Sleep Solutions for Pregnancy Heartburn Relief
Heartburn, a common complaint during pregnancy, most often occurs during the third trimester, according the American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy can make existing gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) worse, or can bring about heartburn if you’ve never had it.
When it comes to sleep solutions, Moms-to-be (and anyone else suffering from GERD) can still get a good night’s sleep by following some simple steps from Dr. Ronnie Fass, the director of Gastroenterology & Hepatology at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
Tips to Combat Heartburn
- Avoid large meals at dinner. “When you eat a large amount of food, it predisposes you to reflux,” says Fass.
- If you take medication for acid reflux, make sure it has time to take effect. “If you take it in the evening, don’t take it at bedtime, but at least a half hour before dinner,” says Fass.
- Elevate the entire head of the bed. A 45-degree angle is optimal, says Fass. A Sleep Number® FlexFit™ adjustable base allows you to set your bed’s desired angle.
- Avoid sleeping on your right side. “The right side is the one considered to be more refluxogenic because of the anatomical relationship between the stomach and the esophagus,” explains Fass. “Any other sleep position is fine.” If you have a tendency to roll onto your right side, placing a body pillow behind your back can keep you turned left.
- Go to sleep as soon as you get in bed. “The longer you stay awake while in bed, the more likely you are to have problems falling into deep sleep. There is evidence that deep sleep inhibits the mechanism behind reflux, so deep sleep is very important in preventing it,” says Fass. So turn off the TV, put away the book, and lights out.
- Practice good sleep hygiene and create an environment where you aren’t bothered by noises, lights or the temptation of electronics.
If you try all these tips and still suffer from insomnia, GERD may not be the problem. You may be trapped in a vicious cycle of experiencing reflux, says Fass, which leads to poor sleep, or experiencing insomnia, which worsens your reflux. You may need to see a medical expert. But before you get that far, a simple good night’s sleep (or two) may help.
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