Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder and a more chronic form of Acid Reflux, in which the stomach acid repeatedly flows back into the esophagus causing irritation to the lining of esophagus. If you experience Heartburn which is the most common symptom of Acid Reflux for more than few weeks or more than twice in one week then you may have GERD. If the disorder is left untreated then it may lead to some serious health problems and the most common problem which majority of people experiences is sleep disorders.
Some statistics about Sleep Disorders caused by GERD:
According to National Sleep Foundation (NSF), Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is one of the primary causes of disturbed sleep among the adults between the ages of 45-64. NSF has conducted a poll and the results have stated that the adults in United States who experience nighttime heartburn are more likely to develop various sleep-related symptoms than those who don’t experience any nighttime heartburn. These sleep-related symptoms include insomnia, daytime sleepiness, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.
It is very common that the people who have sleep apnea also have GERD. Sleep apnea is the sleep disorder in which you have rapid shallow breathing or you have one or more pauses while breathing. These pauses can last for few seconds to few minutes and they may occur 30 times or more in one hour. Usually, normal breathing can start again but with a loud snort or choking sound. It is a chronic problem that affects the daytime routine activities of the person. NSF suggests that people experiencing symptoms of GERD must get themselves screened for sleep apnea.
Coughing and choking are some of the symptoms of GERD that you experience when you are going to sleep and these become worsen when you lie down. This happens because the stomach acidic contents backflow becomes high from your stomach to your esophagus even to your throat causing coughing and choking. Fortunately, there are various ways that you can follow to improve your sleep. These ways include some lifestyle and behavior changes which can really help you to get a better and quality sleep, even with GERD. Let’s see how you can improve your sleep with these ways:
Use a wedge-shaped pillow:
A large, wedge-shaped pillow (commonly called sleep wedge) is specially designed to manage the GERD-related sleep disorders. This wedge-shaped pillow helps you to stay upright which resists the flow of stomach acid back into the esophagus. It also limits those sleep positions that put pressure on your abdomen and worsen the heartburn and acid reflux. If you are unable to find sleep wedge at bedding stores then look out maternity shops as they usually have sleep wedges because GERD becomes common during pregnancy. You can also check drug stores, medical supply stores and specialty sleep stores.
Incline your bed:
If you tilt the head of your bed upward then it will raise your head with which the stomach acid is unlikely to reflux back into the esophagus during night. It is recommended to use bed risers. The bed risers are small, column-like platforms that are placed under the legs of the bed. Most of the people use them to make room for storage and you can easily find them at home accessory stores. For the treatment of GERD, place these bed risers under the two legs at top of your bed and don’t put them under the legs at foot of your bed. Make sure that your head is higher than your feet. The risers must be six inches high which gives you helpful results.
Wait to lie down:
If you go to bed too soon after eating then the GERD symptoms get flare up and affect your sleep. It is recommended to finish eating meals 3-4 hours before going to bed and also avoid bedtime snacks. In the meanwhile, after eating the meal, you can also do other activities at your home such as dishwashing, laundry which gives enough time to your digestive system for processing the meal.
Research has found that regular exercise can improve and better regulate the sleep. Exercise also helps in weight loss which lessens the symptoms of Acid Reflux and GERD. Remember, that it is not recommended to exercise before going to bed because it can make it hard for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
What’s the Bottom-line?
The symptoms of GERD can considerably impact the quality of your sleep but you can take various measures to reduce the symptoms, overcome the affects and improve your sleep. You can also adopt long-term lifestyle changes mainly weight loss which greatly helps in reducing the problem of trouble sleeping due to GERD.
While lifestyle changes help to improve the quality of your sleep, some people having GERD need medical treatment also to treat the condition. The physicians at GI Endoscopy Practice are highly recommended in NJ to help you creating a proper treatment plan tailored according to your needs and that works best for you. From the very first session to devising the treatment of GERD, the doctors provide you the best care that you truly deserve.