Incline Bed Therapy for Acid Reflux, GERD & Circulation

Jun 04, 2017

Incline Bed Therapy

Inclined Bed Therapy is the simple practice of raising the head of your bed by four to eight inches in order to improve circulation throughout the body while allowing you to sleep comfortably. You most likely would have come across this idea in the form of a commercial wedge pillow for acid reflux, but this natural treatment can offer the user a number of health benefits.

In particular, those who suffer from GERD or acid reflux often benefit from Incline Bed Therapy because it helps to keep acidic gastric juices from rising up the esophagus. It is also said to offer better circulatory system health than lying entirely prone, as the body somewhat relies on gravity to power the arterial and venous systems of the bloodstream. A wedge pillow is one solution, but various means of elevating your bed (the whole thing) are also described below.

Natural Cures: Incline Bed Therapy may be good for digestive issues such as GERD, sleep apnea and snorers, edema in the legs, skeletal and spine disorders or injuries, back pain, and respiratory conditions.

Acid Reflux  

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Posted by Anthony (Mysore, India) on 12/15/2014
5 out of 5 stars

In response to Saba from who wrote:

Question: About INCLINE BED THERAPY isn't it the same thing as what sleeping on pillows does? Will I have the same effect if I sleep on a firm pillow that is 6inches higher rather than having to raise my bed? Thank you if anyone has any answer

Saba, using a firm pillow will only bend your neck and raise your head. The rest of the body remains prone/flat. Inclining your entire bed by raising it at the head makes the entire body inclined. The feet are lower than the heart, the stomach is lower than the throat, etc. This is what gives you all the benefits being discussed here. I have been sleeping on an inclined bed since 6 months now, and my heart burn / acid reflux is gone! I was prescribed this by a gasteroenterologist as against acidity regulating tabs/syrups.

Replied by Linann
Newton, Nc
5 out of 5 stars

Hi, my husband suffers gerd and we have raised our head of bed with bricks, he has no gerd now, but I cannot sleep like that, I wake every morning with shoulder/ low back pain, I told him I couldn't sleep with him after 24 yrs of marriage, lol I'm going to get a twin bed to put next to him so we can still be together, have you heard of anyone else not being able to sleep in an inclined bed? Ty

Replied by D

Linann, when I first started the IBT I too had shoulder, back and neck pain for the first week to where I almost set my bed back down. Then it was gone! I can say I woke up one morning and had no pain at all. it was through researching I found out this is normal as sleeping inclined like that elongates and aligns the body. I started out at a 6" incline and when the pain started I put the bed down to 4" until it was gone, then went back up to 6" with no pain at all. Maybe you can tough it out for at least a week to ten days and, if your hubby can manage his gerd at the 4" raise for the week and then back up to 6". I so promise you the pain you feel will go away, and it is so worth the several days of getting use to sleeping like that and the aches and pains.

Posted by Todd (San Jose, CA) on 02/12/2008
5 out of 5 stars

I have acid reflux only at night. I wake up with a sore throat in the morning. I put bricks under my bed making the head of the bed higher than the foot. (Actually I used one brick and one piece of plywood cut the shape of the brick. However the floor sloped from the foot of the bed down to the head. Thus the net effect was one brick. It was the sloped floor that gave me this idea.) My acid reflux went away. I no longer woke up with a sore throat. This worked for over five years. Then I slept without the bricks for a week. My acid reflux came back. I replaced the bricks. However, my acid reflux had grown worse. I now need two bricks, instead of one.

This might work only for mild cases. I tried it right away as soon as I got acid reflux.

Sleeping position might matter as to whether this cure works. I sleep on my back. I did not adopt sleeping on my back because of the acid reflux. I had slept that way most of my life.

Does anyone know whether some sleeping positions are better than others for acid reflux, i.e. back, left side, or right side? Which way does the connection between the stomach and the esophagus point? Is it the same for all people, or does it vary?

