After eating a particularly heavy meal or downing a plate of fried food, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise when you start the feel that burning sensation in your lower chest.
Heartburn is a common experience for many of us – millions of us, in fact. In most cases it is mild and occasional enough that it doesn’t cause much concern. An over-the-counter antacid is usually enough to send symptoms packing. If you experience heartburn on a regular basis, however, you may be wondering what you can do to find relief.
You may be surprised to learn that changing your mattress could make a difference.
In this article, we’ll explore the subject of acid reflux including the most common causes and triggers. We’ll talk about lifestyle changes that may help reduce reflux, including changing your mattress or making changes to your sleep habits. You’ll also receive tips for shopping for a new mattress and see our top picks for the best mattresses for acid reflux.
What are the Best Mattresses for Acid Reflux?
- Best Overall: Loom & Leaf
- Best for Hot Sleepers: Nolah Signature
- Best Budget-Friendly: Nectar
- Best Luxury: Leesa Hybrid
- Best for Adjustable Bases: Amerisleep AS3
- Best for Lightweight Sleepers: Helix Sunset
- Best for Heavy Sleepers: WinkBed Plus
- Best for Combination Sleepers: Puffy Lux
- Best Innerspring: Saatva Classic
- Best Hybrid: Bear Hybrid
- Best Latex: Birch by Helix
- Best All-Foam: Tuft & Needle
What Causes Acid Reflux?
The familiar burning pain in the lower chest area frequently referred to as heartburn is actually called acid reflux. It happens when acid from the stomach flows back up into the esophagus.
Your stomach contains hydrochloric acid which helps break down food and protects you against harmful pathogens like bacteria. The lining of your stomach is uniquely adapted to resist the acid, though your esophagus is not. Fortunately, there is a ring of muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus as an added layer of protection – it’s called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
When the lower esophageal sphincter fails, the contents of your stomach may be regurgitated back into the esophagus which causes the burning sensation of acid reflux. If you experience reflux symptoms on a regular basis (more than twice a week), it might actually be gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.
Here are some of the symptoms of GERD:
- Frequent heartburn (2x weekly or more)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Worsening heartburn when lying down or bending over
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Worsening heartburn after eating
- Respiratory problems
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), GERD affects about 20% of the U.S. population. Though it may not seem like a big deal, untreated GERD can lead to serious complications like esophagitis, esophageal stricture, asthma, or even pre-cancerous changes to the lining of the esophagus, a condition called Barrett’s esophagus.
Fortunately, both occasional reflux and GERD are fairly easy to treat. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medications like antacids, H2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors – just be mindful of potential side effects.
In more serious cases where OTC medications aren’t enough, surgery may be required. For most people, however, medications and lifestyle changes are adequate to prevent and relieve symptoms.
Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Reflux
The key to reducing and preventing acid reflux symptoms is addressing your risk factors and avoiding triggers. The biggest medical risk factors for developing GERD include obesity, pregnancy, hiatal hernia, and connective tissue disorders. Lifestyle behaviors that may trigger reflux include smoking, eating large meals, using NSAIDs, drinking caffeine or alcohol, and eating certain types of foods.
These are the best lifestyle changes you can make to reduce reflux:
- Avoid high-fat foods (like fried food), spicy foods, rich food, and highly acidic foods (like citrus fruit and tomatoes).
- Eat your meals slowly, making sure to chew everything thoroughly – it may help to switch to smaller, more frequent meals from the typical 3 large meals a day.
- Stop drinking carbonated beverages, especially with meals – stick to plain water.
- Avoid vigorous exercise within a few hours of eating, especially if it involves bending over – limit your after-dinner activity to a gentle walk.
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese – increased weight spreads out the muscle that supports the lower esophageal sphincter, decreasing the pressure that keeps it closed.
- Quit smoking – nicotine can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the risk of acid reflux and GERD.
- Don’t lie down right after eating – either sit up or go for a gentle walk to give your body some time to digest your meal.
- Try herbal remedies like chamomile, licorice root, marshmallow root, or slippery elm.
- Avoid sleeping on your back because it may allow acid from your stomach to flow freely back into your esophagus, making reflux symptoms worse.
