Insomnia can be a direct result of acid reflux, due to the uncomfortable burning chest pains that keep you awake at night. Anxiety or stress can also contribute to both acid reflux and poor sleep.
If you suffer from acid reflux, but also take sleeping pills to help combat insomnia, then you might find an increase in the intensity and occurrence of acid reflux.
Studies show that you could be doing more harm than good by the use of sleeping pills. Luckily, there are some natural remedies that can help you get through both acid reflux and insomnia without the unwanted side effects of medication.
Why Sleeping Pills Increase Acid Reflux?
In your waking hours, you may not notice but you frequently swallow which helps to produce saliva. Saliva is beneficial in many functions throughout the body, but particularly for acid reflux, as it helps to flush out any stomach acid that has made its way into the esophagus.
While sleeping, saliva levels dramatically decrease while you rest but not entirely. Throughout the night, you frequently stir and in turn swallow in your often brief wake periods. However, sleeping pills eliminate those small but important moments, where your body has a chance to flush away the stomach acid that lingers in your esophagus.
In one study of 16 GERD patients, they were given either a popular sleeping pill Ambien ® or placebo to test the effects. The results showed the sleeping pills caused patients to sleep through any reflux, that would otherwise wake them and trigger a swallowing response. This and further studies suggest the risk of further disease is accelerated with the use of sleeping pills.
Sleeping through reflux events increases your night-time acid exposure, which greatly increases the damage done to the sensitive lining of the esophagus. Further studies also note acid reflux events increase with the use of sleep medication such as benzodiazepines.
What are The Natural Alternatives to Sleeping Pills?
First, it’s best to look at ways to reduce night time reflux, to increase your quality of sleep. This includes avoiding late night meals and trigger foods, reducing stress and sleeping in particular positions to reduce acid reflux. Some natural sleeping pill alternatives include:
Kava has been used medicinally for centuries to help reduce anxiety and stress, relax muscles and prepare you for a good night’s sleep. While the traditional kava drink has quite an unpleasant taste, you can alternatively find dried kava in supplement form.
A sedative herb that has also been used across the ages to assist in better sleep. While studies are limited, valerian shows promise in decreasing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
You may already know melatonin as the hormone that regulates sleep, but it also protects the digestive tract. Studies even recommend its use in the treatment of GERD.
To conclude, while warnings have always been issued with sleeping pills, recent evidence shows that, in particular, they should not be used by people who suffer from acid reflux.
When you focus on changing your night-time activities around eating and sleeping, along with taking natural sleep-aids, you’ll find this to be a much better holistic approach than taking sleeping pills.