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Tips for night-time heartburn relief

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Symptoms of heartburn during the night include waking up with a bitter taste in the mouth, a chronic cough, sore throat, and fatigue.

Here are top tips for night-time heartburn relief:

Food and drink tips for night-time heartburn relief

  • Reduce heartburn risk by limiting acidic foods such as grapefruit, oranges, tomatoes, and vinegar.
  • Spicy foods giving you heartburn? Cut back on pepper and chillies.
  • Don't lie down for at least three hours after you eat. When you are sitting up, gravity helps prevent food and stomach acid from going up into the gullet (oesophagus) and causing heartburn.
  • Enjoy lean meats and non-fatty foods. Greasy foods - such as chips and burgers - can trigger heartburn.
  • Avoid or reduce drinks that can trigger reflux such as alcohol, drinks with caffeine and fizzy drinks.
  • Size matters - eat smaller meals and you may avoid triggering heartburn symptoms.
  • Enjoy an after-work drink? You may want to turn teetotal - alcohol can relax the oesophageal sphincter, worsening heartburn.
  • Crazy about colas? It may be time to cut back. Colas can be related to reflux and to heartburn symptoms.
  • Avoid snacking at bedtime. Eating close to bedtime can trigger heartburn symptoms.

Lifestyle tips for night-time heartburn relief

  • Steer clear of tight clothes. Tight belts, waistbands and underwear can press on your stomach triggering heartburn.
  • Strive for a less stressful life. Stress may increase stomach acids, increasing heartburn symptoms.
  • Heavy? Try losing weight. The pressure of excess weight increases the chance stomach acid will reflux back up into the oesophagus causing heartburn.
  • Popping antacids more than once a week? You may have GORD and need specific treatment.
  • Try chewing gum at night. This can boost the production of saliva, which helps neutralise stomach acid.
  • Not all "trigger" foods cause heartburn symptoms in everyone. Keep track of your symptoms to find your personal triggers.
  • Pregnant? You may experience heartburn or GORD. Seek medical advice about finding relief.
  • Heartburn worse after exercise? Drink plenty of water. It helps with hydration and digestion.
  • Try keeping a diary or heartburn log to keep track of activities that might trigger attacks.
  • Wait for your work-out if you don't want to trigger heartburn. Wait at least two hours after a meal before exercising.
  • Nicotine can cause your oesophageal sphincter to relax. If you smoke, stop smoking.
  • Some medicines can worsen reflux and heartburn. Seek medical advice about alternatives.
  • Use blocks or bricks under the bedpost to raise the head of your bed 15cm (6in) so you can sleep with head and chest elevated. You can also try a wedge pillow.
  • Bend with your knees. Bending over at the waist tends to increase reflux and heartburn symptoms.
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Reviewed on November 29, 2017

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