How to Stop Acid Reflux at Night: Sleeping With Acid Reflux

November 27, 2023 | Casper Editorial Team

Fact checked by Jonathan Eilenberg, CPE

Sleep on your left slide with your head and torso elevated in order to reduce acid reflux and GERD symptoms at night.

If you suffer from chronic acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you probably dread nighttime symptoms. In particular, trying to figure out how to sleep with acid reflux can be a real conundrum, as it causes restlessness at night for many.

Quality sleep has a value that can’t be understated when it comes to healing the body and refreshing your mind for the next day. If your heartburn and acid reflux are preventing you from getting the sleep you deserve, the sleep experts at Casper are here to help.

In this thorough examination, we’ll dive into the common dietary and lifestyle triggers of acid reflux, recommending the following tips for how to stop acid reflux at night:

  • Change up your meal timing
  • Adopt an optimal sleeping position
  • Adapt new changes to your lifestyle to improve your overall health
  • Consult your healthcare provider for quality medications and treatments

Understanding Acid Reflux and Its Impact on Sleep

If your acid reflux is a frequent visitor, you may already know all about how and why it occurs. But if your family member or friend is dealing with acid reflux, or you want to know more about the implications of the condition at nighttime, keep reading for a deep dive into what acid reflux is and its connection to sleep.

What is Acid Reflux and Why Does it Occur?

Acid reflux occurs when the food and acid in your stomach travel in the wrong direction, from the stomach back through the esophagus to the throat.1

Acid reflux can be caused by many factors, including but not limited to2:

  • Acidic or high-fat foods like tomatoes, cheese, citrus fruits, chocolate, and coffee
  • Spicy foods
  • Large meals
  • Aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Being pregnant

If you deal with acid reflux regularly, you may be dealing with GERD. But what exactly is GERD, and how does it affect sleep?

The Connection Between GERD and Disrupted Sleep

If you experience heartburn more than twice a week, this may be a sign of having GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) — a more severe type of acid reflux.1 

Common symptoms of GERD include heartburn, shortness of breath, chest pain, and trouble swallowing.1 Any of these can impact your sleep quality and either keep you up later or wake you up in the middle of the night. Waking up with a dry, clogged throat or difficulty breathing is the last thing you need when you’re trying to drift off into a peaceful sleep.

The Dangers of Nighttime Acid Reflux: Choking and Aspiration

A report by William C. Orr, Ph.D. states that 70-75% of individuals with GERD reported nighttime heartburn, and 40% of those reported that their sleep was disrupted by their heartburn symptoms.3 

According to the same report, these individuals reported waking up choking, coughing, or regurgitating from an acidic or sour taste in their mouth.3 To protect yourself against these dangers and more nighttime symptoms of GERD, it’s vital to understand the causes of acid reflux and what can make the condition flare up at night especially.

Causes of Nighttime Acid Reflux

Numerous factors cause difficulties sleeping while impacted by acid reflux and/or GERD. Below we’ll detail the most common causes of nighttime acid reflux so you can learn how to stop it in its nighttime tracks.

The Role of Gravity and the Horizontal Sleeping Position

Because acid reflux is caused by the acid and food in your stomach traveling backward through your esophagus to your mouth, this can be exacerbated by the natural power of gravity.

Lying down allows stomach acid to move more easily into the esophagus, and since most people sleep lying down, these symptoms can easily flare up in bed.2 Consider a bed mattress that properly supports your preferred sleeping posture.

Decreased Swallowing and Reduced Saliva Production at Night

The amount of saliva you produce while asleep dramatically diminishes compared to waking hours.4 That’s why that glass of water looks so refreshing the moment you wake up and turn to look at your bedside table. 

This phenomenon is amplified for individuals with acid reflux and GERD since their mouths are more susceptible to irritation from stomach acid. If your mouth is dry and lacking protective saliva, the heartburn at night can be that much more irritating. 

Weakness of the Lower Esophageal Sphincter

The lower esophageal sphincter is a valve connecting your esophagus with your stomach.2 When this valve is weakened or flawed in certain individuals, the sensation of heartburn occurs through the leaking of stomach acid into the esophagus.2

If you experience heartburn symptoms at night, particularly when lying down or trying to sleep, it may be because of a weakened lower esophageal sphincter. 

Dietary and Lifestyle Triggers

Minimize your chances of experiencing nighttime acid reflux symptoms by learning the common triggers and understanding how to avoid them.

Common Foods and Drinks that Exacerbate GERD Symptoms

Diet can impact your likelihood of acid reflux. The following foods and drinks are all high in fat and/or acidic and have higher potential risks to trigger GERD symptoms5:

  • Onions
  • Tomatoes or tomato products, like ketchup
  • Citrus fruits and products
  • Fatty and/or fried foods
  • Peppermint
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Coffee and caffeinated beverages

Reducing your consumption of these foods, especially at night, will help your keep your daily routines and sweet dreams uninterrupted by GERD and acid reflux symptoms.

The Impact of Large Meals and the Timing of Food Consumption

Avoiding the specific foods that cause your acid reflux to flare up isn’t the only change you should make to your diet if you have GERD or experience frequent acid reflux.

