Have you experienced any of the following symptoms: heartburn, chest pain,
indigestion, chronic coughing, clearing of throat, and post nasal drip upon waking up?
If you answered yes to all the above, then you might have gastroesophageal reflux
GERD can be caused by a lot of things, one of the more common reasons is the
association between your last meal and time of sleeping. In fact, in a text book of the
American College of Gastroenterology, it is recommended that one should refrain from
eating within three hours of going to sleep.
This recommendation is supported by a study conducted among Japanese patients
which showed that those with short dinner-to-bed times was significantly associated
with an increased risk of GERD compared to patients whose dinner-to-bed time was
four hours or more.
Thus, if you have GERD symptoms, sleeping at least three to four hours after the last
meal could be one of the many approaches to relief.
Other things that you can do to help with your GERD include certain lifestyle
modifications that have been advocated to be important in GERD therapy. These
include elevation of the head, cessation of smoking, and avoidance of particular foods
and/or alcoholic drinks, which provokes GERD symptoms. Losing weight for overweight
and obese individuals is also recommended to lessen the GERD symptoms.
These lifestyle modifications have varying benefits towards good control of your GERD
symptoms. It is important to know about these interventions so you can choose for
yourself on how to integrate them into your treatment plan.
Over-the-counter medication such as antacids can also be of help to alleviate the
symptoms of GERD. However, if symptoms still persist it is highly recommended that
you consult a physician.
- Lifestyle modifications that can help with GERD symptoms:
Refrain from eating within three to four hours before going to sleep.
- Elevation of the head of the bed.
- Cessation of smoking.
- Avoidance of particular foods and/or alcoholic drinks which provoke GERD symptoms
- Maintain ideal body weight.
- DeVault, KR, Castell, DO. Updated guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of
gastroesophageal reflux disease. The Practice Parameters Committee of the
American College of Gastroenterology. Am J Gastroenterol 1999;94: 1434–1442.
- Fujiwara et al, Association Between Dinner-to-Bed Time and Gastro-Esophageal
Reflux Disease, The American Journal of Gastroenterology (2005) 100, 2633–2636
- An evidence-based appraisal of reflux disease management. The Genval Workshop
Report. Gut 1999;44 (Suppl 2):S1–S16.
Article published 4 January 2021