Acid Reflux Can't Sleep

Acid reflux manifests itself as indigestion or heartburn and is a common symptom of GORD.  Sufferers encounter an unpleasant burning sensation in their chest, a bitter taste in their mouths and sometimes vomiting.  Acid travels back up from the stomach due to the valve (lower oesophagal sphincter) not functioning properly. The condition causes great discomfort and affects everyday life.

Triggers include spicy food, chocolate, smoking, drinking and stress. Eating large portion sizes and lying down straight after eating also cause acid reflux. Pregnant women are also prone to having acid reflux due to the baby squashing their stomach up to their ribs. Long-term acid reflux causes damage to the oesophagus, may lead to vomiting and may be a sign of a serious health condition.

Symptoms manifest themselves at night because you lie down to sleep and your body relaxes. Taking anti-inflammatories or asthma medication also causes acid reflux. Many sufferers encounter sleepless nights because the burning sensation and nausea keep them awake.

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What Causes Acid Reflux

Some people get mild acid reflux in the form of indigestion or heartburn after an indulgent meal.  In most cases over the counter antacids usually, relieve the symptoms. Others suffer incredible discomfort over long periods of time which may cause damage to Barrett's oesophagus and eventually lead to cancer.  Acid reflux is a symptom of gastric oesophagus disease (GORD). Acid is able to travel back up from the stomach because the band of muscle between the oesophagus and stomach (the sphincter) is weak and opens up.

Symptoms include; a bitter taste in your mouth, chest pains, a burning sensation in your chest, coughing and shortness of breath.  Some people even vomit because of the intensity of the acid in their throat. Chest pains from acid reflux also feel as if you are having a heart attack so if you are in doubt you must see your doctor.

Anti inflammatory medicines and asthma medication cause the muscles to relax and increases the the chances of getting acid reflux.  Other causes include; eating too much, eating spicy foods, caffeine, chocolate, smoking, drinking, stress, pregnancy and lying down after eating.  People with acid reflux suffer sleep disturbance because the acid travels back to their mouth while they are sleeping. The pain and the overwhelming need to vomit causes them to wake up.

How To Prevent Sleep Disturbance

Waking up choking with vomit in your throat is not particularly nice and often feels quite scary so it is important to relieve your symptoms.  Avoiding triggers such as eating smaller portions, avoiding smoking and drinking will help to reduce symptoms. Eating your last meal three hours before bedtime also helps to stop acid reflux.  Elevating your pillow so you sleep in an almost sitting position prevents acid from travelling back up your throat.

If these measures don’t relieve your symptoms proton pump inhibitors are a family of drugs used to treat the condition.  They work by reducing the production of stomach acid Omeprazole, Lansoprazole and Nexium belong to this family of drugs. Long term use of these drugs is not advisable due to concerns about the long term effects.

Sleep deprivation causes all sorts of physical and psychological problems and effects everyday life.  If you are constantly losing sleep due to acid reflux you must consult your doctor.

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By Birpal Virdee (May 2018)