What Does It Mean When You Have Heartburn At Night?

Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux and is characterized by a burning sensation around the sternum, according to Web MD. Acid reflux is when stomach acid travels back up the esophagus, into the throat and it is actually quite common. Over 60 million Americans get it once a month but most people can treat it with over-the-counter medication.

To be clear, heartburn technically has nothing to do with the heart. However, a person experiencing a heart attack might confuse it with heartburn because, per Medical News Today, heartburn and heart attacks share a common symptom — chest pain.

However, there are times when heartburn is not just a symptom of acid reflux. This is why doctors have tests like X-rays, endoscopies and esophageal motility testing, Mayo Clinic notes. Matters like your current health situation and the time of and frequency with which you get heartburn can help a lot in the process of diagnosis. But, what does it mean if your heartburn happens more at night?

Nighttime heartburn can occur due to a number of factors

Nighttime heartburn can be a sign of a medical condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, according to Medical News Today. If you already have heartburn, it can intensify at night. This is because that's the time most people are trying to sleep, and lying flat means that your stomach acid isn't moving through your digestive system as it should. Instead, the stomach acid is staying as still as you are, which can aggravate your heartburn (via Healthline). 

According to MedicineNet, consuming a lot of carbonated drinks and using sleeping pills can also bring on nighttime heartburn. Per WebMD, wearing tight clothes also puts you at the risk of nighttime heartburn, and so does being overweight.

Meanwhile, nighttime heartburn could also happen because of pregnancy (via Parents). Eight out of every ten people expecting a baby experience heartburn, notes Baby Center. Medications that help deal with nighttime heartburn include antacids, H2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors, Med Cline noted.