Unfortunately, at some point during our lives, most of us will experience the unpleasant experience of throwing up at night.
We might feel like vomiting for multiple reasons, including sickness due to a stomach bug or overindulging in alcohol. But whatever the cause, one thing is for sure; it’s not always easy to get back to sleep afterward.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the reasons we might throw up and examine some of the best ways to recover and fall back to sleep safely and soundly.
How And Why do we Vomit?
Vomiting is an unpleasant but necessary bodily function; without it, our lives would be seriously jeopardized.
The trigger to vomit isn’t located in our gut. It’s found in our brains in a stem-like structure called the medulla. When the medulla signals to our bodies that something harmful is inside us, the stomach begins to contract to empty whatever is causing the problem.
Throwing up is the body’s first line of defense against toxins, but ingesting something harmful isn’t the only reason a vomiting episode can strike.
When we view or smell something revolting, the medulla can interpret this as a physical threat and signal our bodies to throw up. Likewise, watching someone else throw up can sometimes trigger the same response in us.
One of the most common causes of vomiting is gastroenteritis , often called ‘stomach flu.’ It’s an inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract caused by either a virus or a bacterial infection. If the GI tract is inflamed and irritated, eating and drinking can cause the stomach to contract, resulting in vomiting. Sometimes, this can even happen when the stomach is empty. In this case, the lining is so irritated that it causes what is known as ‘dry heaving,’ where nothing (aside from maybe bile) comes up.
Another common cause of vomiting is excessive alcohol consumption. The body works to expel the alcohol-soaked contents of our stomach to minimize the damage.
Sometimes, vomiting can be triggered even when our stomachs are in tip-top shape. A typical example is motion sickness, often when traveling in a car or on a boat. Instead, the culprit is our brains. It’s due to a deregulation of our senses. The brain perceives movement while the eyes focus on a stable scene. As a result, the brain releases a whirlwind of stress hormones, which can cause nausea and vomiting in some people.
Migraines, headaches, and pain can also trigger vomiting, head injuries, and concussions.
Is it Safe to Fall Asleep After Vomiting?
In most circumstances, it’s safe, and even advisable, to fall asleep after vomiting at night. As long as you are feeling better and have replenished any lost fluids, getting some shut-eye can help your body to recover from its ordeal.
That being said, if you find yourself throwing up after a head injury, this could be a sign of concussion. In this case, you should avoid falling asleep and seek medical attention immediately.
Likewise, if you’re throwing up due to overindulgence in alcohol, falling asleep (or passing out) immediately could lead to choking on your vomit. Instead, it’s essential to stay awake, drink plenty of water, and continue throwing up until all toxins are out of your system. Then and only then should you try to sleep.
Is it Safe for Children to Fall Asleep After Vomiting?
Like adults, children may want to fall asleep after sickness and vomiting. However, they should be supervised until you can be sure that their vomiting episode has stopped. If there is no possible chance of concussion, it is safe to let your child sleep.
What Should I do After a Vomiting Episode in the Night?
Many people will feel better after throwing up, as whatever was causing the upset stomach has been expelled. If you still feel nauseous after prolonged vomiting, stay close to the toilet or keep a bucket by your bedside if you need to throw up again.
Once you feel the vomiting episode has passed, rinse your mouth with water and clean your teeth. The stomach acid can cause a burning sensation in your throat and mouth and is very abrasive on your teeth, so brushing well before considering going to bed is best.
Suppose you’ve been throwing up for a prolonged period. In that case, you may have lost a lot of fluids, putting you at risk of dehydration. So, be sure to replenish yourself with water if your stomach will tolerate it. Also, drink slowly. Take small sips and see how each settles on your stomach before having more.
You may also need to replenish the calories lost during a vomiting episode. However, if you plan on falling asleep immediately, avoid eating food until you wake up in the morning to give your body time to digest and avoid the risk of a repeat episode.
What is the Best Position to Sleep in After Throwing Up?
After throwing up, you may feel tired and depleted of energy, and going to sleep can help you recover. However, pay careful attention to your sleeping position to lessen the chances of throwing up again at night.
The best sleeping position is on your side, propped up with pillows at a 45-degree angle. It ensures that stomach acid stays down in your stomach rather than traveling upwards, which can trigger your gag reflex and damage your esophagus.
If this position is too uncomfortable, you can also try lying on your side with your head only slightly elevated.
The most important rule to remember is never to fall asleep on your back after throwing up. It increases the risks of swallowing, inhaling, or choking on your vomit, which can be fatal.
Tips for Getting Back to Sleep After Throwing Up
If you throw up during the night, you may be tired and ready to go back to sleep. But if you still feel nauseous, what’s the best way to drift off and get the rest your body craves? Here are some tried and tested tips.
1. Keep a Glass of Water by the Bed
After throwing up, you may be dehydrated, especially if the vomiting is accompanied by diarrhea (e.g., gastroenteritis).
Electrolytes are essential to keep your body functioning as it should. After a period of prolonged vomiting, our body’s stockpile of electrolytes may well be depleted.
So, it’s essential to replenish your body with fluids. Take small sips of water, or choose a clear beverage that contains electrolytes, such as coconut water or Gatorade.
Avoid hot drinks, caffeine, and anything containing dairy until you are sure that you are fully recovered.
2. Keep a Bucket by the Bed
Hopefully, you won’t throw up again, but keeping a bucket by your bed is wise if you’ve had a vomiting episode in the last few hours. This way, you don’t need to stumble to the toilet or clear up an awful mess on the floor.
3. Eat Bland Foods
You may be hungry after throwing up as your empty stomach grumbles for sustenance. It’s especially true when trying to get back to sleep after throwing up. But after a vomiting episode, it’s essential to go easy on your GI tract and only eat a small portion of bland food that will cause the least irritation.
Many people with an upset stomach swear by the BRAT diet, which stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Clear broth soups, saltine crackers, and potatoes are also good choices.
Never eat spicy, fatty, or sugary foods after throwing up. It’s a surefire way to trigger another vomiting episode. Instead, save those foods for the next day, when you will hopefully wake up feeling recovered.
Throwing up is one of the most unpleasant parts of being sick, and whatever the cause, it can interfere with a good night’s sleep.
But as important as it is to get plenty of shut-eye, it’s not always advisable to fall asleep after throwing up, especially if your sickness is due to a concussion or excessive alcohol intake.
If you think you might be concussed after a head injury, do not let yourself fall asleep, and seek medical attention right away. If you’re throwing up due to too much liquor or beer, drink plenty of water, and try to stay awake until you are sure the vomiting has passed.
For other causes of vomiting, follow the tips and tricks discussed above. Hopefully, you will wake up after a good night’s sleep feeling much better.