Acid reflux at night may be associated with pregnancy, hernia, and eating certain foods close to your bedtime. Prevention may include medications and lifestyle changes.

If you frequently experience acid reflux, you may be aware that symptoms may worsen when you’re trying to sleep.

Lying flat doesn’t allow gravity to help move food and acids down the esophagus and through your digestive system, so the acid can pool in place.

Learn more about strategies that could help reduce the frequency and intensity of acid reflux, as well as minimize the complications that accompany the condition at night.

Treatment for mild or infrequent bouts of acid reflux may include one or more of the following strategies:

Try OTC or prescription medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications could help relieve acid reflux symptoms like heartburn. These may include:

If these don’t provide relief from your symptoms of acid reflux, speak with a healthcare professional. They may recommend a stronger prescription medication.

Avoid food and drink triggers

Some foods and beverages may trigger acid reflux, including:

Triggers will vary for each person. A 2021 review also found the current research on foods and beverages commonly associated with acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is mixed. In some studies, foods triggered symptoms, while in others, they had no effect.

Keep track of symptoms

Keeping a food diary could help you identify and manage potential trigger foods. Bringing this journal to a doctor’s appointment could help them better understand your condition and develop a specific treatment plan.

In your journal, consider writing:

  • what and when you eat
  • what symptoms occur (if any), and when
  • how long your symptoms last

Know your medication side effects

Certain medications may contribute to acid reflux and GERD, including:

If these or other medications are causing acid reflux or other symptoms of GERD, speak with a doctor. They could modify your dose or suggest an alternative treatment.

Reduce stress

Stress has been associated with increasing acid reflux and symptoms of GERD.

Some stress reduction techniques may help reduce symptoms, such as:

Maintain a moderate weight

Obesity or overweight has also been associated with GERD and acid reflux. Extra weight, especially around the abdomen, may put pressure on the stomach and lead to acid spilling up into the esophagus.

Sometimes, weight loss could help reduce symptoms. Speak with a doctor to see if they recommend this for you.

Some ways to help prevent acid reflux at night may include:

  • sleeping with your head elevated
  • sleeping on your left side
  • eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day
  • trying different foods
  • chewing food slowly and thoroughly
  • not eating at least 3 hours before lying down or going to bed
  • improving your posture
  • quitting smoking, if you smoke
  • avoiding tight clothing
  • taking an easy walk after dinner

Speak with a healthcare professional if these tips don’t help. They could recommend OTC treatments or prescription medications.

When you eat or drink, the band of muscle at the bottom of your esophagus – known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) – relaxes and allows the contents to flow into your stomach.

The LES then closes and stomach acid starts to break down whatever you just consumed.

If the LES becomes weak or relaxes abnormally, stomach acid can move back up through the LES and irritate the lining of the esophagus. This could cause symptoms of acid reflux.

The exact cause of why this happens isn’t yet known, but researchers have identified several risk factors, including:

Learn more about the causes of acid reflux and GERD.

When is acid reflux GERD?

If you experience acid reflux several times per week, you may have GERD. Unlike infrequent acid reflux episodes, GERD is a condition that may require long-term medical treatment.

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How do I stop acid reflux at night?

Some ways to help stop acid reflux at night include taking OTC medications, sleeping with your head elevated, eating smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day, and reducing stress.

What causes acid reflux only at night?

If you experience acid reflux only at night, it may be due to lying down too soon after eating.

What can I drink for acid reflux?

Some beverages for acid reflux may include water, herbal teas, plant-based milk, and coconut water.

While avoiding acid reflux is ideal, managing symptoms before bedtime can make sleeping easier and prevent ongoing irritation of the esophagus at night.

If you know a particular food may trigger acid reflux, try to avoid it, especially at dinner. And if you have success easing acid reflux with antacids or other medications, be sure to take them well in advance of bedtime.

If you still have symptoms, prop up the head of your sleeping surface as much as possible to help you sleep.