Getting a good night’s sleep is hard enough without constantly waking up with a burning sensation in your chest and throat. But for people who constantly suffer from acid reflux, this is a nightly occurrence. Not only is acid reflux painful, but it also causes a variety of health problems for people who experience it on a regular basis.
Sleep and acid reflux are related on a variety of levels. Thankfully, several recent studies have found that the position you sleep in could actually reduce symptoms of acid reflux, including heartburn, and maybe even stop in entirely. But before we get into that, let’s learn a bit more about what exactly is acid reflux.
What is Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a common condition that many people have experienced before, either after eating too much before going to sleep or eating some really spicy. It occurs when the stomach acid that digests food jumps back up into your esophagus, causing a burning sensation and the many conditions associated with acid reflux.
The most common condition of acid reflux is heartburn, which is a burning sensation in the chest, however, many people experience similar burning in their throat which can last for multiple days. Acid reflux can also leave a sour, vomit-like taste in your mouth, and in extreme cases it can actually cause someone to vomit.
Experiencing acid reflux for prolonged amounts of time usually provides more painful, intense symptoms and can also result in serious, long-term health conditions. This can include a variety of respiratory problems such as dry coughs and other asthmatic symptoms. This is because repeated exposure to stomach acid can seriously irritate the airways and throat. It can also cause tooth decay.
In severe cases, acid reflux can also cause emergency symptoms that require immediate attention, and can also increase one’s risk of having a heart attack. If you experience chronic acid reflux and experience the following symptoms, it is advised that you seek medical attention:
- Heartburn that seems different or worse than normal
- Severe chest pain
- A squeezing, tightening and crushing feeling in the chest
Sleeping on Your Left Side for Acid Reflux
Symptoms of acid reflux can range from mildly annoying to life threatening. Regardless of the severity, scientists are suggesting that you can at least help reduce symptoms by sleeping on the left side of your body. They came to this conclusion after reviewing a variety of studies which showed that sleeping on your right side aggravated symptoms of acid reflux, while sleeping on your left side calms it.
Scientists have a variety of theories as to why this works. One of them is that sleeping on your right side relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acid to pass through it and burn your esophagus while you sleep with the aid of just gravity. Another is that sleeping on your left side keeps the point where your stomach and esophagus connect above the level of stomach acid.
Regardless of the science behind it, researchers found that study participants who slept on their left side after eating large, high-fat meals experienced less acid reflux and heartburn symptoms than those sleeping on their right side.
So, if you ever happen to have a large or spicy meal before bed, make sure to lay on your left side to avoid acid reflux and the painful symptoms that accompany it. For more information on how the position you sleep in affects your health, click here.
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