Why do I get nauseous at night?
No matter what time you experience nausea, it’s incredibly unpleasant.
The sick and queasy feeling it brings, the cold sweats, and just general negative feelings surrounding those symptoms can make for a long night.
Laying down to sleep but having to stay awake for fear that you might vomit is one of the worst feelings.
Nighttime nausea can be caused by a number of things, such as viral or bacterial infections, pregnancy, stress, and more.
We’ll dive into some of the common causes and remedies for this particular ailment in hopes that you can finally get a peaceful night’s sleep.
Common Causes of Nausea at Night
Many pesky things can be the culprit of your late-night nausea.
It’s important to try and understand what’s causing your nausea because different causes will have different treatments to actually cure the root problem.
Here are some of the most common causes:
- Stress or Anxiety
Likely the most common cause of nausea before bed is stress! Humans experience stress from so many different factors and stress has a very physical impact on the body.
The release of cortisol, the stress hormone, can wreak havoc on many different systems within your body.
You may see an uptick of physical manifestations of stress at night because your mind has less to distract it from all its stressors, unlike during the day.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD, also known as acid reflux, is caused by an esophageal muscle failing to work properly.
Your esophagus is like a valve, and when food goes down a healthy esophagus, the muscles close the valve so the food cannot come back up.
For those with GERD, their body fails to close the valve and they can experience nausea, vomiting, and heartburn.
If you’re struggling with GERD, avoid eating late at night because laying down right after a large meal makes it easier for the food and stomach acid to travel up your esophagus.
- Bacterial or Viral Infection
Germs are all around us, and we can pick up different bugs and sicknesses from our friends, strangers at the grocery store, or a random door handle in the mall!
If you’re experiencing regular nausea, it’s possible you could have a bacterial or viral infection that’s causing it.
If it’s viral, it will likely go away on its own with time, but if it’s bacterial, you may need antibiotics, so consult a doctor when needed.
- Food Poisoning
If your nausea is a one-off situation and it’s rare that you feel sick before bed, you might be experiencing food poisoning.
Look at what you have eaten in the last 24-72 hours and take note of anything that may have tasted funny or could be dangerous if handled improperly.
Eating undercooked meats or seafood can lead to food poisoning.
Perhaps you were served something that had gone bad at a restaurant or unknowingly ingested it at home.
Even if you can’t pinpoint the cause, food poising usually goes away on its own.
Make sure you’re getting plenty of fluids to help your body flush out the toxins that are causing your nausea.
A very common cause of nausea is pregnancy.
Often, in the first trimester, women experience regular nausea and vomiting.
In the United States, we refer to this as “morning sickness,” which is quite misleading.
Pregnancy-related nausea can happen at any time of the day, including bedtime.
Usually, pregnancy-related nausea gets more manageable later in the pregnancy.
If you’re experiencing excessive vomiting and unable to keep fluids down, or if it continues after the first trimester, consult your doctor as you may be experiencing a more serious condition.
- Medication Side-Effects
Everything we put in our body reacts with everything else we put in our body, and sometimes new things don’t react so well together.
If you are on medication or recently started taking something new that’s causing nausea, it could be a reaction to the medication.
Talk to your doctor to share what you’re mixing with your medication or ask about trying a new type of that medication that your body may react better to.
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When to Seek Medical Help
Feeling nauseous is awful, but it often subsides with proper rest, hydration, and time.
If you are experiencing nausea that lasts longer than a week or if it has become debilitating, it may be time to seek guidance from a doctor.
If you are noticing rapid weight loss, severe headaches, confusion, blurred vision, or sharp pains, these could all indicate something very serious, so don’t wait to go to the doctor.
Addressing the root cause of your nausea will vary, depending on what the root cause is.
If you’re struggling with GERD, a doctor will likely prescribe you an antacid or recommend surgery.
With anxiety or stress, it may be best to seek therapy to help work through the anxiety in a healthy way.
There are many different ways to deal with an ailment as broad as nausea, which is why it’s important to keep your doctor in the loop if it’s not going away on its own.
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Telling you to wait it out when you’re feeling miserable isn’t always the most helpful, but, lucky for you, there are some home remedies to help lessen the intensity of the nausea as your body works to heal.
- Try to avoid lying flat as you sleep. Propping your head up can help keep food down if you think you may be struggling with GERD.
- Stay hydrated. Drink small amounts of liquid since you may vomit up larger quantities, but your body needs hydration to heal, so this is critical.
- Try drinking ginger or peppermint tea. These are both known to settle the stomach.
- Eat a small amount of plain food before bed, such as a few crackers or a piece of bread. You don’t want too much in your stomach but having nothing at all can increase the feeling of nausea.
Feel Better Soon!
Whatever is causing this unpleasant experience, we hope you feel better soon!
The best things you can do now are get rest, stay hydrated, and monitor your symptoms to ensure they aren’t worsening.
Remember, it will probably go away on its own, but if it doesn’t, a doctor will likely be able to help.
Image credit – @Getty
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