Replied by Laurie
Springfield, Va.
5 out of 5 stars

Acid Reflux Remedies: Hi, In answer to Frank's question about sleeping positions, it is thought, though doctors aren't sure why, that sleeping on the left side is best for acid reflux. Re the bricks under the bed. As someone else on the site pointed out, it is imperative to raise the head of the bed, either by using bricks, or by purchasing a foam pillow that is raised at the head. The recommended height is from 6" to 8", depending on tolerance. My husband just put the bricks under the front legs of my bed, as I found the foam pillow to be uncomfortable, and I finally did not wake up with acid in my mouth, and a sore throat. I have not tried the natural remedies listed on your site, but I plan to! I HAVE used a drug called Zegrid, which is Omeprozole and baking soda in a long-acting capsule, but I think I might prefer to just try the baking soda and see how that does. Thanks for all the ideas.

Replied by Jeannie

To cure acid reflux, take a flat teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda every 12 hours for 6 weeks. It will be gone!

Replied by Robert
San Antonio , Texas

Could it be that you have silent reflux and not acid reflux? Silent reflux only impacts you at night because the flap in your stomach is not closed and lets the acid out. So you don't actually have too much acid. If you have acid reflux it impacts you at any time of the day or night because you have an acid problem.

Posted by William (Klamath Falls, OR) on 05/07/2006
4 out of 5 stars

Lifted head end of bed about three inches. Helps, doesn't cure, night time acid reflux.

Replied by Maggie

Inclined bed therapy requires the bed to be raised a minimum of 6 inches at the head of the bed.

Replied by Mmsg
Somewhere, Europe

Maggie, I've seen impressive results in taking down swollen feet, with less height.

Back Pain  

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Posted by Cindy (Illinois, Usa) on 06/22/2016 89 posts
5 out of 5 stars

I've been sleeping on an incline for over 10 years and love it. I doubt I could sleep flat, even if I wanted to. But I just discovered something AWESOME about my inclined bed. It helped but I actually cured my indigestion, acid reflux and hiatal hernia with water- I haven't had any of the acid symptoms since I drank two glasses of water, the very first day I heard about it. That said...

I used to go to the chiropractor 2 or 3 times per year for neck problems and such but I saw an inversion table on tv and they talked about neck problems but ONE woman said that it cured her carpal tunnel - which I also had - so I got an inversion table and, sure enough, no more carpal tunnel AND no more visits to the chiropractor. They immediately bleeped out the woman's comments about carpal tunnel but I had already heard it so...but that's not the AWESOME part!

The AWESOME part is that with an inversion table, you don't have to go completely upside down to get the benefits. And because it is so big and awkward to set up and take down, I'd been procrastinating with regard to actually doing it but one day I was particularly sore and trying to figure out something I could do to relieve the soreness enough to actually wrestle the inversion table up and usable and I looked at my "inclined bed" and thought that since I don't actually have to go all the way upside down, I wondered...if I laid on it the wrong way around...would that provide some traction? And it DID!! And it was AWESOME!!

I laid with my head at the foot of the bed, rolled up in a sit up to sort of stretch out my spine. Then I put my arms straight over my head for a few seconds and stretched, then twisted my torso one way and stretched, then the other way and stretch and then I pull my knees up to my chest for just a few seconds, got up and felt like a new woman! It wa shocking!! I couldn't believe it!

So, now, after a day hunched over the keyboard, I lay the wrong way on my inclined bed and stretch. It's like a whole new life - a whole extra half a day of feeling good and sleeping good and just overall awesomeness!

Replied by Maria Cuevas

Hi, Was wondering if you could elaborate on your comment about the two glasses of water that provided relief from acid reflux. When did you drink the two glasses of water and how often during the day. Was the drinking of the water related with your experience with the inclined bed? I get night time acid reflux. Thanks for any info you can provide..


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Posted by Martin (Dublin.) on 01/02/2013
5 out of 5 stars

Good Morning from Ireland. Last february(2012) I found that my left Calf muscle was starting to look roaring red and purple and I won't mention the pain and itchiness. I had heard years ago about elevating your feet in order to aid the return of blood to the torso. I googled this to make sure that it was what I needed and I came across your site and read and re-read the IBT to make sure I had it right so I said i'd give it a try and said i'd log my progress and gave it a trial of a calender month.

