Fight heartburn and reflux: the best sleeping positions

imagem mulher com mão no peito desconfortável com azia e refluxo

In the midst of the rush of everyday life, we often forget how the quality of our sleep can also directly influence our digestive health. Who has never had that uncomfortable feeling of heartburn or reflux at bedtime? The good news is that we can make simple choices to improve this scenario, and one of them is directly related to the position in which we sleep.

Heartburn and reflux: what are they?

Heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux are two common and sometimes disturbing discomforts that can arise when we are preparing to rest. 

Heartburn is a burning or stinging sensation that appears in the upper part of the abdomen, usually behind the breast bone. This discomfort arises when stomach acid returns to the esophagus, irritating it. Since the esophagus does not have the same protection against acid as the stomach, this burning sensation appears.

In turn, gastroesophageal reflux is the involuntary movement of stomach acid back into the esophagus. This can happen when the lower esophageal sphincter - a kind of "valve" between the esophagus and the stomach - does not close properly. Stomach acid can irritate the lining of the esophagus, resulting in symptoms such as heartburn, acid regurgitation, and chest discomfort.

Main causes

Heartburn and reflux are common problems that can have different causes, often related to eating habits, lifestyle and medical conditions. Between them: 

  • Sleeping position: Sleeping on a full stomach or lying down right after a meal can increase the likelihood of heartburn and reflux. Later on we will talk about the best sleeping positions to avoid these two discomforts;
  • Meal times: Eating heavy meals or snacks just before bed can increase the production of acid in the stomach, favoring reflux;
  • Food and drinks: Certain foods and drinks such as coffee, chocolate, spicy foods, tomatoes and fatty foods can create stomach discomfort;
  • Obesity: Excess weight can put pressure on the stomach, leading to heartburn and reflux.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women may experience reflux more frequently and easily due to the additional pressure on the stomach caused by the growing uterus.

How to deal with heartburn during pregnancy? 

grávida com azia

Among the common experiences during pregnancy, the biggest complaints center on the emergence of heartburn. This discomfort mainly appears in the first trimester of pregnancy and can sometimes persist throughout the entire pregnancy. 

Heartburn may be more frequent at bedtime, when restful sleep is essential for the future mother's well-being. A real nightmare!

Hormonal changes, direct pressure from the growing uterus on the stomach and sleeping position may be some of the main causes of heartburn.

Tackling heartburn at bedtime during pregnancy can be challenging. However, some simple strategies can help alleviate this discomfort:

  • Small meals: Choose to eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day instead of large meals, so as not to overload your stomach;
  • Avoid certain foods: Fatty, spicy, citrus foods, tomatoes, foods with high caffeine content or chocolate should be avoided or consumed in moderation;
  • Chew well: Chewing food thoroughly helps with digestion and can reduce the likelihood of heartburn;
  • Avoid lying down immediately after eating: After meals, waiting at least two hours before going to sleep helps prevent acid reflux;
  • Drink fluids between meals: Large amounts of liquids should be avoided during meals. Choosing to drink water between meals can help with digestion.
  • Try taking stomach protectors: This type of medication can help prevent certain discomforts. However, before taking any type of medication during pregnancy, you should always consult a doctor!

In what position should we sleep for better digestion?

Sleeping in a position that promotes comfort and digestive health is super important to ensure a good night's sleep. Different positions offer specific benefits for digestion, helping to prevent problems such as heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux. 

  • Sleep on the left side

Sleeping on the left side is often recommended to improve digestion. In this position, the stomach and pancreas are down, allowing gastric juices to flow naturally toward the intestine. 

Additionally, the left-side position can relieve pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, reducing the likelihood of heartburn and reflux.

  • Fetal position

The fetal position is another option that can benefit digestion and prevent discomfort at bedtime. In this position, which consists of lying the body on one side with the knees bent towards the chest, the esophagus is elevated in relation to the stomach, which can help prevent reflux.

  • Keep your head elevated

Raise your head using a high pilow (or with the help of several) is another good tip to prevent reflux at night. By keeping the head elevated in relation to the stomach, gravity helps prevent stomach acid from flowing back into the esophagus.

Placing extra pillows under your head can provide a lot of relief, but it's important to ensure a gentle tilt to avoid neck strain.

What positions to avoid?

Just as there are positions that can benefit digestion and prevent problems such as heartburn and reflux, there are also those that can worsen these discomforts. Avoiding certain positions during sleep is crucial to maintaining digestive health and promoting a restful night's sleep. 

Sleeping on your stomach: Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended for good digestion. This position puts direct pressure on the stomach, which can result in discomfort and heartburn. Furthermore, it is a position that can make breathing difficult, especially for those who suffer from respiratory problems.

Sleeping with the head too low: Sleeping with your head in a very low position can contribute to reflux, causing stomach acids to move easily into the esophagus. Choose pilows that provide adequate support for the head and neck can help maintain a higher position.

By avoiding these positions when sleeping, it is possible to significantly reduce the risk of discomfort related to digestion during sleep. Choosing an appropriate position is essential to promote not only digestive well-being, but also the general quality of sleep. 


At Colmol, our priority is the satisfaction of those looking to improve their night's rest through effective and quality products. Our Team of Sleep Specialists provides personalized advice daily, adapted to the needs of each client who seeks us. 

If you are looking for this specialized help, you can contact us directly at::

  • call +351 300 600 110
  • or send us your questions to

We are always available to help you… and your sleep 🧡

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