The Connection Between Heartburn and Sleep

Study showed patients with sleep disturbances responded more quickly to heartburn symptoms.

Occasional heartburn is common and not really a big deal for many people. When it becomes chronic and severe, however, that’s another story.

man_sitting_bed_holding_head_sleep_disorderA study from Taiwan found that people who had problems with sleep disturbances had a faster response to heartburn symptoms than those with normal sleep patterns.

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) is the medical term to describe what happens when the stomach contents come back up into the esophagus. Also known as acid ingestion or heartburn, when it becomes chronic, this condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

The study showed there’s a connection between an individual’s sleep patterns and heartburn.

Chih-Hsun Yi, MD, from the Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital in Taiwan, led the study of 40 patients.

The researchers confirmed that 22 of the patients had evidence of sleep disturbances as measured by a test called the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Symptoms of sleep disturbance included having trouble falling asleep, taking longer to become fully awake and lower quality of sleep.

All patients in the study received a dose of hot sauce based on red peppers. The researchers then measured how long it took the patients to respond to the hot sauce and how severe their symptoms were.

Patients with sleep disturbances reacted more quickly with symptoms of heartburn and reported more severe heartburn symptoms than those with normal sleep patterns.

The study was published in the Nov. issue of the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Information on study funding was not available.

None of the authors reported a conflict of interest.

HealthDay, “Sleep disturbance linked to esophageal hypersensitivity”
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, “Sleep disturbance and enhanced esophageal capsaicin sensitivity in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease”
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “Definition and Facts for GER and GERD”

Written by: Staff | Medically reviewed by: Dr. Robert Carlson, M.D.