Stomach pain can be, well, a pain. Whether it’s because of gas, heartburn, or something else, stomach pain can affect you all day and, even worse, all night. If you’re struggling with stomach pain, you may find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. This can make for a long, uncomfortable night of tossing and turning on a sour stomach.
But, there are some ways to ease stomach pain while you sleep and help you get those much-needed Zzzs. Our in-depth guide offers some great tips for falling asleep with stomach pain as well as the science behind what causes stomach pain. Keep reading to learn more.
Tips For Sleeping With Stomach Pain
While there are many reasons you could be dealing with stomach pain, once you’re lying down and trying to sleep, you’re not worried about the reasons. You want some quick fixes to reduce that pain and let you drift off to sleep. Below you’ll find some great tips to sleep with stomach pain.
Try Sleeping On Your Left Side
As we will discuss below, one of the main reasons for stomach pain is heartburn. Basically, your stomach acid climbs up your esophagus, creating a burning sensation. Thankfully, there is one easy way you may reduce your heartburn during the night – sleep on your left side.
Studies show that sleeping on your left side can reduce heartburn flare-ups. When you are in this position, it relaxes your esophageal sphincter, and allows acid to flow back down your esophagus and into the stomach. In turn, this can help reduce heartburn and stomach pain.
However, when you’re on your side, try to avoid sleeping in the fetal position. This can exacerbate stomach pain caused by heartburn and even gas.
Sleep With Your Head Elevated
Similar to sleeping on your left side, sleeping on your back with your head elevated six to eight inches allows stomach acid to move down the throat and into the stomach. This is another remedy for dealing with heartburn at night.
To prop up your head, you have a few options. You could first try a wedge pillow that is designed to only slightly elevate the head. If you struggle with pain issues or your stomach problems are more chronic, you might invest in an adjustable base. An adjustable base will allow you to elevate the top part of your mattress and give you the perfect angle for reducing heartburn.
What To Do Before Bed
There are also a few things you can do to ease your stomach pain before you hop into bed. First off, stop eating two to three hours before you go to bed. When you eat too close to bedtime, you may still be digesting when you try to sleep. This can lead to gas buildup and heartburn, so give yourself enough time to completely digest.
You can also try wearing loose clothing while you sleep. Tighter clothes put more pressure on your stomach and intestines and can both cause and exacerbate stomach pain.
Stress can also be a cause of stomach pain, so try some relaxation techniques at night. This could include meditation, hypnotherapy, or even Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Whatever relaxes you could relax your stomach as well.
Make Lifestyle Changes During The Day
To really prevent stomach pain, you may need to change the way you eat. Fatty and acidic foods are one of the major causes of heartburn, so a doctor may recommend you cut these out of your diet or at least limit your consumption. Some experts recommend smaller meals with less fat – 500 calories total with only 20 grams of fat. In addition, if you are sensitive to certain foods, that may lead to more stomach pain.
In addition, losing weight can help prevent heartburn. One study shows that having a BMI of 25 or more can increase your chances of heartburn or GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). Subjects who lowered their BMI below 25 had fewer issues with heartburn and GERD.
Lastly, if you are a smoker, it can increase heartburn during the day and night. Smoking also relaxes your esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to enter your esophagus. Cutting back and quitting smoking can seriously decrease heartburn and stomach pain.
Last but not least, you may use medications to ease your stomach pain. You could use an over-the-counter medication like Zantac or Prilosec, or your doctor may prescribe something stronger if your condition is more serious.
What Causes Stomach Pain?
There are a few reasons you may be dealing with stomach pain. Finding the root cause can get you one step closer to relief.
One of the most common causes of stomach pain is gas build-up. This mostly occurs when you swallow air while eating or drinking. However, gas build-up can also happen when undigested fiber in your intestines is fermented by bacteria. Excess gas in your intestines can give you a bubbly, uncomfortable sensation that may become quite painful.
Acid Reflux or Heartburn
As we discussed above, acid reflux (heartburn) is another major cause of nighttime stomach pain. When your esophageal sphincter relaxes, your stomach acids rise into your esophagus, creating a burning sensation.
Heartburn may also be a symptom of GERD, a more serious condition. This occurs when your heartburn symptoms become more chronic and severe. See a doctor or medical professional if your heartburn does not subside after using medication or changing what you eat.
More Serious Conditions
Stomach pain might also be a sign of more serious medical conditions. If you believe you may have one of these conditions, see a doctor for treatment options.
- Ulcers. These are open sores that form in the stomach or intestines. They can cause heartburn and nausea, along with heavy pain, and bloody vomit or stools.
- IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome affects bowel movements and can lead to mucousy stool, diarrhea, or constipation.
- Celiac’s Disease. If you struggle with gluten intolerance, you may have Celiac’s Disease. This damages the small intestine and can cause diarrhea, gas, or stomach pain.
- Crohn’s Disease. This disease also affects the bowels, inflaming them and causing pain and discomfort.
How do you sleep with stomach pain?
If you’re trying to sleep with stomach pain, sleep on your left side. This can reduce heartburn and ease an upset stomach. You can sleep with your head elevated as this will also reduce heartburn.
What causes stomach pain?
Stomach pain can come about for a number of reasons. You may be experiencing heartburn, or you may be struggling with gas build-up. You may also be struggling with indigestion due to something you ate.
What side should you sleep on if you have stomach pain?
It is best to sleep on your left side when you have stomach pain. This relaxes the sphincter at the bottom of your esophagus, allowing acid to return to the stomach.