Changing sleep position, reducing the size of evening meals, losing weight and quitting smoking can help in the prevention of nighttime acid reflux problems. Patients with heartburn that does not go away should see their doctors, warns WebMD. Untreated reflux has the potential for scarring and narrowing of the esophagus, and it increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Sleep positioning helps to keep acid safe in the stomach. Side sleepers benefit from sleeping on their left sides. Sleeping flat on the back places the esophagus level with the stomach, increasing reflux. A back sleeper can reduce the incidence of reflux by elevating the head of the bed on 4- to 6-inch blocks or sleeping on a wedge-shaped pillow, advises WebMD.
Eating a large meal close to bedtime increases the likelihood of experiencing acid reflux, according to WebMD. Smaller meals are less likely to force acid into the esophagus. Waiting two to three hours after eating allows time for emptying part of the stomach contents before bed.
Excess weight and tight clothing force gastric juices out of the stomach. Losing a small amount of weight often gives relief, reports WebMD. Smoking affects acid reflux by irritating the throat tissues and relaxing the muscles that prevent reflux. Reducing acid reflux is an additional reason for quitting.