Sleep Quality Negatively Impacted By GERD
GERD is a typically characterized by acid reflux, stomach acid splashing back up into the esophagus, that occurs more than twice per week. It can cause significant pain and discomfort as well as damage to the esophagus.
People who suffer from GERD can also experience problems with sleep quality. Attempts to address sleep problems may actually make GERD worse.
GERD sufferers often have problems falling and staying asleep because of painful symptoms of the disease. For many people, the heartburn sensation is made worse by laying down, which can cause stomach acid to sit in the esophagus for longer periods of time. One study found that acid reflux that occurred at night resulted in sleep arousal 89 percent of the time.
Some people will turn to sleeping pills to address their sleep problems. Unfortunately, this may actually make GERD worse.
When subjects in one study took a sleep medication, they were less likely to wake up when acid reflux occurred. However, the acid reflux events lasted for much longer when patients didn’t wake up. Acid reflux events lasted about seven to 15 minutes in patients who didn’t wake up after taking a sleeping pill, compared to events lasting only about 20 to 55 seconds in patients who didn’t take a sleeping pill and were awakened slightly by reflux symptoms.
When acid reflux lasts longer, it means that acid is sitting in the esophagus for a longer period of time, potentially causing more damage to the lining of the esophagus and increasing the risk for cancer of the esophagus.
While treating nighttime arousal caused by GERD with a sleeping pill doesn’t appear to be the best course of action, negative sleep quality brings about its own negative consequences.
GERD symptoms that occur at night can make it difficult for many sufferers to fall asleep and stay asleep.
One survey of 11,685 GERD patients showed that 88.9% experienced nighttime symptoms, 68.3% reported sleep difficulties of some kind. Negative sleep quality can result in decreased health-related quality of life, as well as create a significant economic burden.
How Does Negative Sleep Quality From GERD Create An Economic Burden?
- Increased health costs – sleep difficulties often lead to increased doctor’s visits. One study shows an increase of
- Decreased productivity at work – lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can make you less effective during the day and have a negative impact on your job performance.
The combination of higher health care costs and decreased productivity during the work day can create a significant economic burden for GERD sufferers. It’s important to take these costs into consideration when looking at the financial costs of treating GERD with diet and lifestyle changes, medication or surgery.
It’s also important that patients and physicians specifically address nighttime GERD symptoms in their treatment plans. In fact, nighttime acid reflux events are generally thought to be more damaging than acid reflux that occurs during the day, because it usually means prolonged exposure of the esophagus to corrosive stomach acids.