions. You can enjoy the rolling motion of a full-body massage with the Amerisleep Adjustable Bed+. You control the intensity through wireless remote control. The massage feature soothes tense muscles, allowing you to slip into a deeper sleep.
Instead of a bulky retainer bar to hold the mattress in place, we use a MicroHook™ retention system. The surface has gentle friction, so the bed stays in place as you elevate your upper and lower body.
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How high should you raise the head of your bed to reduce acid reflux?
The best bed height for reducing acid reflux is 6 to 8 inches. At this height, gravity can prevent stomach acid from leaking into the esophagus and you can sleep better.
Is the zero-gravity sleeping position good for acid reflux?
The zero-gravity sleeping position offers a variety of benefits, and reduced acid reflux is one of them. In this position, your upper body is slightly elevated above your gut, and this keeps stomach acids at bay and facilitates better digestion.
What can I eat before bed if I have acid reflux?
Even though you shouldn’t eat before bed, light snacks high in protein are good options that won’t aggravate acid reflux. They’re also easy to digest and may even induce sleep. These foods include yogurt, cottage cheese, and raw vegetables with hummus.
Why do I have acid reflux at night?
Acid reflux is strongest at night because lying on a flat surface makes it easier for stomach acid to spill into the esophagus. Also, we tend to eat our biggest meal in the evening, which may aggravate acid reflux symptoms since it may take longer to digest more food. Sleeping in an upright position reduces acid reflux because gravity is able to keep acid in the stomach.
What’s the healthiest way to sleep?
The healthiest sleeping position is side sleeping. This position reduces acid reflux, but it can also improve heart health and open up your airways. Back sleeping and stomach sleeping can worsen acid reflux by positioning the stomach and esophagus next to each other and putting more pressure on the stomach.
The pain of acid reflux can make it hard to fall asleep, but elevating your upper body can reduce this discomfort and ensure a good night’s sleep. There are several ways you can elevate your body, but the best way is through an adjustable bed. With the tap of a button, you can elevate your upper and lower body, increase your comfort level, and reduce the effects of acid reflux.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.