The Way You Sleep May Help Reduce Heartburn Symptoms

Heartburn aptly describes the burning sensation behind the breastbone that often intensifies after eating, per Mayo Clinic. It can also become worse when you bend over or lie down. When the lower esophageal sphincter doesn't function properly, it allows acid from the stomach to move back up into the bottom of the esophagus, which causes the burning sensation. Spicy or fried foods, onions, alcohol, peppermint, and products made with citrus and tomato could cause heartburn symptoms to become worse. Pregnancy and obesity might also increase the chances of developing heartburn.

Those who struggle with heartburn may have experienced a sleepless night or two because of it. As many as 20% of the U.S. population deals with heartburn, and more than 60% of those that do have trouble falling or staying asleep, according to In addition, 40% of those who have trouble sleeping because of heartburn say that it affects how they function the next day.

Sleeping on your left side may bring relief

If you're looking for ways to help reduce heartburn at night, you might try sleeping on your left side. Evidence supports the idea that sleeping on this side reduces the symptoms of heartburn. One small 2015 study involving 20 people found that sleeping on the left side of their body with their head elevated reduced the amount of acid that travels up the esophagus. Evidence further suggests sleeping on a wedge pillow or on a bed frame in which you can elevate the head of the bed, can also help prevent heartburn. Another review published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that subjects sleeping on their left side experienced fewer symptoms while those sleeping on their right side had more symptoms that lasted longer.

WebMD also recommends not eating two to three hours before bedtime and avoiding laying down for a couple of hours anytime after you eat. You might also cut back on trigger foods and drinks to see if that makes a difference in your symptoms.