The first couple of nights I didn't sleep all that well as my body wasn't used to the position BUT during those couple of days I wasn't tired and had noticed that my calf condition was improved. But by week three I abandoned the trial and decided that the IBT was the way forward for me. It has given me Comfort for my calves and a brilliant nights sleep. So i'd just like to say thank you for your information and wish everyone would give this a try. Martin

Posted by Mmsg (Somewhere, Europe) on 06/27/2011
5 out of 5 stars

when I would get swollen ankles, I would elevate my feet in an "L" against the wall. It helped. but now that my bed is 2 inches higher at the head, I find I get up with non-swollen ankles even without elevation.

Replied by Mmsg
Somewhere, Europe
5 out of 5 stars

It's been about a year since I have raised my bed headboard about an inch or an inch and a half. I had read about Inclined Bed Therapy here and on Andrew Fletcher's site and figured a small lift won't hurt.

Well, I'm happy to report that even now in the HOT summer days, when my feet tend to swell, they are "drained" to normal by morning. Previously I would put them up by the wall, forming an L while laying on my back. Last night my feet were so swollen, I was sure I would have to do that, but wanted to "test" out the IBT on such swelling, and I am happy to report that this morning the swelling was gone!

So even a small incline does do something good!

Replied by Gavin
Manganui, Northland, New Zealand

Did you read the post for green tea as an excellent way to keep the swollen ankles at bay?Im sure it was on this site. It took about six cups a day.

Posted by Shetawk (PHILADELPHIA, PA, USA) on 11/30/2008
5 out of 5 stars

Incline bed... I raised the foot of my bed by putting shoe boxes between the mattress and boxspring. Foot swelling went away. Didn't want to lower the head by putting risers under bottom legs because it may have caused reflux.

Inclined Bed Therapy  

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Posted by Gokhals (Ca, Usa) on 09/02/2015 36 posts
5 out of 5 stars

Inclined bed therapy has really helped my health as well as many of my friends' health, here in California. I have been sleeping inclined for a few weeks now and its been amazing. Most of my "fatty" thigh lumps have disappeared (many after just one week on the inclined bed), my sleep became deeply restorative, my silent GERD vanished. I do not cough and clear my throat any more, I do not snore any more. My sleep is deeply restorative. I do not get up twice in the night to go to the bathroom any more. I could swear my skin tone has improved.

Two of my friends have greatly improved cellulite on their thighs and varicose veins.

The nature of my urine has changed as well. I collect my a.m. urine to compost (we have a drought, and I read in a book written pre WWII that urine makes great nitrogenous composting material! ). Well it used to be much more dilute before. In the last few weeks, minerals have precipitated out and stuck to the sides and bottom of the urine jar. I should really measure the specific gravity to be more precise. But it appears that by sleeping in this position, you secrete more concentrated urine, with a lot more mineral density.

I wanted to thank Mr. Andrew Fletcher, evangelist of this simple idea for transforming my life.

Replied by Mmsg
Somewhere, Europe

Gokhals, how high is the head of your bed off the floor?

MS, Back Problems  

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Posted by D (Wisconsin) on 11/08/2016
5 out of 5 stars

I started IBT about a year ago after being diagnosed with MS and searching the web for "natural" ways to manage it I came across Andrews video and the written info. I had nothing to lose by trying it and, now, I gained everything! I have not had to be treated (medication wise) for the MS, I was also at the door step of having to have back surgery, which I did not want and kept putting it off. Now, I don't need an excuse to put off surgery as I have no more back issues.

This is the by far the best remedy for so much I have ever came across and, it's free! I don't have to have surgery and as of date I don't for see myself having the need for MS medication/therapy.

