Have Heartburn during the Nightshift?

A team of researchers recruited 350 people to look at whether their nighttime eating habits predicted their risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Stomach contents (food or liquid) of people suffering from GERD leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus (the tube from the mouth to the stomach). This can irritate the esophagus, causing heartburn and other symptoms. Obesity, cigarettes, and possibly alcohol also increase the chance of GERD.

After controlling for smoking, body mass index and other things that influence heartburn, the researchers found that eating dinner within three hours of going to bed was associated with a sevenfold increase in the risk of reflux symptoms. As for why three to four hours is the threshold, researchers say that is roughly the amount of time it takes for food to clear the stomach.

Researchers from Mid Sweden University performed a systematic review of the medical literature noting studies that have reported gastrointestinal symptoms and diseases among shift workers by researchers from Mid Sweden University. Studies have indicated that shift workers appear to have increased risk of gastrointestinal symptoms and peptic ulcer disease. Workplace noise, increased work schedule variability, and working the evening shift may have the most adverse affect on gastrointestinal functioning.

Here are some suggestions of ways to minimize gastrointestinal discomfort by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine:
-Avoid bending over or exercising just after eating.
-Avoid garments or belts that fit tightly around your waist.
-Do not lie down with a full stomach. For example, avoid eating within 2 – 3 hours of bedtime.
– Do not smoke.
– Eat smaller meals.
– Lose weight, if you are overweight.
– Reduce stress.
-Sleep with your head raised about 6 inches. Do this by tilting your entire bed, or by using a wedge under your body, not just with normal pillows.
2011 Circadian Age, Inc.˜Working Nights”

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