Waking with a sweat?
In three recent articles, we discussed how reproductive and adrenal hormones, as well as Candida overgrowth, can trigger night sweats. In the last of this four-part series, we will discuss the other common cause.
If you have acid reflux, the stomach acid coming up into your food pipe while you sleep can cause you to wake with sweats. A large body of research is suggesting that longterm use of acid blockers (such as Prilosec and Nexium) can be very toxic. Zantac and Tagamet are much safer, but still interfere with digestion.
Nighttime acid reflux is especially likely to be a problem if you have daytime indigestion as well. Although you may sometimes notice the heartburn when you wake up, other times you won't and you'll just wake up in a sweat after inhaling the stomach acid.
My article on How to Get Off Prescription Antacids, Naturally, can be very helpful. You can also look up "heartburn" in the free Cures A-Z phone app.
Don't try to stop acid blocker medications suddenly, as they are very addictive. The rebound acid hyper-secretion will cause indigestion from hell. Instead, follow the instructions in these articles.
But your food pipe and GERD won't be able to properly heal until you take care of the nighttime reflux as well. Here's how!
Getting Rid of Nighttime Acid Reflux
Poor digestion is epidemic in this country. Daytime indigestion is largely caused because food processors learned that destroying the enzymes naturally found in food prolongs shelf life. This is because these enzymes cause the food to ripen. The problem? These enzymes are also critical for humans to digest the food properly. Without them, the food simply sits in the stomach and churns. After a while, your stomach hits the "return to sender" button, and you get acid reflux.
But a key part of getting rid of daytime indigestion and night sweats is eliminating the nighttime acid reflux. Our stomach is built like a tank, to protect it from stomach acid. But our food pipe isn't, and the acid treats it just like another piece of meat, trying to digest it.
Acid reflux (GERD) at night occurs because gravity is no longer holding the acid in the stomach when we lie down. If the valve that's supposed to do this isn't working, the acid flows into your food pipe (esophagus). This causes irritation that will markedly amplify daytime indigestion as well.
How to tell if you have nighttime acid reflux causing your night sweats
Start by taking an acid blocker medication an hour before bedtime for three to four nights. If this helps, you've identified the problem. Stop the acid blocker, as it is quite addictive and toxic when used long-term. Instead, follow the instructions below. If you need a nighttime medication for a while, use Tagamet or Zantac at bedtime instead.
A Recipe to Get Rid of Nighttime Reflux
After six weeks doing the below, you may find your daytime heartburn starts to settle down as well.
- A–Bicarbonate of soda. Take 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda (e.g., Arm and Hammer) in 4 oz of water at bedtime to neutralize the acid in your stomach (not for children under 16 years old). Though it's a bad idea to keep your stomach acid "turned off" during the day (you need it to digest food), you don't need stomach acid at bedtime while sleeping. I recommend one called Complete Gest. Animal-based enzymes do not help digestion. If you have high blood pressure, use potassium bicarbonate instead (not carbonate). This can be found on Amazon.com
- B–Don't eat within two hours before bedtime and take two caps of a plant-based digestive enzyme such as Complete Gest an hour before sleep. This will ensure your stomach is empty when you sleep.
- C–Sleep with your upper body elevated, so gravity keeps the acid in your stomach. Raise your upper body at least 6–8 inches when in bed (just raising your head with pillows won't work). One way to do this is to place a 6–8 inch brick or phone book under the legs by the head of the bed (i.e.–just the two legs by the end of the bed where your head is). Another wonderful solution is to use a sleep wedge pillow (you can find one online at www.hammacher.com
- D–Melatonin. Take 5–6 mg of an immediate release melatonin at bedtime. Research shows that this decreases reflux.
- E–Immediate Heartburn Relief chewable antacids.
Keep a few at the bedside to take if needed. These are more effective and much healthier than regular calcium chewables.
By taking the steps discussed in this four-part series, night sweats will usually be gone and you will be having a much more restful sleep!
Disclaimer: Please be aware that medicine is complex and without actually being your attending physician we cannot give medical advice. Any information given is to be used as a teaching tool for you and your physician to work with therefore we cannot take any legal responsibility for its use. Please check with your personal physician before applying any recommendations.
Jacob E Teitelbaum, MD
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, is a board certified internist and Medical Director of the national Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and Chronicity. He is author of the popular free iPhone application "Cures A-Z," and author of the best-selling books
- The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution: The Essential Guide to Overcoming Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia
- From Fatigued to Fantastic!
- Pain Free 1-2-3
- Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy
- The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction
- Beat Sugar Addiction Now! Cookbook
- Real Cause, Real Cure: The 9 root causes of the most common health problems and how to solve them
Dr. Teitelbaum knows CFS/fibromyalgia as an insider — he contracted CFS when he was in medical school and had to drop out for a year to recover. In the ensuing 25 years, he has dedicated his career to finding effective treatments.