Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is widespread all over the world, and in developing countries there are more and more patients every year. Unpleasant symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux — heartburn, hiccups, vomiting, a feeling of acid in the mouth, acid belching, pain behind the sternum – seriously worsen the quality of life and negatively affect the daily activities of a person.
Scientists claim that 80% of patients with GERD experience painful symptoms at night, and this negatively affects the quality of sleep. Previous studies have shown that sleeping on the right side is associated with a longer exposure to hydrochloric acid on the esophagus compared to the position on the left side. But these experiments had serious limitations — a small sample and not quite correct conditions, since they were conducted in the daytime.
The aim of the new study, conducted by scientists from the University of Amsterdam Medical Center, was to study the effect of spontaneous sleep postures on the occurrence of nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux by studying esophageal peristalsis and monitoring body position.
According to this study, published in the February issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, sleeping on the left side is associated with a shorter time of acid exposure to the esophagus and faster acid excretion from the esophagus. 57 patients with gastroesophageal reflux participated in the experiment.
The experts found that compared to the position on the right side and the position on the back, the time of acid exposure on the left side was significantly shorter (median 0.0% vs. 1.2 and 0.6%, respectively). In addition, the time of acid removal from the esophagus in the position on the left side was much shorter compared to the positions on the back and on the right side (median 35 seconds versus 76 and 90 seconds, respectively).