Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease A Possible Cause for Sleep Deprivation

National GERD Awareness Week: November 22 – 28, 2009

For Immediate Release

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Having trouble sleeping at night? Recent studies indicate that GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) could be a reason. 

GERD occurs when a ring-like muscle in the lower part of the esophagus (food pipe) does not close properly and stomach contents leak back, or reflux, into the esophagus.  Symptoms, like heartburn and acid back-flow (regurgitation), can cause a person to completely wake up from a deep sleep. They also can arouse a person -- sometimes without their realizing it -- several times during the night. These arousals usually last about 30 seconds and tend to occur during an acid reflux event.  

"These awakenings become a vicious cycle because sleep deprivation also seems to make GERD worse," said Ronnie Fass, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Arizona and member of the Medical Advisory Board of the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD). 

Dr. Fass says that anyone who wakes up during the night with heartburn, acid regurgitation, or a sour or bitter taste in their mouth, as well as those who wake up in the morning with these symptoms, should be considered to have nocturnal reflux. 

Other signs include:

  • nighttime cough
  • wheezing
  • sore throat
  • choking
  • insomnia
  • repeated awakenings during the night
  • snoring
  • tossing and turning
  • nightmares. 

"Anyone who experiences any of these symptoms should talk to a doctor to see if nocturnal reflux is the cause," said Nancy J. Norton, IFFGD president. "Simple steps often can reduce symptoms and improve sleep, resulting in better overall health." 

During National GERD Awareness Week, which takes place from November 22 – 28, IFFGD is offering a free information packet about GERD. It can be ordered by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or calling 414-964-1799 or visiting the Web site