Heartburn – one of man’s most annoying ailments – usually comes when we least expect it. Despite eating a mild dinner, completely chewing our food, and taking all the proper precautions, sometimes heartburn still sneaks up. It’s one of those pains that doesn’t keep a set pattern and is out to get its victims no matter the time of day. Unfortunately, one of its most popular times is throughout the night. Associated with lying down and inactivity, heartburn can strike just as soon as you’re ready to relax.
But rather than addressing your diet – let’s face it, a daily routine that no one wants to change – heartburn can actually be cured through outside factors, such as how and when you sleep. Rather than sticking to bland dishes or popping a handful of Tums each night, consider these easy alternatives instead.
Sleep on your Left Side
Believe it or not, this simple trick can help settle acid and keep it that way. By turning on your left, the body naturally digests its acids without the need for medicines or uncomfortable contraptions.
For those with side-sleeping issues, consider the help of a leg support or body pillow. These small additions can provide the comfort you need to sleep in a heartburn-friendly position.
Lose Three Pounds
Losing even a few pounds can help your body to better digest foods in a timely, non-painful manner. Doctors say that as few as 2.5 pounds can help to reduce symptoms by placing less pressure on the stomach and chest. This is an effective (and easy) option for those who aren’t looking to lose a large amount of weight.
In contrast, heartburn symptoms are greatly increased with weight gain. If you’ve noticed pains becoming more frequent or worse, check the scale to see if weight gain (even minimal) could be the cause.
Avoid Tight Clothes
When choosing a set of PJs, be sure to grab the comfy, loose-fitting set for maximum heartburn-fighting power. Tight fabrics can restrict the chest and stomach, causing acid build-up, and chest and throat pain.
Loose-fitting clothes during the day are also a good idea. The better your body can breathe and digest, the harder it will be for heartburn symptoms to build.
Elevate your Chest When Sleeping
The slightest incline during sleep will improve drainage through the esophagus. This allows acid to naturally drain and settle without any painful side effects. Breathing will also become easier and more fluid when slightly raised.
Try a Folding Wedge Pillow, which adjusts for different levels of sleeping inclines, stack another pillow underneath your upper back, or consider an adjustable mattress for easy heartburn relief.
Wait to Lounge
After eating dinner (or any other big meal), be sure to wait before lying down. Ideally, give yourself an hour or two before bedtime – at the least – to ensure the stomach has had enough time to finish breaking down the heavier parts of each meal. Laying too early could interrupt the digestion process and let acid flow into the esophagus, which is one of the main causes of heartburn.
When early lounging must be done, stick to a couch or recliner so the chest is still at a steep angle.
Eating an earlier dinner will also help you stick to this timeline; remember to enjoy a relaxed, slow-paced meal. Food that isn’t fully chewed or is swallowed too quickly in succession can also cause heartburn.
Whether chronic or popping up at random, nighttime heartburn is something no one enjoys. It affects your comfort, your ability to relax, and just plain won’t let you fall asleep. Instead of fighting heartburn symptoms and balancing medicine vs. bedtime each night, consider these healthy, natural alternatives to nip that burning sensation in the bud.