Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is also known simply as acid reflux. GERD and sleep disorders are closely related and affect about 5-7 % is the people in the world. GERD can negatively effect sleep and disrupts sleep in several ways.
GERD and Sleep: Negative Aspects
Research on GERD and Sleep disorders shows that the severity of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease symptoms increases when is sleeping. Sleep is best achieved when lying in a flat position. This position makes it easy for acid to reflux- flow from the stomach to the mouth. The acid can flow back as far as the larynx and throat to cause coughing and chocking that will wake you up.
GERD and sleep disorders not only affect sick person but also the sleeping partner making sleep to be uncomfortable for them. GERD is associated with “gassiness” and passing wind especially at night when you are unconscious. The sound and smell of the wind coming out can be unflattering for your sleeping partner. The constant belching can make sleeping with such a patient difficult.
GERD and sleep experts suggest that the pain in the stomach experienced in acid reflux affects sleep. In an attempt to massage the stomach so as to reduce pain, GERD patients have to roll and turn a lot before and during sleep. The friction between the body and sheets generate a lot of heat that makes sleeping to be difficult.
GERD and Sleep studies have shown that GERD patients are more likely to exhibit the following sleep disorder symptoms:
- Daytime sleepiness.
- Sleep Apnea.
- Inability to maintain sleep.
- Lateness in waking up.
Factors that increase risks of GERD and Sleep Disorders
- Age – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and sleep disorders can affect anyone at any age. However, persons above the age of 40 are at a higher risk.
- Alcohol – aside from the known bad effects of alcohol on sleep, alcohol further aggravates sleep by increasing GERD symptoms.
- Smoking – GERD and sleep disorder symptoms are more severe among smokers.
- Pregnancy – the increase and change in hormone levels causes more acid to be produced.
- Obesity and Diet – certain foods increase GERD symptoms and should be avoided in order to reduce the effects of GERD and sleep disorders.
In general, the following foods should be avoided by patients affected by both GERD and Sleep disorder:
- Citrus fruits such as oranges and pineapples.
- Caffeinated drinks.
- Food cooked by frying such as French fries.
- Garlic, onions and ginger.
- All types of spices.
- Tomatoes and foods based on tomato.
GERD and Sleep: Tips for Coping with Problems
GERD can be caused by a myriad of factors. Therefore, it is important to see a doctor for proper diagnosis. Over-the-counter medicines are only successful in treating symptoms and neutralizing the acid.
- To treat GERD and Sleep problems, a strict diet as suggested above must be adhered to.
- Avoid lying down or sleeping after a meal. Your bedtime and sleep time should be at least 3 hours apart.
- It is important to lose weight in order to relieve if not completely eliminate the symptoms of GERD.
- Be sure to relieve yourself in the toilet just before you sleep.