Heartburn and reflux attacks are more common during night-time than at any other time of the day. If you are suffering frequent heartburn during the night it is not something that should be ignored as it brings with it particular dangers and you are not in a good position to deal with the problem.
Gastroesphogial reflux disease (GERD) is a problem for millions of people, it occurs when the esophageal sphincter, a small valve that separates the esophagus and the stomach, becomes damaged or is relaxed by certain foods and fails to keep acid where it should be in The stomach. The problem can increase at night for two reasons.
· By lying down you are removing the benefit of gravity and allowing acid to flow more easily into the esophagus
· Many people eat late in the evening which causes pressure on the stomach forcing acidic juices out of the stomach.
Unfortunately night-time attacks can be more damaging than similar attacks during the day. Firstly attacks can disrupt sleep which means the body does not have the opportunity to repair. But even more seriously acid can remain in contact with the walls of the esophagus for much longer periods. During the day sufferers will usually take action as soon as they feel the discomfort of a reflux attack. Drinking water or even swallowing saliva can help flush acid back to where it should be. At night time, however the sufferer may be unaware and so the acid settles in the esophagus.
Fortunately, there are some fairly simple actions that you can take to avoid heartburn during the night
· Avoid Eating late at Night. Our busy lifestyles mean that we often get home late and eat just before going to bed. Ideally you should try to have your last meal at least two hours before going to lie down. This will allow some of the food to leave the stomach.
· Make Your Last Meal Small. Traditionally we have our main meal last thing. This makes no sense at all. You are providing most of your body’s fuel just before 8 hours of inactivity. Try making lunch the main meal and have a lighter snack as your last meal.
· Avoid Carbonated Drinks. Drinks that are full of gas will bloat your stomach causing pressure and pushing acid out of the stomach. If you must drink Cola try to have it at lunchtime and no later.
· Avoid Known Heartburn Triggers. You will probably know the foods that cause heartburn for you, but here are some of the more common ones; Spicy food, coffee, very starchy food, foods containing high levels of fat or grease.
· Try Raising your Head. Sleeping with a large bolster pillow or raising the head of your bed on 6 inch blocks may help to prevent night time heartburn.
· Cut Down or Stop Smoking. A more difficult one but smoking has a major damage affect on your body and particularly the throat and esophagus that is under attack from heartburn. Smoke strips the protective layer of mucus from your esophagus leaving it more exposed to the acid.
· Alcohol. Unfortunately alcohol will both increase the production of stomach acid and relax the esophageal sphincter. Try to avoid late night drinking and you may be heartburn free that night.