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12 Tips To Ease Nighttime Heartburn

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 20, 2023

    12 Tips To Ease Nighttime Heartburn

    Many people who regularly have heartburn and acid reflux also experience it at night, and the discomfort and bitter taste can make falling asleep difficult or impossible. When you lay flat in bed, your throat and stomach are basically at the same level, making it easy for stomach acids to flow up your esophagus, causing heartburn. Fortunately, you can ease heartburn at night with a few lifestyle changes.

    How to Reduce Heartburn at Night

    Sleep on your left side

    Because your esophagus is now elevated beyond the level of your stomach contents, even if your stomach is full, sleeping on your left side might help ease heartburn at night. If you experience reflux, gravity can swiftly restore the contents to your stomach.

    Achieve to have a healthy weight

    As you gain weight, heartburn might get worse. Losing as little as two and a half pounds can help.

    Add an extra pillow under the head when sleeping

    When you lie flat in bed, your neck and stomach are almost at the same level. This makes it easy for stomach acids to travel up your esophagus and induce heartburn. To avoid this, sleep with your upper body elevated.

    Dress comfortably

    According to specialists, tight clothing frequently makes the stomach feel gassier since food cannot be properly digested under pressure in the abdomen. The food that is not digested may contribute to acid reflux.

    Keep a meal journal

    A meal journal can help you keep track of the things that may cause your heartburn, especially citrus fruits and acidic foods like tomato products. While the causes of heartburn vary from person to person, common offenders include alcohol, caffeinated beverages like colas, coffee, and tea, chocolate and cocoa, peppermint, garlic, onions, milk, and fatty, spicy, greasy, or fried meals.

    Consider light meals in the evening

    As late-night or heavy meals put pressure on your stomach, try eating a smaller meal in the evening to help prevent overnight heartburn symptoms. Also, avoid eating two to three hours before bedtime to reduce stomach acid and enable the stomach to partially empty its contents before you sleep.

    Avoid rushing through meals

    Avoid hurried meals because doing so can make your stomach produce more stomach acids. After meals, unwind, but don’t lie down; instead, try deep breathing exercises or meditation. Also, stay upright after eating to reduce the risk of acid splashing up your throat.

    Rest after meals

    Before indulging in strenuous exercise, wait a few hours after a meal to give your stomach a chance to empty. Don’t forget to stay upright while resting. 

    Chew sugar-free gum

    Some study reveals that chewing gum after a large meal can lower acid levels in the esophagus and may help in preventing gastroesophageal reflux disease. This may help battle acid reflux and heartburn symptoms as well as freshen breath.

    Talk to your doctor about your medication use

    Some drugs, such as some NSAIDs, some blood pressure and heart meds, some hormone prescriptions, some asthma and depression drugs, can cause heartburn in various ways, just like different people’s food triggers can.

    Heartburn: When to go to the Doctor

    Heartburn that occurs at night or that gets worse could be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It can be brought on by a number of things, including eating particular foods, eating too close to bedtime, and using certain prescription medications. If lifestyle modification does not help you control your heartburn, it might be time for medication or another type of therapy. 

    Call your doctor if:

    • Heartburn that won’t go away
    • Having difficulty swallowing
    • Your heartburn makes you throw up,
    • Even after taking antacids for two weeks, you still get heartburn.

    Consistent heartburn should never be ignored. At worst, it can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can result in esophageal cancer. It can also scar and narrow your esophagus.

    Key Takeaways

    The influence of gravity on food passing through your digestive system is diminished when you are lying down. Many people find that their heartburn is worse at night. This is because lying down stops gravity from preventing bile and acids from flowing up into the esophagus and generating heartburn.

    Learn more about Heartburn here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jezreel Esguerra, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 20, 2023

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