Sleep and Heartburn: Understanding the Connection and Finding Relief

Posted by Darian Dozier on Feb 7, 2024 8:12:00 AM

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Sleep is an essential aspect of overall well-being, but for individuals who suffer from heartburn, nighttime can become a challenging experience. The connection between sleep and heartburn is well-established, as various factors during sleep can exacerbate or trigger heartburn symptoms. In this blog post, we will explore the relationship between sleep and heartburn, delve into the underlying causes, and provide some practical tips to help you find relief and achieve a better night's sleep.

Understanding Heartburn

Heartburn, also known as acid reflux, occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the chest and throat. It is commonly triggered by certain foods, large meals, obesity, pregnancy, and certain lifestyle factors. Understanding the basics of heartburn is crucial to grasp how it can disrupt your sleep.

The Impact of Sleep on Heartburn

Lying down and gravity

When you lie down, especially after a meal, gravity's influence weakens, making it easier for stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. This is why many people experience heartburn at night or when they wake up in the morning.

Sleep Position

The position you sleep in can affect the frequency and severity of heartburn. Sleeping on your right side can exacerbate symptoms, while sleeping on your left side can provide some relief. Additionally, sleeping in an elevated position, such as using a wedge pillow, may help prevent acid reflux.

Tips for Managing Heartburn During Sleep

  • Adjust your eating habits: Avoid large meals close to bedtime and refrain from consuming trigger foods like spicy, greasy, or acidic foods. Instead, opt for smaller, lighter meals.
  • Allow digestion time: Try to eat your last meal at least two to three hours before bedtime to allow your stomach to empty partially.
  • Sleep position: Experiment with sleeping on your left side, as it may help reduce acid reflux. Alternatively, you can elevate the head of your bed by using bed risers or placing a wedge pillow under the mattress to create an incline.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Maintain a healthy weight, avoid smoking, and limit alcohol consumption, as these factors can contribute to heartburn.
  • Medication and professional advice: Over-the-counter antacids or acid-reducing medications can provide temporary relief. If symptoms persist, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment options.

Establishing a Sleep Routine

Creating a consistent sleep routine can positively impact both sleep quality and heartburn symptoms. Stick to regular bedtimes and wake-up times, practice relaxation techniques before bed, ensure a comfortable sleep environment, and consider incorporating activities such as light exercise or stretching into your daily routine.


Sleep and heartburn share a complex relationship, with various sleep factors influencing the occurrence and severity of heartburn symptoms. By understanding the connection between sleep and heartburn and implementing some simple lifestyle modifications and sleep practices, you can alleviate heartburn discomfort and improve your sleep quality. Remember, if your symptoms persist or worsen, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance. Prioritizing both sleep and digestive health will contribute to your overall well-being and enhance your daily life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with sleep deprivation, then please click the orange button below to take a free online sleep test and talk with one of our sleep health professionals. 

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Topics: GERD, Heartburn

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