As you start making changes to your diet and lifestyle, you may notice things that directly impact your reflux symptoms. It’s helpful to identify your triggers and make a note of them so you can avoid them in the future. Being proactive by taking an antacid before a large meal or planning dinner an hour earlier might help as well. You should also think about upgrading your mattress.
Shopping Tips for a New Mattress
Changing your mattress may not directly influence your reflux symptoms but making adjustments to your sleeping position will. Reflux occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, so preventing symptoms may be as simple as taking steps to keep that stomach acid where it belongs.
Many people find that sleeping with their head elevated significantly reduces reflux symptoms at night. Propping your head up with a pillow or using a wedge pillow specially designed for this purpose may work. You can also try using bed risers to permanently elevate the head of your bed or, if you’re willing to make the investment, upgrade to an adjustable base.
Something else you can do to reduce acid reflux is start sleeping on your side (particularly your left side). If you’re going to completely change your sleeping position, however, you may need to change your mattress as well to make sure your spine gets the support it needs for proper alignment.
Here are some things to look for in a mattress for side sleepers:
- Choose a mattress that is durably constructed from high-quality materials – a cheap mattress is more likely to sag over time which will compromise your support and comfort.
- Avoid mattresses that are too firm – you need something a little softer to avoid putting too much pressure on your hips and shoulders.
- Think about a memory foam or latex mattress for pressure point relief – you might also consider a hybrid mattress that incorporates a foam or latex top.
- Make sure the mattress you choose offers plenty of support from the base – while pressure relief is important in the hips and shoulders, your spine still needs support from below.
- Consider an adjustable base to relieve pressure on the hips and shoulders – an adjustable base will also allow you to raise the head of the bed which might help with reflux.
The Best Mattresses for Acid Reflux
Sleeping on your side is one of the simplest things you can do to reduce reflux, but you may need to upgrade your mattress if you’re going to make it a permanent change. If your mattress is too hard or too soft, it may not support proper spine alignment. Firm mattresses can create pressure points at the hips and shoulders while soft mattresses may allow your hips to sink, throwing your spine out of alignment.
A mattress designed for side sleepers is typically medium-firm or a little softer. These mattresses are made with pressure-relieving materials in the top layers that conform to the contours of the body. The mattress should still have a supportive base, but pressure relief is important.
Here are our top picks for the best mattresses for acid reflux:
Best Overall: If you’re going to purchase a new mattress to help relieve acid reflux symptoms, you want to make sure it’s going to last. The Loom & Leaf mattress is a great choice because it is moderately priced and made with high-quality materials. Plus, it comes in two firmness levels so you can choose the one that’s best for your preferred sleeping style – the relaxed firm is a good choice for side sleepers.
The Loom & Leaf mattress is handcrafted with a quilted organic cotton covering and multiple layers of premium foam. The base of this mattress is made up of several layers of support foam which ensure the optimal degree of luxurious comfort as well as contouring support for the spine and body. You’ll also find a layer of premium eco-friendly memory foam for pressure relief and optimal lumbar support along with a layer of Spinal Zone Gel for cooling comfort.
- Pros: Made with premium materials, two firmness levels to choose from, designed for adjustable bases
- Cons: Fairly expensive compared to many models, may be too firm for some users
Best Budget-Friendly: You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on a new mattress, but you want to make sure your investment is worth it. The Nectar mattress offers excellent quality and durability at an affordable price. Plus, you get a full year to test it with free shipping and hassle-free returns if you don’t love it.
The original Nectar mattress starts with a base layer of stabilizing support foam which is topped with a transition layer of adaptive hi-core memory foam. On top of that is a layer of gel memory foam that distributes your weight and body heat, keeping you cool and comfortable all night. This combination of foams ensures the optimal degree of pressure relief around the hips and shoulders without losing the support you need for proper spine alignment. You’ll also love the quilted memory foam top which gives you the feeling of sleeping on a cloud.
- Pros: Long 365-night trial period, multi-layer foam construction, comfort and support
- Cons: May not be firm enough for heavy sleepers, foam may be slow to respond
Best Luxury: A mattress should last you about 7 years, though a high-quality mattress might last longer. If you’re looking for a premium mattress that offers excellent durability on top of luxurious comfort and spinal support, consider the Leesa Hybrid mattress. The Leesa Hybrid mattress may cost a little more than the average mattress, but it’s well worth the price.
