Researchers are studying whether Apple Watch could help with GERD during sleep

man sleeping with watch

A new study is setting out to determine whether an Apple Watch can help people suffering from GERD by encouraging a specific position during sleep.

Researchers at the University of Amsterdam are currently recruiting people for a study to see if wearables devices like an Apple Watch can help encourage sleep therapy for those with GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.


As many as 80% of people with GERD experience unpleasant reflux symptoms while sleeping, affecting their quality of life. However, there are some encouraging signs that side sleeping can help. Specifically, sleeping on the left side of the body.

“When sleeping in left lateral decubitus position, the stomach is positioned below the esophagus, resulting in less reflux compared to sleeping in right lateral decubitus position,” the researchers note.

The Apple Watch comes into play because of an app called LEFT, which measures body sleep position and gently vibrates if wearers are sleeping on their right side. Basically, the app gently annoys wearers to teach them to avoid the right side of the body.

It’s worth noting that the research study is currently in progress, with an estimated study completion date of September 2025.

The LEFT app described in the study appears to be proprietary, since MyHealthyApple was unable to find the app on the App Store.

Similar Apple Watch GERD studies

Even though the study is in progress, similar research suggests the approach works. For example, one study published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found promising results.

In this study, the team used an “electronic sleep positional therapy wearable device.” This device vibrated when users slept on their right side. The method is the same as the Amsterdam study, but the study doesn’t specify the device as an Apple Watch.

Compared to a placebo therapy, using a wearable to gently encourage sleeping on the left side was found to alleviate nocturnal reflux symptoms. The randomized, double-blind study had 100 participants. The treatment had a “significant” effect on users sleeping on their right side.

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Mike Peterson
Mike Peterson is a writer, strategist, and certified yoga teacher based in San Diego. Before coming to MyHealthyApple, he was an assistant managing editor for AppleInsider and contributed to news outlets like iDrop News and AppleToolBox. He currently works as a media and public relations strategist for nonprofit companies and changemakers. When he's not writing, you can often find him on a yoga mat, at the beach, or spending time in the outdoors.


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