I can't ever see myself sleeping flat again...One thing thou that is really hard is sex. We were never "schedulers" and now when the bed is not raised it's fun time. Yet, those times when one wakes and the mood is there the incline becomes a challenge. Sometimes to the point where we end up on the floor. If anyone is as bold as me and can give suggestions it would be greatly appreciated.

All in all, our health; body, energy, sleep and dreams have been renewed.

Multiple Cures  

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Posted by Robert (Chula Vista, Ca) on 04/05/2015
5 out of 5 stars

After using incline bed therapy (6 degrees), my blood pressure has gone down from 145 to 112. No more pills! Been on it for 6 months. Large varicose vein has gone down in size. I have twice the energy now and I my restless leg ordeal has gone away. I'm hooked for life.

Replied by Earthling

It seems so counter-intuitive that raising the head of the bed would improve circulation, etc. Since our organs are all in our upper body, I would think raising the foot of the bed would be more helpful.

However, I've done some reading on IBT and was impressed enough to decide to give it a try for a month or so, to see if I notice any benefits. I raised the head of my bed yesterday, so we'll see what the next month brings in terms of any noticeable benefits.

Replied by Beachmama
Bodega Bay

I would like to know Earthling usa's results as IBT seems to be counter-intuitive to me as well ...

Posted by Jennywren (Perth, Western Australia, Australia) on 05/31/2013
5 out of 5 stars

Yay. After reading about Inclined Bed Therapy, my husband and I raised the top (head) of our bed by six inches last week as we'd heard there were multiple health benefits with doing this. We bought new, taller bed legs but others have used bricks, books and planks of wood. So I can report back after 10 days:

- I don't get heartburn at night anymore (not to say I don't still have a hernia or reflux, but I just never suffer from heartburn at nighttime)

- My husband's loud snoring has greatly improved (now a gentle murmur).

Others have reported improvement to varicose veins (meant to take 4 weeks: I'm waiting! ), deeper sleeps, more vivid dreams, fixing their backs, fixing their oedema (swollen feet/ankles) and less up and downing to the toilet.

Hope this helps, it's such a simple solution!

Posted by Mario (Dallas Tx, Usa) on 02/20/2013
5 out of 5 stars

I have been sleeping in a incline bed for few mounts , so far good improvement, back pain, gone acid reflux better, sleep apnea much better snore gone. The problem is I also have leg pain and to relieve that, I need to put pillows under my legs. I hear that may causes problem later on. Need some opinion, please.

Replied by Mmsg
Somewhere, Europe

Mario, you can try sleeping one or two nights without the pillows and see what happens. When I first started putting the bed on an incline, I was afraid of swelled ankles. But to my surprise, the swelling went down - totally counterintuitive - whereas in the past, only putting the feet up a wall while lying flat, got the swelling down.

Replied by Mario
Dallas Tx, Texas

Thank you, I will try that.

Replied by Jenny
Idaho, US

So the incline is at the head? I thought for edema , it was supposed to be legs above heart, which I have tried and that doesn't work. Also with such a small bedroom, the incline at the head will look nicer than at the other end!

Posted by Steve (Las Vegas, Nevada) on 11/24/2012
5 out of 5 stars

My Wife and I started Incline Bed Therapy a about a week ago and both notice we are sleeping better through the night, less snoring (we both used to wake each other up with loud snoring) less back pain, we waking up feeling more energetic and with a generaly better mood than before. We used 4 inch wooden bed lifters. Steve

Posted by Beverly (Old Hickory, Tennessee/usa) on 10/09/2009
5 out of 5 stars

My husband and I started sleeping on the incline - head about 6-8 inches higher than feet approximately 10 days ago. What we have noticed so far:

1. husband no longer snores (did not sleep with him for several years on consistent basis because of this, even though he had $500.00 dental snoring device after trying every over-the-counter remedy available)
2. We are both sleeping through the night without having to get up and use the bathroom except on rare occasions - we are able to go right back to sleep if we do get up - best few nights of sleep I have had in years.
3. We are both starting to remember our dreams, which I have not had access to in years
4. Stools are more compact without being constipated
5. I am able to sleep in my own bed now instead of the sofa, which I had difficulty doing even when hubby was not in the bed
6. Have started to notice a decrease in husband's blood pressure - will continue to monitor since he is on medication for this
7. Have noticed that I do not seem to be as thirsty during the day

We are pretty much hooked. Will continue to observe how we do with this different mode of sleeping and report any further benefits.