The Leesa Hybrid mattress is designed with a combination of premium foam with individual pocketed springs. This mattress provides edge-to-edge support and stability, but it also excels in pressure point relief. The base consists of over 1,000 individual springs that respond to your movement as well as your sleeping style while the top is a layer of hole-punched foam that delivers cooling, contouring comfort. The Leesa Hybrid is rated medium-firm which is perfect for side sleepers and it comes with a 100-night sleep trial and free delivery.
- Pros: Designed for comfort and support, luxury hybrid design, stabilizing pocket coil base
- Cons: More expensive than all-foam mattresses
Best for Adjustable Bases: Many who suffer from acid reflux find that elevating the head of their bed mitigates symptoms. The trouble with that is you have to choose between sleeping propped up on pillows or permanently raising the head of your bed with risers. If you’re willing to make the investment, an adjustable base gives you the ability to raise the head of your bed temporarily – you can also adjust the feet to find the perfect degree of comfort no matter your sleeping position.
Our top pick for the best mattress for adjustable bases is the Amerisleep AS3. Not only is this all-foam mattress a great choice for adjustable bases, but this particular model is ideal for all sleeping styles, including side sleeping. The AS3 provides a blend of support, softness, and pressure relief at a surprisingly affordable price. It has a medium feel and the unique plant-based Bio-Pur materials have an open-cell design which sleeps cooler than traditional foam. All Amerisleep mattresses come with a risk-free 100-night sleep trial as well as free shipping and hassle-free returns.
- Pros: Five models to choose from, plant-based Bio-Pur materials, targeted pressure relief system
- Cons: Could be stronger in edge support, may not have enough bounce for some sleepers
Best for Lightweight Sleepers: Experts typically recommend a medium level of firmness in a mattress, simply because anything too soft may not provide enough support to keep the spine in proper alignment. If you weigh less than 130 pounds, however, even a medium-firm mattress might be too firm.
When sleeping on your side to relieve acid reflux, your mattress should be soft enough that it conforms to your body’s contours, relieving pressure from the hips and shoulders. For lightweight sleepers, we recommend the Helix Sunset mattress, one of the softest mattress options on the market. The Helix Sunset is designed for pressure relief and temperature regulation, rated a 2-3 on the firmness scale. It may be a little too soft for some sleepers, in which case the Helix Midnight may be a bitter option.
The Helix Sunset features a multi-layer hybrid design that combines individually wrapped coils that cradle the body while limiting motion transfer – this is important if you sleep with someone a little heavier than you. The mattress includes a transition layer of Helix dynamic foam for ergonomic support and cushioning as well as a comfort layer of memory plus foam to relieve pressure.
- Pros: Hybrid design combines comfort and pressure relief, minimal motion transfer, ergonomic support
- Cons: May be too soft for some sleepers, may be less durable than firmer mattresses
Best for Heavy Sleepers: Most mattresses are designed to accommodate couples when each person weighs up to 200 or 250 pounds. If you weigh more than that, you may need to think a little more carefully about the mattress you choose to ensure you get the support and pressure relief you need. The WinkBed Plus mattress is uniquely designed for individuals 300 pounds and up.
The WinkBed Plus offers the same quality as the original WinkBed, but it is tested for durability and support. This mattress is constructed with high-density foam to prevent the formation of body impressions and it includes a unique 7-zoned latex support layer. Pure latex materials have been shown to hold their shape better than foam and it has an open-cell design which maximizes heat transfer away from the body. Individuals over 300 pounds will find the WinkBed Plus around 6.5 on a 10-point firmness scale while individuals 200 pounds and under may find it a bit firmer, around 8/10.
- Pros: Uniquely designed for individuals over 300 pounds, 7-zone support layer, maximum heat transfer
- Cons: May not sink as much as traditional foam mattresses, some find it too firm
Best for Hot Sleepers: Memory foam is a great material for pressure relief, a key concern if you decide to sleep on your side for acid reflux. The trouble with memory foam is that it tends to trap heat which can make it difficult to stay comfortable at night. If you’re looking for a mattress that sleeps cool, we recommend the Nolah Signature. This mattress ships free and comes with a 120-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty.
