Why You May Wake Up With Heartburn

Morning heartburn is common and treatable

Waking up with heartburn is called "riser's reflux." If you experience it, you may feel a burning sensation in the chest, neck, or throat and have a bitter taste in your mouth first thing in the morning or within 20 minutes of getting up.

Heartburn occurs when stomach acid flows up into the esophagus, the tube that connects the throat to the stomach, and lying down is one way this can happen. It is a symptom of acid reflux, a condition where stomach acid or bile irritate the esophagus.

It's normal to wake up with heartburn in the morning due to pregnancy or drinking alcohol in the evening. But, riser's reflux can also be a sign of conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a long-term digestive condition, and hiatal hernias, a condition where the stomach bulges up through the diaphragm.

How to Prevent Morning Heartburn: A person sleeping, a stopwatch to signify eating 3 hours before bed, a scale for losing weight, an X next to a coffee and carbonated beverage , an X next to a hamburger and hot sauce

Verywell / Theresa Chiechi

This article explains the causes and symptoms associated with waking up with heartburn. It will also discuss how this condition is diagnosed, as well as prevention tips and treatment options.

Why Do I Keep Getting Heartburn in the Morning?

Although GERD is a common reason for heartburn in the morning, there are other reasons that someone can experience this condition.

Other factors that may contribute to morning heartburn include:

Waking up with heartburn is a common occurrence for individuals with GERD. Research suggests that many people experience acid reflux within 20 minutes of waking up.

Symptoms of Morning Heartburn

Some symptoms of heartburn include:

Along with these symptoms, people who have GERD (a condition characterized by frequent and bothersome heartburn) may also experience:

Waking up in the middle of the night with heartburn is also common.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If heartburn in the morning persists long-term, it can lead to breathing problems, inflammation, and narrowing of the esophagus.

Contact your healthcare provider if you have:

  • Heartburn that won’t go away
  • Serious wheezing, or a high-pitched sound that occurs while breathing
  • More severe or frequent heartburn symptoms
  • Consistent hoarseness
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Vomiting due to heartburn
  • Continued symptoms despite taking over-the-counter antacids for more than two weeks
  • Heartburn that isn't relieved by prescription medicine

It is important to contact your healthcare provider about your symptoms and progress. They can help you with any questions and concerns about your specific condition.


Your healthcare provider can diagnose your heartburn and related conditions based on the following:

  • Discussing your symptoms with you
  • An upper endoscopy, a procedure where a small tube with a camera on the end is inserted down the mouth to examine the esophagus and stomach
  • X-rays, or imaging tests, that look at the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine
  • Esophageal pH monitoring, or a test that checks how often and for how long stomach acid is in the esophagus

How Do I Stop Heartburn in the Morning?

To reduce the likelihood of waking up with heartburn, lifestyle changes can make a difference.

These include:

Talk to your healthcare provider regarding options and changes that you can make to help your condition.

What Foods Cause Heartburn?

Certain foods and beverages may increase heartburn symptoms.

Some of these include:

Your healthcare provider can help you create a list of foods to remove and incorporate into your diet that will help treat your symptoms.

Can Heartburn Be Treated?

Some treatments include over-the-counter (OTC) medications if your heartburn is mild. However, if OTC drugs don't work, your healthcare provider may prescribe something else.

Options may include:

  • Antacids: This OTC medication is recommended to relieve symptoms of mild heartburn and mild GERD. They should not be used for severe symptoms or every day as they can lead to side effects like diarrhea or constipation.
  • H2 blockers: This medication reduces the amount of acid in the stomach and helps heal the esophagus. H2 blockers can be prescribed by your healthcare provider or bought OTC.
  • Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs): This medication also reduces acid and helps heal the esophageal lining in people who have GERD and is often used for long-term treatment. This medication can be bought OTC or prescribed by a healthcare provider.

Be sure to go over the risks and benefits of the medication you plan on taking with your healthcare provider.

If medication and lifestyle changes don’t help your heartburn, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery. Most surgeries try to strengthen the valve between the esophagus and stomach.

In some cases, even with treatment, heartburn can come back.


If you wake up with heartburn, you may have a burning feeling in your chest, neck, or throat and a bitter taste in your mouth. You may also have additional symptoms if you have GERD, a condition involving frequent acid reflux.

Heartburn may be caused by another condition, or triggered by stress levels, certain foods, or other factors.

See your healthcare provider for a diagnosis if your symptoms are getting worse. Lifestyle and diet changes, as well as medications, may be used to treat your condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it normal to have heartburn every day?

    Occasional heartburn is normal for a lot of people. However, if you have heartburn every day, you may have GERD. Proper diagnosis and treatment are needed.

  • When should I be worried about heartburn?

    Occasional heartburn isn't usually a cause for concern. However, if your heartburn is persistent, recurring, or accompanied by wheezing, hoarseness, or vomiting, talk to a healthcare provider.

  • Does drinking water help heartburn?

    Staying hydrated helps with overall digestion. However, drinking large amounts of water at once can make heartburn worse. It's best to drink small amounts throughout the day instead.

  • Is it normal to wake up with heartburn during early pregnancy?

    Yes. Pregnancy hormones can cause the opening of the stomach to relax. This allows stomach acid to move up into the esophagus, causing heartburn.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cedars-Sinai. Hiatal hernia.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Heartburn.

  3. Poh C, Allen l, Malagon I et al. Riser’s reflux - an eye-opening experience. Neurogastroenterology &Motility. 2010;22(4):387-394. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2982.2009.01446.x

  4. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Symptoms and causes of GER & GERD.

  5. UCSF Health. Heartburn diagnosis.

  6. Nemours KidsHealth. How can I deal with heartburn during pregnancy?

By Yvelette Stines
Yvelette Stines, MS, MEd, is an author, writer, and communications specialist specializing in health and wellness.