Replied by Tim
Denton, Tx

Regarding remembering your dreams -- I have sleep apnea, and have found that when I am using my mask, my sleep is deeper with fewer dream recollections. Prior to using the mask my entire night was like an endless stream of movies one dream after another.

Interesting eh?

Replied by Malikitheguy
Kc, Mo, Us

Just going out on a limb from what I've researched on dreams, my guess is this is because you're not noticably waking up as much so you don't recall all the dreams and the intervals know what I mean? hope that helped a little.

Replied by Dave
Roan Mt, Tn

Been to that movie theater! Tom Cruise and I have fought many bad guys over the last few years. I will miss Tom as I now sleep quietly with my mask.

Replied by Buket

I have been experiencing the same problem with dreams. Could you plz tell what kind of mask you are using? Thnx

Replied by Manzoor
Mississauga, On, Canada


I have seen your very good site for IBT. I started therapy by placing support under my head bed side. Now can I also put hard wood plank sheet over my mattress under cotton bed sheet for extre benefits? Please reply,

Thanks, Manzoor

Posted by Cindy (Kansas, USA) on 10/04/2008
5 out of 5 stars

Just wanted to share my experiences with "incline bed therapy" that I read about here on earth clinic.

I've found IBT to be one of those things that one should just do, do now and do for the rest of their lives. I am 100% convinced that people should not sleep flat. Ever.

After sleeping inclined (6 degrees)for 3 1/2 weeks I slept flat for one night. 4 glaring differences were 1) I had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, 2) I looked about 20 years older when I got up the next morning, 3) I was extremely dehydrated when I got up (I'm a big fan of the watercure and hydration, in general), and 4) what I thought was fat ankles - which I've had my entire life - was actually edema, which completely disappeared.

I was so amazed by the improved skin tone and younger appearance in the face and the fact that my ankles were no longer fat that I failed to noticed that I wasn't getting up in the middle of the night with a great urge to go to the bathroom. Nor had I noticed that the struggle to keep hydrated had disappeared when I started sleeping on the incline. After sleeping flat for one night, I felt as if I couldn't get hydrated all the following day.

I don't have any health problems, so I can't speak to that, but if one's circulation is disrupted when lying flat, as Mr. Fletcher discovered, then it stands to reason that even a "healthy" person would benefit from a 50% increase in the time the body spends in a state of proper circulation. I can only imagine what it would do for people with serious health issues!

Aside from the occasional experiment, I will definitely be sleeping on an incline for the rest of my life. And to clarify, that is a straight incline. It isn't the "hospital bed" position where only the head is raised.

EC: Thanks, Cindy -- new remedy page created! Question: what did you use to raise the head of the bed 6 degrees, bricks?

Replied by Cindy
Kansas, USA

I'm using books. I have a lot of huge, old reference books that work really well. I've also designed three permanent "bed incliners", but I haven't tried any of them because I can't decide which one I want to build. See:[email protected]/

For indigestion, I definitely suggest the watercure. I had indigestion from my early teens and got rid of it, for good, with my first two glasses of water. I seldom drank plain water until a couple of years ago.

Mr. Fletcher noted that some medical professionals will put a terminally ill patient's bed in the flat position to "help them along". Basically, to kill them.

Replied by Cindy
Kansas, USA

Forgot to clarify one point: The edema went away after sleeping on an incline for about a week - not when I slept flat for one night.

Replied by Sandy
In the sticks, Nevada

I could not find out who this "Mr. Fletcher" was on your site -- the one that Cindy from Kansas kept referring to -- I did a Google search and found this video about him on youtube -- I've inclined my bed tonight & let you know how it works.

EC: Cindy was referring to Andrew K. Fletcher.