top of page

Silent Night No More: Understanding and Preventing Nighttime Acid Reflux

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) often exhibits its most troublesome symptoms at night, disrupting the peacefulness of sleep and causing discomfort. Nighttime acid reflux can be particularly challenging due to a combination of physiological factors that make the symptoms more pronounced. Understanding the causes and implementing practical strategies can significantly alleviate nighttime reflux.

Causes of Nighttime Acid Reflux: Unmasking the Nocturnal Culprits

1. Supine Position: When lying down, especially in a supine position, gravity no longer aids in keeping stomach acid down. This makes it easier for acid to flow back into the esophagus, causing heartburn and other reflux symptoms.

2. Reduced Saliva Production: Saliva acts as a natural acid buffer. During sleep, saliva production decreases, leaving the esophagus more vulnerable to the corrosive effects of stomach acid.

3. Relaxation of Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES): The LES is a muscular ring that separates the esophagus from the stomach. At night, the LES may relax more, allowing acid to escape into the esophagus.

4. Delayed Gastric Emptying: Digestion slows down during sleep, leading to delayed gastric emptying. This means that when reflux occurs, there is a greater volume of stomach contents that can flow back into the esophagus.

Tips for Preventing Nighttime Acid Reflux: A Restful Night Awaits

1. Adjust Sleep Position: Elevating the head of the bed by about 6-8 inches can help reduce the likelihood of acid reflux during the night. This slight incline helps to keep stomach acid where it belongs.

2. Left-Side Sleeping: Sleeping on the left side has been associated with less nighttime reflux. This position helps to keep the junction between the stomach and esophagus above the level of gastric acid.

3. Finish Meals Early: Allow at least two to three hours between your last meal and bedtime. This gives the stomach time to empty, reducing the amount of acid available for reflux.

4. Avoid Trigger Foods Before Bed: Steer clear of foods and beverages known to trigger reflux, such as spicy foods, citrus, chocolate, and caffeinated beverages, especially in the evening.

5. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight can put pressure on the abdomen, promoting the backflow of stomach acid. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can reduce this pressure and alleviate nighttime symptoms.

6. Stay Hydrated: Adequate hydration is crucial, but it's advisable to limit the intake of large volumes of fluids close to bedtime to minimize the risk of reflux.

7. Consider Medications: For persistent nighttime reflux, consult with a healthcare professional who may recommend medications like H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors to reduce stomach acid production.

8. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Stress and lack of sleep can exacerbate reflux symptoms. Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can contribute to better sleep quality and reduced nighttime reflux.


Nighttime acid reflux can be a disruptive and uncomfortable experience, but understanding the causes and implementing practical measures can significantly improve the quality of sleep and alleviate symptoms. Lifestyle modifications, such as adjusting sleep position, avoiding trigger foods, and maintaining a healthy weight, play a pivotal role in preventing nighttime reflux. As always, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance.


  1. Choi Y, Shin CM. Nighttime Acid Reflux in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease - Is It a Problem That Can Be Solved? J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2023 Jan 30;29(1):1-2. doi: 10.5056/jnm22200. PMID: 36606429; PMCID: PMC9837543.

  2. Orr WC. Management of nighttime gastroesophageal reflux disease. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2007 Aug;3(8):605-6. PMID: 21960870; PMCID: PMC3099296.


bottom of page