In addition to being an excellent choice for hot sleepers, the Nolah Signature is also a versatile mattress that offers two different firmness levels. This mattress features a 7-inch base of high-density foam for support with an additional support layer of high-resilience foam. On either side you’ll find a layer of cooling Nolah AirFoam which relieves pressure by contouring to the body without trapping body heat. With a luxurious organic cotton cover, this 12-inch mattress is a premium option.
- Pros: Two-sided design to choose firmness, cooling foam for comfort, 120-night trial period
- Cons: May not be a good choice for heavyweight sleepers, somewhat pricier than other options
Best for Combination Sleepers: Sleeping on your side is the recommended position for acid reflux relief, but you might not be able to sleep that way all night. If you tend to change positions throughout the night, you need a mattress that has a little bit of give but not so much that you feel trapped. We recommend the Puffy Lux for combination sleepers because it delivers the ideal combination of contouring and support trapping you.
The Puffy Lux is a four-layer, all-foam mattress rated between 5 and 7 on the 10-point firmness scale. This mattress incorporates an exclusive layer of Body Adapting Dual Cloud Foam in addition to Puffy’s signature Cooling Cloud and Climate Comfort foams. It all sits on a base of firm core support foam to create a relaxing but supportive environment for sleep. This mattress adapts well to all sleeping styles and it has a luxury comfort for an added hint of premium comfort.
- Pros: Designed for cooling comfort and support, climate-adaptive materials, strong pressure relief
- Cons: Significantly more expensive than many models, may not be firm enough for stomach sleepers
Best Innerspring: If you have an old mattress in your house, it’s probably an innerspring mattress. Traditional innerspring mattresses are made with a continuous coil which does a good job of providing support and durability, but it doesn’t do much in the way of motion isolation. Modern innerspring mattresses often feature individually wrapped coils which are a much better option if you share your bed with a partner.
Our top pick for innerspring mattresses is the Saatva Classic. This mattress is technically a hybrid innerspring mattress because it incorporates a Euro pillow top. Next comes a layer of individually encased springs with a perimeter edge support system and enhanced spine support from Lumbar Zone technology in the middle of the mattress. It all sits on a durable base of tempered steel coils, triple-tempered and oven-baked for maximum strength. If you’re looking for strong support to ensure optimal spine alignment but you still need pressure relief for side sleeping, the Saatva Classic is a great option.
- Pros: Three firmness levels to choose from, luxury hybrid construction, breathable and supportive
- Cons: Hybrid mattresses tend to be fairly heavy, less contouring/hugging than foam mattresses
Best Hybrid: Why choose between an innerspring and a foam mattress when you can have the best of both worlds? A hybrid mattress provides the support of an innerspring base with the contouring pressure relief of foam. The Bear Hybrid is our top pick for the best hybrid mattress for acid reflux relief.
The Bear Hybrid mattress features six layers of cooling comfort and pressure relief. It all starts with a layer of high-density support foam for durability, topped with the Quantum Edge Coil System for superior spine alignment. Next comes a transition layer of responsive foam and a comfort layer of premium foam that adapts to all body types and sleep positions. On top you’ll find a layer of hyper-soft cooling gel foam and a hand-quilted Celliant fiber top. This mattress is surprisingly affordable and it comes with a 100-night risk-free trial, free shipping and returns, and a 20-year warranty.
- Pros: Combines cooling and comfort, supportive for all body types, relieves sore muscles
- Cons: May not be firm enough for heavy sleepers or stomach sleepers
Best Latex: While memory foam does an excellent job of relieving pressure, some people find that is sleeps hot or has too much sink. Latex is a similar material, but it offers a little more bounce. If you are trying to sleep on your side but tend to move around at night, that added bounce makes it a little bit easier to change positions. Our top pick for the best latex mattress is the Birch mattress by Helix.
