Sleeping with Acid Reflux? Is the thought of spending 1/3rd of your life in bed asleep killing you?
We sleep through roughly 1/3 of our lives; for the average person who lives well into their 70s, that’s about 23 years of their life spent in bed. These are easy hours for most, but for people living with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease that’s over 8,000 hours of potentially painful interrupted sleep that is wreaking havoc on the rest of the body.
There is a valve at the entrance to the stomach, which is actually a ring of muscle called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). When functioning normally, the LES closes just after food passes through. With GERD, the LES doesn’t close all the way, or if it opens too often, acid produced by the stomach can move up into your esophagus. This causes heartburn – that burning sensation in the chest you typically feel. If you have frequent heartburn (more than twice a week), you may have Acid Reflux disease or otherwise referred to as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
One in four Americans suffer from heartburn, or are in the beginning stages of Acid Reflux disease, particularly in the nighttime when our bodies naturally slow down, this is according to a study done in the medical journal CHEST. Another study that tested 1,900 GERD patients found that 55% of those in the study felt the heartburn kept them from getting a restful night’s sleep.
If these symptoms are sound familiar, you should consult your doctor for testing and a proper diagnosis. Unfortunately medication is the most common treatment for heartburn, but doctors also recommend lifestyle changes that are also needed to treat the problem not just mask it. Most commonly, doctors recommend the following lifestyle changes: elevate the head of your bed (doctors suggest at least a six inch incline of the entire body); avoiding alcohol, caffeine and chocolate; quit smoking; monitor your diet; don’t eat within three hours of bedtime; and increase exercise.
Most lifestyle changes are obvious and will benefit your overall health, however most patients are not aware of the significant benefits that sleeping at an incline can also have for so many of the body’s ailments including: spinal cord injury, back pain, sinus and respiratory disorders, poor circulation, low metabolism, Edema in the legs, cosmetic post-operative recovery and many other conditions.
Medical facts from Healthwise as reported on WebMD state that when someone sleeps flat on the back, particularly on a softer / less supportive mattress, the upper-back and chest tend to sink in causing your air passages to collapse. Most importantly to heartburn sufferers, stomach acids have the chance to flow back into the esophagus, particularly for those patients that have a weakened LES. By sleeping at an incline, gravity keeps the acids in place. For individuals that snore, the incline allows you to breathe without heavy effort cause by the collapsed airway, resulting in less snoring or labored breath. It also keeps your tongue from falling back into the throat and blocking air.
If elevating the head, chest and throat allows for better airflow, imagine the benefits of inclined sleeping when you’re sick with colds, flu and allergies. The incline opens the nasal passages allowing drainage to flow down the throat into the stomach – using gravity.
If you are currently on medication for Acid Reflux, or feel like the above symptoms describe you, please talk to your doctor about the benefits of sleeping head elevated.
Gravity1st™ Elevated Sleep Systems mattress offers an excellent way to achieve comfortable head elevated sleep. It is doctor recommended.