Gassy at Night? 9 Steps to Take

Everyone produces gas while digesting food and, once formed, and that gas has to go somewhere. Throughout the day and night, normal amounts of gas pass through your body unnoticed, but any build-up of excess gas usually makes itself known. If it passes through your mouth, you burp.  If it passes through your rectum, well, you know what happens.

Gas in your body comes not only from the breakdown of foods in your digestive tract, but also from swallowing air. If you snore or have sleep apnea, you may swallow a lot of excess air during the night. During the day, if you smoke, chew gum, experience a lot of stress, eat or drink quickly, or eat too many foods that don't sit well with your digestive tract, you risk feeling gassy later in the day.

If you have certain medical conditions, such as sleep apnea or irritable bowel syndrome, or any condition that makes it difficult for you to digest or absorb a particular food or nutrient, you may be producing more gas than your body can comfortably handle. If you experience a lot of stress, or hyperventilate for any reason, you may swallow more air than your body can easily expel.

Intestinal gas can cause uncomfortable bloating and, when released, may fill the room with an unpleasant odor. If you have a disorder such as sleep apnea, you must correct the condition to regulate your air intake and prevent excess gas from entering your body. If diet or lifestyle habits are at the root of your bloating and gas overload, however, there are steps you can take during the day to avoid having problems at night:

  • Chew slowly. Eat at a relaxed pace and chew your food completely, with your mouth closed to avoid gulping in excess air.
  • Eat yogurt. Excess intestinal gas can result from too few or too many of certain types of bacteria altering the conditions in your digestive tract, according to experts at Harvard Medical School. Yogurt and other foods that contain live active cultures, or probiotics, may help restore the normal balance of bacteria and may also reduce bloating.
  • Wash your beans. Presoak dried beans in water to cover and cook them thoroughly (until very soft) in fresh water. If you use canned beans, pour them into a sieve or colander and rinse them several times in running water before adding to a recipe.
  • Watch your fiber. While high-fiber foods such as dried beans and whole grains are among the most nutritious foods you can eat, too much of a good thing can cause your digestive tract to rebel. If you're trying to get more fiber in your diet, you may find yourself full of gas. Increase fiber slowly, over several weeks, to give your body a chance to adjust.
  • Cut the sugar. If your digestive tract is overloaded with carbonated beverages, candy or other foods that are made with high-fructose corn syrup, you may have trouble absorbing it all and end up experiencing bloating and gas. Natural sweeteners found in many types of fruit can also increase the amount of gas in your intestinal tract if you eat too much. Artificial sweeteners, such as sorbitol, can also cause gas build-up.
  • Take ginger or mint. Ginger, whether it is fresh or dried and ground, has been used for centuries as a natural aid to digestion. Use it in cooking or to make a tea. Peppermint tea made from dried leaves or peppermint oil capsules, taken as directed before eating, may help reduce gas and discomfort from bloating.
  • Quit or cut back on smoking. If you smoke, you are inhaling excess air along with that toxic cocktail of chemicals.
  • Reduce stress. Mind-body exercises and relaxation techniques, such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation can help you cope better with any stress and anxiety you experience and ultimately help reduce the physical symptoms of indigestion that result from these and other psychological disorders.
  • See your doctor. If none of the steps you take at home give you permanent relieve, talk to your doctor to find out if you have a digestive disorder or other condition that may be causing a build-up of excess gas, or if any prescription or over-the-counter medication you take on a regular basis could be upsetting your digestive system. Your doctor may also be able to suggest enzyme supplements that will help ease digestion.



Harvard Medical School: "Preventing Gas and Flatulence." Harvard Health Publications. Oct 2007 Web. Oct 12 2011

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Gas in the Digestive Tract

University of Maryland Medical Center: Peppermint