According to Cedars-Sinai, eating smaller, more frequent meals is the key to avoiding acid reflux.2 The timing of these meals is also crucial; it’s recommended to wait at least 2-3 hours after your last meal before going to bed or lying down.2

The Influence of Stress, Smoking, and Obesity on GERD

Your daily habits and lifestyle could have a larger impact on your GERD than you think. If you are experiencing a lot of stress daily from your work or home life, studies show that this can exacerbate GERD symptoms. Emotional stress can increase acid production in the stomach, aggravating GERD by causing acid to rise up into the esophagus.6

Daily cigarette smoking can also be a trigger, as it relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter, which can again allow acid from the stomach to make its way to the esophagus.2 Being overweight is an additional risk as extra weight on your body can increase pressure on the abdomen and stomach, therefore forcing stomach acid to travel the wrong way.2

Practical Tips to Prevent Acid Reflux at Night

The following tips from the Sleep Specialists at Casper are designed to maximize your nighttime comfort, promote nighttime heartburn relief, and reduce the risk of GERD symptom flare-ups while achieving quality sleep.

Optimal Sleeping Positions: Elevating the Head and Sleeping on the Left Side

A 2015 study found that significantly less esophageal acid exposure occurred when participants slept on their left side with their head and torso elevated.7 If you wake up frequently due to GERD symptoms, try adopting this position to potentially reduce your risk of reflux episodes, as well as sleep more soundly throughout the night.

Be sure to sleep with a proper pillow, like a body pillow, for example, as sleeping without a pillow can exacerbate your symptoms.

The Role of Clothing: Choosing Loose-Fitting Attire

Tight clothing, such as shapewear or tight-fitting clothing can contribute to the occurrence of acid reflux by placing additional pressure on the stomach, forcing gastric acid into the esophagus.8 Especially at night and in bed, consider wearing loose-fitting attire if you suffer from GERD. It will take undo pressure off of your stomach and esophagus, potentially allowing a sounder sleep.

Lifestyle Changes: Quitting Smoking, Managing Stress, and Maintaining a Healthy Weight

As discussed earlier, smoking, stress, and carrying additional weight are all risks for additional occurrences of acid reflux. You can reduce your risk by eliminating the foods in your diet that trigger acid reflux and adjusting your meals to promote healthy weight loss. 

Quitting smoking can also improve your chances of reducing nighttime heartburn. In addition, to better manage your stress, consider relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and exercise throughout the day.6

Consider a Zero-Gravity Bed or Adjustable Bed Frame

Your bed can be a powerful ally when it comes to combating acid reflux at night. An adjustable bed frame or a zero-gravity bed can significantly enhance your sleeping posture, providing the recommended elevation for your head and torso. This sleeping arrangement can mimic the position found beneficial in the 2015 study, aiding in reducing esophageal acid exposure and reflux episodes.

The zero-gravity position, originally developed for astronauts, distributes your weight evenly and can help decrease the pressure on your abdomen, thus preventing gastric acids from traveling back into the esophagus. An adjustable bed frame allows for easy customization of your sleeping angle, which can also help keep acid down in your stomach where it belongs. By investing in such a bed, you not only gain the potential to reduce GERD symptoms but also improve overall sleep quality, making it a worthy consideration for anyone struggling with nighttime acid reflux.

Medications and Treatments

Modern medicine can be another source of relief in the struggle against nighttime acid reflux. Exploring some of these medical solutions with the proper guidance from a medical professional can prove beneficial in unlocking your best sleep with acid reflux.

Over-The-Counter Solutions: Antacids, H2 Blockers, and Proton Pump Inhibitors

Some potential heartburn solutions are available over-the-counter for your convenience at your local pharmacy. Antacids, as the name would suggest, work quickly to reduce the acid in your stomach to relieve symptoms of heartburn and indigestion — it’s important to note, however, that they do not treat the underlying causes of acid reflux.9

Additionally, H2 blockers work similarly by reducing the amount of stomach acid secreted by glands in the lining of your stomach, relieving acid reflux.10 As another option, proton pump inhibitors also work to reduce the amount of stomach acid made by these glands, which may have the same effect.11

Since these medications don’t address the deeper causes of GERD, such as diet or overweightness, it’s important to incorporate lifestyle changes such as exercise and dietary adjustments into your daily routine as well. As always, consult with your healthcare provider to determine if any specific acid reflux treatment medication is right for you.

How We Ensure a Restful Night at Casper

As a leader in innovative sleep technology, our sleep products are designed to give you the edge in achieving restful sleep when you need it most. Suffering from acid reflux or GERD doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a healthy sleep routine to mitigate your symptoms.

Products worth considering for maximal comfort and serenity at night include the Orthopedic Mattress — Casper’s most supportive mattress for maximum relief — and our cooling memory foam pillow, the perfect bed pillow for the recommended left-side elevated sleep position for minimizing acid reflux.

Discover the products you need to enhance your sleep experience in our collection, whether it’s a new mattress, pillow, or set of cooling sheets enhanced with premier sleep technology. Visit today and chat with one of our Sleep Specialists for assistance in achieving the sleep of your dreams.


  1. NIH MedicinePlus Magazine. Acid reflux, Heartburn, and GERD: What’s the difference?
  2. Cedars-Sinai. Heartburn and Acid Reflux: What You Need to Know.
  3. National Library of Medicine. Management of Nighttime Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
  4. National Library of Medicine. The significance of saliva during sleep and the relevance of oromotor movements.
  5. Mayo Clinic. Heartburn.
  6. Harvard Health. Could stress be making my acid reflux worse?
  7. PubMed. A Novel Sleep Positioning Device Reduces Gastroesophageal Reflux: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
  8. Health Digest. Does Tight Clothing Really Cause Heartburn?
  9. Cleveland Clinic. Antacid.
  10. MedicinePlus. H2 blockers.
  11. Medicine Plus. Proton pump inhibitors.