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Get a Good Night's Sleep with GERD

How to Sleep Better with Heartburn

-- By Megan Patrick, Staff Writer
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How to Lift the Head of Your Bed
The easiest way to elevate the head of your bed (at least 4-8 inches is recommended) is to buy two cinder blocks at the hardware store and insert them horizontally under the front two sides of the bed frame. Other options include blocks of wood or bricks. Depending on how your bed is constructed, this set up can vary from extremely stable to a tad precarious. These days, you can find plastic and wooden adjustable bed risers (everywhere from Amazon.com to Target to Bed Bath and Beyond) that are designed to create storage space under the bed. You can use two from the set of four to raise the head of the bed for just a few bucks. The aforementioned study also showed that "bed head elevation significantly reduced esophageal acid exposure and acid clearance time," which is great—but bed head elevation alone isn't enough to resolve all heartburn or sleep-related issues, according to the authors. They recommend elevating the head of your bed as just one component of a heartburn-treatment plan that also includes medication.  

Consider an Adjustable Bed
If you decide that raising the head of your bed is a good answer or addition to your heartburn treatment plan, you might want to consider a more stable solution than risers. Automatic adjustable beds like the Craftmatic Adjustable Bed, can adjust to lift the lower body or, in this case, elevate the head, shoulders and upper back. These types of beds are not inexpensive, however. A more affordable solution is to choose a manually adjustable bed frame. You can find several options on Amazon.com for as little as $220. You may even discover adjustable beds marketed specifically for the relief of reflux symptoms from medical supply companies. They are typically called "reflux bed" or "acid reflux bed." Changing the height of a manually adjustable bed can be easy or challenging depending on the brand and features you choose. But likely, you'll keep it elevated all the time anyway, so the savings will be well worth it.

Can't You Just Prop Yourself up with Pillows?
If you share a bed with someone who doesn't suffer from nighttime heartburn, he or she may not be quick to warm to the idea of sleeping in an elevated position. Your first instinct will be to pile up a bunch of pillows to try to mimic the effect of raising the head of your bed. Research shows, however, that using multiple pillows puts the head at such an angle that the pressure on the stomach can make reflux even worse. You may also find that it increases another kind of pain: neck pain. However, you can buy a specially designed wedge pillow that will elevate not only your head, but your shoulders and upper back as well. A popular wedge pillow that you can find on Amazon.com is the MedSlant Pillow for Acid Reflux. It is a full 32-inches long so that it starts supporting the body at the base of the spine and increases in width to 7 inches at the top of the head. Like the MedSlant, most wedge pillow are made of a supportive foam that won't deflate overnight like a traditional pillow—or cause a pain in the neck when you wake up the next day.

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About The Author

Megan Patrick Megan Patrick
Megan Lane Patrick has been a professional writer and editor for the past 16 years, and was a chronic dieter for at least 30. A combination of weight-loss surgery, mindful eating and daily exercise finally allowed her to maintain a weight loss of more than 100 pounds. When she's not lifting weights at the gym, you can find her walking shelter dogs as a volunteer for the SPCA.

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