What are the symptoms of heartburn?
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The festive period brings with it rich food, the offer of plenty of fizzy and alcoholic drinks, plus snacks and treats such as chocolate and cheese. However, this does come with a downside. A combination of this rich diet, a hectic schedule and a late night could leave you with some serious acid reflux or heartburn.
But one expert has revealed that sleeping on one particular side could address some of these problems.
Ashley Hainsworth, director of Bed Kingdom, said: “Sleeping positions are very much a personal choice.
“Some like being on their back, while others prefer lying on their front as they try to doze off.
“But there are some specific advantages to the pose you assume when getting in between the sheets.”
The best position to avoid heartburn
He recommended sleeping on your left side
“When it comes to minimising the unwanted effects of acid reflux, sleeping on your side is the one to go for – and more specifically on your left side.”
The main reason for this is gravity.
Due to the arrangement of organs in the body, sleeping on your left hand side means it will be easier to transfer food through the colon.
There is also a theory that lying on that side over the right ensures the stomach and gastric juices will sit lower than the oesophagus while you are asleep – thus limiting the risk of acid reflux.
Mr Hainsworth said: “While it can be tricky to change your sleep position if you are used to lying in a certain way, it’s well worth making the effort if it means you won’t be troubled by heartburn during the night.
“It’s also worth propping yourself up slightly with an extra pillow, as this will also ensure that the stomach is lying lower in the bed than your oesophagus.”
Causes of acid reflux
Reflux occurs when acid from the stomach travels up towards the throat.
The two main symptoms are heartburn – a painful sensation in the chest – and a nasty aftertaste.
While there are a number of potential causes, the excess of the festive season is a perfect storm for acid reflux symptoms to manifest themselves.
This is because rich foods such as chocolate, coffee and spicy dishes, plus alcohol and late nights are all noted as contributing factors.
Stress, caused by last-minute Christmas shopping trips and having to deal with a houseful of relatives, can also play a part.
According to the NHS, other symptoms of acid reflux can include:
- A cough or hiccups that keep coming back
- A hoarse voice
- Bad breath
- Bloating and feeling sick.
“Symptoms are often worse after eating, when lying down and when bending over,” it says.
To avoid it the health body recommends:
- Eating smaller, more frequent meals
- Raising the head end of your bed by up to 20cm, so your chest and head are above the level of your waist
- Losing weight if you’re overweight
- Trying to find ways to relax.
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