Soda and Sleeping Pills Increase Nighttime Heartburn

Avoiding soda pop and prescription sleeping pills may help reduce your risk for nighttime heartburn.

Heartburn is a common symptom of acid reflux, when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus. Heartburn and reflux that occur at night can be especially dangerous because it subjects the esophagus to prolonged exposure to damaging acids. In addition to increasing the risk for certain types of cancer, nighttime heartburn can also interfere with regular sleep patterns, which can affect how a person feels and functions during the day.

In an effort to understand which factors trigger nighttime heartburn, researchers reviewed questionnaires about sleep habits completed by over 15,000 people from different areas of the United States. Nearly 25 percent of the respondents reported that they were awakened by heartburn pain at least twice a month. The questionnaire looked at lifestyle and demographic information about the participants and found common risk factors that seemed to contribute to nighttime heartburn.

Risk factors for nighttime heartburn included:

  • Drinking carbonated soft drinks (which have a very high acidity level)
  • Use of benzodiazepines, prescription anti-anxiety medications often prescribed as a sleep aid (including Valium and Xanax)
  • Being overweight
  • Asthma
  • High blood pressure

Researchers concluded that avoiding soft drinks and sleep aids and losing weight could reduce the frequency of nighttime heartburn.

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