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How to sleep with stomach ulcer?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

To sleep better with a stomach ulcer, try eating a light snack before bed, using pillows to elevate your upper body, avoiding large meals late in the day, and taking prescribed painkillers if your doctor recommends it.

Stomach ulcers, also known as gastric ulcers, are sores that form on the lining of the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine (duodenum). They happen when the protective layer of mucus that normally covers these areas gets damaged, allowing stomach acid to irritate the tissue underneath.

These ulcers are quite common, although fewer people get them now because we understand them better and have better treatments. The main cause is often an infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), which weakens the protective mucus layer. Using pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin for a long time can also lead to ulcers by irritating the stomach lining.

Living with a stomach ulcer can be tough physically and emotionally. The pain can vary but is often a dull ache or burning feeling in the upper belly. This pain tends to get worse when the stomach is empty or at night, making it hard to sleep well.

If you’d like to know how long stomach ulcers tend to last, simply click this link to read our other article. 

How to sleep with a stomach ulcer

If you’re dealing with a stomach ulcer, getting to sleep can be difficult due to the discomfort they cause. 

Here are some practical tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:

Have a light snack before bed:

Eating a small snack like crackers or yoghurt can help neutralise stomach acid and keep you comfortable through the night. Avoid spicy or acidic snacks that might irritate your ulcer.

Avoid eating big meals before bed:

Eating large meals right before bedtime can increase acid production and make your ulcer symptoms worse. Try to eat your last full meal at least a few hours before lying down.

Drink plenty of water:

Drinking water throughout the day can help to neutralise stomach acid and prevent dehydration, which can worsen ulcer pain. Limit fluids before bed to avoid disrupting your sleep with trips to the bathroom.

Use pillows to elevate your body:

Try using extra pillows or a wedge pillow to keep your upper body slightly raised. This can prevent stomach acid from moving up into your throat.

Take painkillers where appropriate:

If your doctor recommends it, take pain relief medication before bed to ease discomfort and improve sleep quality. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and avoid NSAIDs if they bother your stomach.

Try to stick to a strict bedtime routine:

Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle and can improve sleep quality.

Speak to your doctor if issues continue:

If your ulcer continues to disturb your sleep despite following the tips above, discuss it with your doctor. They can adjust your treatment plan or suggest additional strategies to help you sleep better.

Frequently asked questions about stomach ulcers

What are the symptoms of a stomach ulcer?

Common symptoms include burning pain in the abdomen, bloating, nausea, and vomiting, often worse on an empty stomach.

How can I relieve stomach ulcer pain at night?

Elevate your upper body with pillows, avoid large meals before bed, and take prescribed pain relief medication if recommended by your doctor.

Is it safe to take NSAIDs if I have a stomach ulcer?

NSAIDs can worsen ulcer symptoms. Speak with your doctor for safer alternatives tailored to your condition.

A woman sits on the side of her bed unable to sleep due to her stomach ulcer.

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