It seems like such a simple thing. Just go to bed early in a very dark room, and stay in bed late. And viola! (as we musicians say) you're cured. Now there's a remedy that sounds like it's worth a try. But as I am finding out, it's not so easy to do (especially for a musician).
It all started with an article in the LA Times about a study that was conducted by a doctor named Pereira who compared the effects of a cocktail of naturally occurring substances including melatonin with omeprazole (Prilosec) on GERD. (You will need a subscription to access the full article.) In the study, it was found that the melatonin worked just as well, if not better, than the omeprazole. I clipped this article out not realizing that in a month or so I would be hit with an attack of severe acid reflux myself.
In researching the connection between melatonin and GERD, I discovered several other studies that attested to the efficacy of melatonin to sooth the esophagus and protect it from digestive juices that might find their way there. It also suppresses stomach acid from being formed in the first place, which makes sense, since your stomach shouldn't be producing acid while you sleep.
So in the all-American modern medical way, I thought, Hey, just take a pill—melatonin can be had at my local grocery store. But I also found that taking melatonin can cause your pineal gland to stop producing its own so I wanted to be careful.
Then I discovered Lights Out by TS Wiley which I have mentioned previously. If you can follow my thread here, this led to the realization that we have so separated ourselves from our animal heritage that we have forgotten how to sleep! We have forgotten that it is not normal to stay up late at night with the lights burning and push ourselves to work day after day with only 6 or 7 hours sleep, not even 8, when our paleolithic ancestors would be sleeping or resting for the full 12 to 14 hours of darkness that happens in winter.
So I decided to try to get more sleep, encouraging my pineal gland to make more melatonin, and thereby curb my reflux symptoms. I indulged in my body's desire to go to bed very early—9 pm most nights and made myself stay in bed, in the dark, until 7 am. Actually, you don't have to be asleep to make melatonin, you just have to be in total darkness. And I got a little help in the beginning with a melatonin supplement. It worked like a charm! In fact, I am off the supplement now and sleeping better than ever. If I have acid reflux symptoms during the day (I believe it will take awhile, like months, to fully recover), I watch my carbs and take the other various remedies (DGL, bitters, etc.) that I mentioned earlier.
Oh, and by the way, no TV before bed. The light is too bright. Only gentle, non-stimulating activities—meditation, not exercise; reading, not web-browsing; knitting, not practicing. But... next week I will have children's concerts in the morning and rehearsals at night that last until 10:30 pm. No going to bed early, and no staying in bed late. It will be tough.