Does Sleeping in a Recliner Help Acid Reflux?

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When trying to sleep at night, have you ever had an uncomfortable burning feeling in your chest, creeping up towards your neck? If so, you might suffer from acid reflux, or GERD. Because this condition can cause discomfort during sleep, many are considering sleeping in a recliner to help acid reflux.

Does sleeping in a recliner help acid reflux? Yes, sleeping in a recliner may help with acid reflux. Sleeping in a recliner with a partially upright torso has been known to decrease the frequency of acid reflux episodes while allowing your body to clear acid reflux at a faster rate.

With that in mind, there are many considerations when it comes to sleeping in a recliner to help acid reflux. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at how sleeping in a recliner can help fight GERD. But first, let’s quickly go over the symptoms and causes of acid reflux to better understand the condition.

What is Acid Reflux and GERD?

So, first things first. What is acid reflux? Acid reflux happens when stomach contents flow up from the stomach back into the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, stomach pain, and burping. This condition is also known as acid regurgitation or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD for short).

Acid reflux is quite common in the United States. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), about 20 percent of people in the US suffer from GERD. Acid reflux is not to be taken lightly, because it can cause serious complications if it’s left untreated.

What are the symptoms of acid reflux?

These are some of the most common symptoms of acid reflux:

  1. Burning feeling in your chest - This discomfort can radiate up towards your neck. This is more commonly known as heartburn.

  2. Sour or bitter taste at the back of your mouth - This feeling can cause food or liquid regurgitation from your stomach to your mouth.

  3. Difficulty swallowing - In more severe cases, this can lead to difficulty in breathing. This can also lead to excessive burping.

What causes acid reflux?

Acid reflux happens when the esophagus doesn’t operate properly. The esophagus is a hollow muscular tube that transports saliva, liquids, and foods from the mouth to the stomach. When the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) doesn’t tighten or close properly, the contents of your stomach can move up into your esophagus.

Does Sleeping in a Recliner Help Acid Reflux?

If you have a poorly functioning LES, the first thing you should do is to consult your doctor or physician. Getting a proper diagnosis should be your number one priority, as it will allow you to get the right treatment plan. 

With that in mind, sleeping in a recliner does help with acid reflux. In addition to fighting acid reflux, sleeping in a recliner has been known to help with sleep apnea, fight back pain, and provide a better quality of sleep. This is because the adjustability provided by a recliner can suit a variety of different needs.

There’s a reason why it feels so good to relax in a recliner after a long day of work. Not only does it support your back, but a well-positioned recliner can allow gravity to naturally reduce stress and inflammation. This, in turn, can lead to better breathing, and thus, an improved digestion.

PRO TIP:​ Helping to fight acid reflux is just one of the many benefits offered by a recliner chair. For the complete list of the advantages and disadvantages of sleeping in a recliner, be sure to read our article on the pros and cons of sleeping in a recliner. We’ve made sure to provide you with the best information for better sleeping comfort.

1. Does sleeping sitting up help acid reflux?

So, does sleeping sitting up help acid reflux? Yes, sleeping sitting up can help fight acid reflux symptoms. Studies have shown that sleeping while sitting up helps lower the frequency of acid reflux and clear it at a faster rate. As long as your torso is elevated, you are leveraging the power of gravity to return reflux to your stomach.

Let’s discuss how acid reflux happens during sleep.

In a nutshell, the food you eat will travel down the esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). It will then enter your stomach where digestion begins.

Normally, this isn’t a major issue when you’re standing up. Things get more complicated when you lie down horizontally to sleep at night. A poorly functioning LES can allow acidic stomach contents to flow ‘escape’ into the esophagus. 

With that said, you can try sleeping in a recliner with a slight incline to find better comfort when sleeping, especially if you’re dealing with acid reflux. If you find it too uncomfortable to sleep sitting up, we’ll go over the ideal position to sleep to fight acid reflux in the next section.

2. What is the best position to sleep if you have acid reflux?

Ultimately, it all comes down to: what is the best position to sleep if you have acid reflux? The best position to sleep if you have acid reflux is to sleep on your left side with a slight incline. Studies have shown better results when sleeping on your  left side, as compared to on your right side or on your back.

Sleeping on your left side with a slight incline has been known to help reduce acid reflux symptoms.

According to the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, this ideal sleeping position (sleeping on your left side with a slight incline) makes refluxing almost impossible because your LES becomes well-positioned above the level of stomach contents. Best of all, if you do reflux, gravity can help return the contents back to your stomach.

This is where a recliner chair can help you out. While a regular bed only allows you to sleep horizontally, a recliner can provide a slight incline. By raising the position of your head slightly, you can achieve the ideal sleeping position, all the while sleeping on your left side. You can then readjust the incline to your liking.

PRO TIP: If you’re considering a recliner to help fight acid reflux, it’s paramount to choose the right chair. With so many options out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Be sure to read our top 5 review of the best recliner chairs for your health to help you make the best buying decision. You’ll be sure to find comfort sooner than later.

Bottom Line

And there you have it, a simple post to answer: Does sleeping in a recliner help acid reflux? Sleeping is an underrated component in overall daily productivity. If sleeping in a recliner can help you obtain a better sleep, chances are that you will have a better day working at the office the next day.

Remember, how you position yourself at night can go a long way towards reducing your acid reflux symptoms while protecting you from the harmful effects of refluxed stomach acid. Here’s to a good night sleep. Cheers! 🙂