Most heartburn sufferers are likely to experience heartburn symptoms at night, but this is not really surprizing as lying down on your bed can often put considerable pressure on your lower esophageal sphincter(LES), as the contents of your stomach press against this valve. If you have a weakened or damaged LES this pressure then causes the LES to fail, allowing the acidic stomach contents to flow back into the esophagus and cause the burning sensation that is stopping you sleeping at night.
One of the simplest home remedies to help prevent reflux or heartburn at night is gravity. By ensuring that your head is higher than your stomach you can prevent the pressure on your LES and keep your evening meal firmly where it belongs, which is of course in your stomach.
You can keep your head elevated either by sleeping in a chair, which many chronic sufferers of heartburn have done in the past not really knowing why this helped prevent their pain and discomfort, or your can make some alterations to your bed that will allow you to sleep in your bed with your head raised above your stomach. There are a couple of ways to adapt your bed, you can just place bricks or sturdy blocks of wood under the legs at the head of the bed or in my view a much more practical option is to use a bed wedge instead.
A bed wedge can be used in two ways. It can either be used on top of your mattress or if it is firm enough can be placed under the mattress instead.
Foam bed wedges come in many sizes and prices and at the lower end of the market the foam bed wedges made by Mabis Healthcare and Duro-Med Industries (DMI) are very popular with a high number of positive reviews on Amazon.com. Their wedges are available in different heights, 7 inches, 10 inches and 12 inches and you can buy the wedges in two colors; the 7″ x 24″ x 24″ comes in white at $28:67 and in blue at $22.61; the 12″ x 24″ x 24″ comes in white at $37:12 and in blue at $40:13. These prices are all considerably less than some of the specialist heartburn pillows that are on the market. If you are travelling a lot you might find an inflatable bed wedge very helpful.
You can also buy plastic wedges which are designed to be placed under your mattress. The Wellness Wedge costs $54.87 and contains two stackable 3″ wedges.
Although I’ve written about bed wedges because they can elevate your head and assist in relieving heartburn you can also use these wedges to
- elevate your feet and legs
- help prevent snoring
- help ease breathing difficulties
- read or watch TV in bed