Traditionally, doctors have been advising patients with heartburn to avoid eating a meal within three or four hours of bedtime but is this just a medical old wives tale, or is the recommendation founded on real scientific evidence?
In his weekly health column for The New York Times, Anahad O Connor tackles this issue and points to two studies that put the rule to the test. The results: The guidelines do indeed hold up. While both studies supported that advice, one of them found that lying in bed shortly after consuming a meal increases the chance that stomach acid slips back into the esophagus by up to seven-fold. Since it takes about three to four hours for the stomach to empty of food, those with chronic heartburn or gastro-esophageal reflux disease should heed their physicians advice and avoid eating too soon before catching some zzzs.