GERD and Barrett’s Esophagus Linked to Sleep Disturbances

04. 15. 2016

If you’re having difficulty sleeping at night, don’t be too quick to blame your mattress or your pillow; your digestive issues could be the culprit. Patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or Barrett’s esophagus have higher rates of sleep problems, including insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea and sleep disturbances.

In a recent case-controlled study, researchers evaluated the link between GERD, Barrett’s esophagus and poor sleep quality. Study participants consisted of patients who were scheduled for elective upper endoscopy as well as patients scheduled for both colonoscopy and upper endoscopy. Researchers also collected self-reported data pertaining to GERD symptoms, sleep quality, risk of sleep apnea, and endoscopy results.

The study showed that GERD patients had poorer quality of sleep and higher instances of obstructive sleep apnea than patients with Barrett’s esophagus, when compared with a control group. Even when researchers accounted for other factors which can disturb sleep quality, such as smoking, obesity and hypertension, GERD patients still exhibited more sleep issues than Barrett’s esophagus patients and controls.

While the findings of this study did not indicate that Barrett’s esophagus leads to sleep apnea, there is evidence that suggests sleep apnea may cause Barrett’s esophagus. An alternative study consisting of data from the Mayo Clinic found that patients with sleep apnea were 80 percent more likely to develop Barrett’s esophagus. When factors such as gender, age, GERD, body weight, and tobacco use were considered, individuals with sleep apnea were still at higher risk than controls (Source: Bel Marra Health).

While it’s best to seek a doctor’s advice for controlling GERD and sleep disturbances, there are some steps you can take to alleviate your symptoms and help you get a better night’s rest:

  • Lose excess weight. Being overweight is a common risk factor for GERD and sleep apnea.
  • Follow a healthy, low-fat diet. Foods that are fried or high in fat can trigger reflux.
  • Avoid late-night eating. Snacking before bedtime increases the chances of reflux and affects sleep quality.
  • Raise the head of your bed or sleep with a wedge pillow. Sleeping on a slight incline helps reduce nighttime reflux and can alleviate sleep apnea.


Related articles:

Eliminate Late-Night Eating and Say Goodnight to Heartburn

Best Sleeping Position for Heartburn Relief


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