Skip to main content

What Causes Heartburn at Night?

< Back to the article list

Heartburn is an irritating, and pretty common, issue, with one in 10 adults experiencing it once a week, and one in three reporting it every month. Have you noticed that sometimes your occasional heartburn is triggered is at night? Most of us associate heartburn with eating a big meal, so it’s kind of confusing when it happens prior to getting some shut-eye — but that may often be the time it strikes for you.

If you’ve ever wondered why you get that occasional uncomfortable burning sensation right after your head hits the pillow, you need to understand what happens to your body when you lie down to go to bed. Read on for some reasons why and some ways to lessen the possibility of dealing with heartburn at night.

Why Lying Down Can Equal Heartburn at Night

Typically, heartburn occurs when a muscle that controls the valve between the esophagus and stomach doesn’t close properly after food passes through. When this muscle, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), doesn’t close all the way, stomach acid can travel back up the esophagus, causing an uncomfortable burning sensation.

When we lay horizontal before a meal has properly digested, gravity can’t help push our food down into our stomachs, which makes it more likely that stomach acids may rise up and cause heartburn.

How to Avoid Heartburn at Night

While it’s often recommended to raise the head of your bed with risers to help gravity keep the stomach acids where they’re supposed to be, it may also be helpful to use a body pillow to help you sleep on your left side with your head elevated. Staying on your left side during the night allows acids to pass through the LES and then into the stomach — and elevating your head helps gravity do its job.

Heartburn at Night Remedies and Relief

A few other methods for avoiding heartburn are waiting at least three hours after eating to lie down; making sure you wear loose, comfortable PJs; avoiding any trigger foods; and for heartburn relief, taking antacids. TUMS chewy bites are a great antacid choice, since TUMS is known as America’s #1 antacid, and all TUMS products contain calcium carbonate, a simple ingredient that does a lot for heartburn relief!

Related articles