Gastric reflux and sleep apnea

by Jo

Please help me. I am terrified and desperate.

I used to exercise in the late afternoon and thereafter would have severe sleep apnea symptoms - alternatively feeling like my heart and/or breathing has stopped.

I started exercising in the morning and am disappointed that I have the same symptoms in the night, also with severe chest pain and gastric reflux.

It seems to be most severe on the days that I exercise.

I am not overweight but could lose some pounds - hence exercise.

A recent brain scan showed no abnormalities. I have not yet had a sleep study test.

I am 48 years old and have been fit and active all my life so this is very debilitating.

Please help. This is affecting the quality of my life.


As soon as you told me about gastric reflux, also known as acid reflux or heartburn, I realized that there is a probability to have signs of sleep apnea.

About 7 in 100 healthy people experience heartburn on an almost daily basis. The problem is serious if these people experience significant heartburn at night, which can disrupt sleep and lead to drowsiness in the morning.

Another problem is that nocturnal acid reflux may be a sign of sleep apnea, and you can learn more in the article about the link between acid reflux and sleep apnea.

If you could prevent acid reflux at night, you could improve the symptoms of sleep apnea as well.

One factor that can contribute to worsening gastric reflux at night is the position that we sleep in. Elevation of the head of the bed can be useful, and you can buy a special bed or use bricks to prop up the head of the bed and create a tilt.

Sometimes, people find it useful to use several pillows so that they are not lying completely flat.

Alcohol and sedative medication can make acid reflux worse, so try to avoid these as much as possible. And avoid foods that can provoke your heartburn before bedtime.

However, if your heartburn persists, you must seek medical advice, because untreated gastric reflux increase the risk of peptic ulcers and, in the long term, of developing esophageal cancer.

I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

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May 28, 2011
sleep apnea and exercise
by: Anonymous

I don't smoke or drink. I am not taking any kind of medications. I only get sleep apnea when I have been exercising. Does it have something to do with the oxygen levels in the blood? How can this be if exercise is supposed to be part of the cure?

May 28, 2011
Already have a sleep study?
by: Remy

Physical exercises cannot affect sleep apnea, and the exercises can help only if you have obstructive sleep apnea caused by obesity. Losing weight with physical exercises can be helpful.

However, it's possible that you don't have sleep apnea symptoms but shortness of breath caused by overloaded heart. Maybe is something wrong with your heart, and I recommend to visit a cardiologist.

A sleep study can give you the right answer about sleeping problems, but check your heart as well.

I hope it helps.

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