Get 25% off your first bottle when you subscribe!

The Role of Diet in Managing GERD and Improving Sleep

It’s no secret the massive role our diet plays in reflux prevention. As a Registered Dietitian specializing in Reflux/GERD/LPR, I've witnessed firsthand the profound impact that diet can have on managing reflux and improving sleep quality. For many individuals, GERD not only disrupts daily life with symptoms like heartburn and regurgitation but also interferes with the crucial process of sleep.

In this blog post, I'll delve into the intricate relationship between diet, GERD, and sleep, shedding light on effective dietary and supplement strategies for nighttime reflux prevention.

Why Does Reflux Get Worse at Night?

Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, causing irritation and discomfort. While reflux can happen at any time of the day, it often intensifies during the night. When you lie down to sleep, gravity no longer helps keep stomach contents in place. This allows acid to travel more easily up the esophagus, leading to increased symptoms.

When you have GERD/LPR your lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which keeps the acidic gastric juices in your stomach, does not close properly and makes one more susceptible to acid traveling up the esophagus. Therefore, without the help of gravity, all of the work depends on the LES function, which is why so many struggle with reflux symptoms at night. Furthermore, dinner is often a larger meal which puts more pressure on the LES and puts us more at risk for reflux.

Preventing Reflux/GERD While You Sleep

Adopting a Reflux-friendly diet can significantly alleviate symptoms and promote better sleep. Research suggests that certain foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits, spicy dishes, caffeine, and fatty foods, can exacerbate GERD symptoms and should be limited or avoided, especially at the evening meal.

Choose nutrient-dense foods that are less likely to provoke reflux, such as:

My free 3-day Acid Reflux Friendly meal plan has some simple, delicious meal ideas that you can incorporate into your diet with confidence!

Eating past fullness (feeling overfull) at dinner can be a major reflux trigger. Practice:

Additionally, small, frequent meals throughout the day rather than large ones can help prevent excessive stomach distention, reducing the likelihood of reflux episodes. For example, try making breakfast or lunch your larger meals. Create a flexible meal schedule with smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to prevent overeating and minimize pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).

Supplement Strategies for Reflux Prevention & Sleep

One innovative approach gaining recognition in GERD management is the use of alginates—natural compounds derived from seaweed. Alginates work by forming a protective barrier on top of stomach contents, preventing them from refluxing into the esophagus. This mechanism not only provides relief from heartburn but also offers a unique solution for nighttime reflux. By taking alginates before bedtime, individuals can create a barrier that reduces the likelihood of acid reflux during sleep, thus promoting uninterrupted rest.

Furthermore, melatonin, commonly known as the sleep hormone, has emerged as a promising adjunct therapy for GERD. Research indicates that melatonin not only regulates sleep-wake cycles but also exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, melatonin has been shown to strengthen the lower esophageal sphincter, the muscle that prevents acid reflux, thus reducing the frequency and severity of reflux episodes, particularly at night. Try RefluxRaft Midnight Berry to take advantage of these evidence-based reflux prevention tools.

The role of diet in managing GERD and improving sleep cannot be overstated. By adopting a GERD-friendly diet, minimizing trigger foods, developing a consistent meal schedule, and incorporating innovative strategies like alginates and melatonin, we can regain control over our symptoms and enjoy restful nights free from reflux-induced disruptions.


Written by Molly Pelletier, MS, RD, LDN | Molly Pelletier is a Registered Dietitian specializing in acid reflux/GERD/LPR, digestive health, and IBS. Molly's background in nutrition science and her personal health journey with GERD culminated in the curation of FLORA Nutrition, where she shares evidence-based tools and strategies to help others recover from reflux and optimize their overall well-being.


  1. Fox M, Gyawali CP. Dietary factors involved in GERD management. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2023;62-63:101826. doi:10.1016/j.bpg.2023.101826
  2. Bantounou M, Plascevic J, Galley HF. Melatonin and Related Compounds: Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Actions. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022;11(3):532. Published 2022 Mar 10. doi:10.3390/antiox11030532
  3. Bang CS, Yang YJ, Baik GH. Melatonin for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease; protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019;98(4):e14241. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000014241