The Birch mattress by Helix is all-natural and designed for optimized pressure relief and maximum breathability. This mattress features a support layer of individually wrapped coils that cradle the body to provide support without sinking to the degree that you feel trapped. Over the coils is a layer of natural Talalay latex for contouring pressure relief topped with a comfort layer of organic birch wool. All materials are GOTS or Greenguard Gold Certified, so you can rest easy knowing you’re not being exposed to polyurethane-based foams or harsh chemicals. Plus, you get a 100-night sleep trial.
- Pros: Hybrid construction for support and pressure relief, less sinking feeling than memory foam
- Cons: Some may not like the bouncy feel of latex materials
Best All-Foam: Whether you’re looking for a mattress that relieves pressure or one that supports proper spine alignment, you’ll find what you’re looking for in memory foam. While many memory foam mattresses come at a premium price, the Tuft & Needle Mint mattress is proof that luxury doesn’t have to be expensive. Affordably priced and designed to deliver comfort as well as pressure-relieving support, this is our top pick for the best all-foam mattress for acid reflux relief.
The Tuft & Needle Mint mattress is made with three layers of luxury materials including two layers of proprietary T&N Adaptive foam and 4-inches of progressive support foam. The top layer features an open-cell design to maximize breathability and the cover is soft and breathable as well. This mattress contains 30% more gel beads in the transition layer for a supportive feel while reinforced edges prevent the sides from sinking in. This mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
- Pros: Affordable price tag, luxury three-layer construction, breathable cooling materials, 100-night trial
- Cons: Somewhat lacking in edge support, may be too firm for some side sleepers
Acid reflux is an extremely common condition that affects over 60 million Americans at least once a month and over 15 million daily. Though reflux is often a chronic condition, you can learn to manage it by avoiding your triggers and making changes to your lifestyle.
Something as simple as changing the position in which you sleep could make the biggest difference, but you may need to change your mattress as well.
While there may not be a singular best mattress for acid reflux and GERD, there are certain factors to look for. Choosing a mattress designed for side sleepers is the best place to start and we’ve done our best to provide you with helpful recommendations. Take what you’ve learned here and consider the options we’ve recommended above!
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the best mattress for acid reflux? – If you’re in the market for an anti reflux mattress, you might be disappointed. There isn’t a magical mattress out there that will make your reflux disappear, but there’s good news: changing your sleeping position could provide the relief you’ve been looking for. Sleeping on your side helps reduce reflux, so an anti reflux mattress might be one designed for side sleepers. Look for a mattress that relieves pressure points (particularly the shoulders and hips) without compromising support for your spine.
- Are adjustable beds good for acid reflux? – If you suffer from acid reflux, your symptoms may worsen at night because you’re lying flat. Elevating the head of your bed helps in many cases, but you may find yourself wondering how to elevate bed for GERD. One option is to use pillows to prop yourself up or you can purchase a special wedge pillow designed for this purpose. Another option is to purchase an adjustable bed. When it comes to how to incline your bed, this is definitely the easiest option – you can adjust the height of the head of your bed with the touch of a button. You can also adjust the feet to make it more comfortable.
- What is the right bed elevation for acid reflux? – Generally speaking, the more you can elevate the head of your bed, the better it will be. The trouble is you may not be able to sleep sitting upright. If you have an adjustable bed, experiment with different heights to see what you find most comfortable. Most people find somewhere between 6 and 8 inches to be ideal when it comes to relieving acid reflux at night.
- Are there other ways to elevate the head of my bed? – If you don’t want to shell out for an adjustable bed and you have trouble sleeping with a wedge pillow, another option to facilitate bed elevation for acid reflux is to use bed risers. By placing risers under the legs at the head of your bed, you can effectively elevate the bed by several inches. Just be sure to follow the safety instructions to ensure the risers you choose can support the weight of your bed with the addition of yourself and your partner.
- What is the best sleeping position for acid reflux? – Though changing your mattress may not have a direct influence on your reflux symptoms, changing your sleeping position could. Sleeping on your back is usually the worst for acid reflux because it puts extra pressure on your stomach – especially if you are obese – which may drive stomach acid up into your esophagus. Sleeping on your side, particularly your left side, has been shown to be the best option for reducing reflux. Just be sure to take steps to keep your spine in alignment either by placing a pillow between your knees or upgrading to mattress designed for side sleepers.