How to Sleep With a Hiatal Hernia

A hiatal hernia occurs when a part of the stomach pushes through the opening at your diaphragm (where your esophagus joins your stomach). This condition can be very painful and unpleasant and it can lead to chest pain, heartburn and belching. Having a hiatal hernia may make it difficult for you to get a proper amount of sleep. However, there are a few things that you can do to help you sleep better with a hiatal hernia.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Elevate the head of your bed with a sturdy item. Try placing 6-inch blocks or bricks under the legs of your bed (at the head). This elevates your head and chest and makes it more comfortable for you to sleep with a hiatal hernia. Elevating the head of your bed also prevents stomach acid from traveling up into your esophagus while you sleep.

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Use a wedged-shaped pillow in the bed. A wedged-shaped pillow is sturdy and it provides more support than sleeping on a stack of pillows. You can move your wedged-shaped pillow around in the bed and you may even choose to move the pillow to different locations in your home (like to your sofa).

Install an appropriate bed elevating system. If you already have a comfortable bed and mattress, you might consider installing a Sleepcliner bed elevating system or another similar system. This type of system elevates the box spring and mattress as one unit, instead of causing you to bend at your waist. You can operate the Sleepcliner with your current bed frame or it can stand alone by itself.

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Purchase an adjustable bed. An adjustable bed makes it really easy to switch positions by simply pushing a button. You can frequently elevate your head and chest while lying in your adjustable bed. There are a variety of styles, colors and types of adjustable beds to choose from and you are sure to find a bed to suit your needs.

Choose a comfortable sleeping position. If you have a hiatal hernia, it is always best to sleep on your back or side. You should avoid sleeping on your stomach or in any type of awkward position.


Avoid sleeping on a stack of pillows because this can lead to problems with your neck and back. Be sure to sleep in comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that does not fit tightly on your abdomen. Do not lie down after eating a heavy meal because this may cause great discomfort when you try to sleep with a hiatal hernia.