What causes acid reflux?
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is also commonly referred to as Acid Reflux. This usually occurs whenever the stomach acid flows back into the tube connecting the mouth and the stomach. This condition is often described by people as heartburn.
Digestive fluids and stomach contents may flow back into the esophagus when the sphincter in the esophagus that closes it does not close strongly enough. Because it is not firmly closed, the backwash occurs. When this happens, there is irritation to the linings of the esophagus. A major symptom of acid reflux is the acidic feel in the chest.
You should also bear in mind that this could happen at any time of the day. However, it is not advisable to pick up just any remedy without informing your doctor.
Still, wondering how it affects you and what to do especially when you sleep? Read on.
How Could Acid Flux Contribute to Snoring?
The esophageal sphincter ensures a one-way movement of food from the mouth to the stomach. When this muscle does not close as tightly as it should, stomach acid could climb up to the esophagus. Under normal conditions, the acid only gets to the mid-chest region before gravity causes it to fall again.
However, at night, the acid can travel up the back of the neck to the soft palate. It then irritates the muscles here causing them to swell slightly. As the sizes of these increase, there is a constriction in the airway making breathing difficult when sleeping. This persistent nature of acid reflux causes snoring over time.
Why Does Acid Reflux Get Worse at Night?
If you have acid reflux, you might feel it gets worse at night when you lie to sleep. Well, three things contribute to the severity of acid reflux at night.
- Firstly, the acid’s concentration in your stomach is higher at night.
- Secondly, it is much easier for the acid to reflux in the esophagus when you lie horizontally. In this position, gravity does not affect the body much and your mouth is almost at the same level as your stomach. Thus, food, bile, and acid from the stomach can flow to the esophagus easily.
- Thirdly, we don’t swallow anything while sleeping. When we swallow, the acid that has been brought up the esophagus is taken back down to the stomach. When we swallow, we carry saliva back into our stomachs. Our saliva contains bicarbonates. These bicarbonates serve to neutralize the acid in the esophagus.
What is the Best Sleeping Position for Acid Reflux?
Most people don't realize that sleeping position can directly affect their acid reflux symptoms at night. As we have noted, gravity and anatomy play a major role in the effect of acid reflux at night. So when you know the best positions to sleep, you would be able to reduce the effects of acid reflux at nightAvoid Sleeping flat on your back
Remember we noted that gravity does not help against acid reflux when we are lying down. When you lie down flat, you create an easy gradient for the acid to flow to your esophagus, magnifying the effect at night.
One easy way to prevent this is to ensure you are not lying flat. Instead, you could use a mattress lifter or a pillow to create the right lift for your head.Sleep on your left-side instead
Sleeping on the left side has several benefits such as aiding digestion, improving brain health, reduced snoring, and reduction in heartburn. Since we are lying down, it is easier to let gravity do most of the work here.
Internally, some organs such as the stomach are located on the left side. When you lie with your left, you place the stomach and its content at a lower level than the esophagus making upward travel difficult.
If you suspect that your acid reflux is what causes snoring, sleeping on your left side could also help. Several things such as the tongue falling into the throat could cause obstruction and difficulty in breathing when sleeping. Lying on your side ensures your tongue does not block your breathing path.
Other lifestyle choices that can help reduce acid reflux even at night
Even with a good sleeping position, certain habits must be avoided to help you reduce the effects of acid reflux. Here are several things you could easily do.
- Certain types of food such as alcohol, smoke, spicy foods, and fatty foods can trigger acid reflux.
- It is also wise to steer clear of fruits such as citrus, tomatoes, and caffeinated drinks. These should be avoided as much as possible especially when it is close to bedtime.
- Eat little more constant meals
- Make sure you eat enough vegetables and oatmeal.
- Try to chew food gently but thoroughly. It makes the food smaller and much easier to digest.
- Always try to time everything right. It is advised that you at least wait for about three hours after eating before lying down.
Snoring could be caused by acid reflux. As the acid flows up the esophagus, it could damage the lining and make breathing, especially at night difficult. Following the guidelines above, you should experience fewer troubles when you sleep. Nevertheless, it is always advisable to get advice from your physician.