The Secret Cause of Stomach Gurgling That No One Talks About

You’ve had a great meal. And after being full, you decide to lie down for some rest. But, a sudden gurgling sound startles you. After the initial surprise, you realize that the source of the gurgling is none other than your own stomach.

If this happened to you, then you’re not alone. This stomach gurgling when lying down most commonly happens during the digestion of the food that you take. But a gurgling feeling can be indicative of other conditions too.

With that being said, let’s dig deeper into Stomach gurgling while lying down.

The movement of fluid and gases inside the intestines is what causes the gurgling sound. You can think of it like water moving through a pipe. The moving water makes a rumbling sound that resonates through the pipe.

Stomach Gurgling When Lying Down: Why Does This Happen?

Every one of us had experienced a gurgling in the stomach at least once or twice. And this sound or feeling might be more pronounced when laying down. This gurgling can be quiet, but at times it’s so loud that even the next person can hear it.

stomach-gurgling-when-lying-down

Whatever may be the case, if this happens regularly, it’s natural that you’ll be concerned. However, in a vast majority of the cases, this gurgling sound is due to the normal digestion process. This normal gurgling sound is called Borborygmi. Let’s see how this works.

Borborygmi

A quick google search will tell you that Borborygmi is the sound that your intestines make as fluid and gas passes through. This sound is often described as a gurgling, rumbling, or growling sound.

This sound is also called bowel sound or peristaltic sound. This sound is always present in healthy individuals even if you can’t hear it! In most cases, this sound is not loud enough for you to hear.

In fact, doctors always listen to this bowel sound using their stethoscopes. It is alarming if you don’t have any bowel sounds. Because it can indicate that there are abnormalities in the gut.

borborygmi

So, how does this sound come to be? Let’s look at how food moves through your gut to better understand this.

Movement of Food Through the Digestive Tract

The food that you eat is in large chunks which your body can’t absorb. So, the food has to be broken down. Your digestive system does this important job.

You break down the food as you chew it in your mouth. The saliva moistens the food and also helps break it down. Then the food passes through the esophagus to the stomach. In the stomach, the muscles in the wall of the stomach contract. This crushes the chunks of food and liquifies the food. The digestive enzymes in the stomach also break down protein.

After that, the food moves to the intestines. The first part is the small intestine which is a narrow tube about twenty feet in length. This long tube is folded and coiled inside your abdomen.

food-movement-through-digestive-tract

The next part is the large intestine. As the name suggests, this tube is wider than the intestines. However, it is much shorter than the small intestine. After the large intestines, the feces finally exit your body through the anus.

So, What’s the Origin of the Sound?

The food remains inside the intestines for the most part. That’s because the main absorption of the nutrients takes place here.

There are various enzymes in the digestive juices released in the intestines. These enzymes break down the components of your food. For example, there’s starch in the pasta that you had. Starch is a form of carbohydrate. But your intestines can’t absorb the starch. So, enzymes break this starch down into glucose molecules. And your intestines can absorb glucose.

So, these enzymes can chemically break down the food that you eat. And this chemical breakdown often produces various gases. These gases can’t escape. So they move through the intestines until they can leave through the anus. The movement of these gases is partially responsible for bowel sounds.

Another reason why this sound is heard is due to the movement of the intestines. The walls of the intestines contain smooth muscles. These muscles are arranged in two layers. One is longitudinally arranged along the length. And the other is arranged circumferentially around the diameter.

The rhythmic contraction of these muscles is what propels the food forward. These are involuntary muscles, so you can’t feel the movement of these muscles. However, these muscles are almost always active.

The movement of fluid and gases inside the intestines is what causes the gurgling sound. You can think of it like water moving through a pipe. The moving water makes a rumbling sound that resonates through the pipe. Similarly, moving fluids due to the contraction of the intestinal muscles can create a sound. This gurgling sound resonates through the intestines and can be heard.

Why Does It Happen to You When You Lie Down?

Now you might be wondering, what does this have to do with lying down? Well, as you’ve read, borborygmi is something that happens all the time. So, when you’re lying down, you’re just hearing it more.

When you’re sitting or standing up, the weight of the upper body falls on the abdomen. However, when you lie down, that pressure is no longer there. This might be responsible for the gurgling sound being more pronounced.

Also if you have the habit of lying down after eating, you might hear the gurgling sound more. The reason is that the food that you ate stimulates your intestines to move more.

Other Causes of Stomach Gurgling

Borborygmi can be due to some other causes too. Conditions that increase gas production or the contraction of the intestines can be the cause. There will be symptoms other than borborygmi if you have these conditions. Let’s take a look at some other causes:

  • Diarrhea causing increased intestinal contractions
  • Gastritis can increase gas production and make you feel bloated. This can cause constant stomach gurgling and burping.
  • Intestinal obstruction can increase the force of contraction of the intestines to pass the food. There will also be abdominal distention, pain, bloating, and constipation.
  • Drugs, especially aprepritants directly make your gut muscles contract more.
  • Problems with digestion like celiac disease, lactose intolerance, etc. There will be 
  • Steatorrhea can increase gas production due to fat malabsorption. You’ll also have foul-smelling greasy stool in this case.

What to Do About This Stomach Gurgling?

These stomach gurglings are normal most of the time. However, as you’ve read, they can be due to some diseases as well. So, if you have any other symptoms or have non stop stomach gurgling, it’s best to see a doctor.

But, if you’re otherwise healthy, then you can look into some home remedies for this stomach gurgling.

How to Stop Stomach Noises?

Now, let’s take a look at a few things you can do yourself to reduce these stomach noises:

  • Try to avoid lying down immediately after a meal. This will help you control stomach gurgling at night. And also, this practice decreases the risk of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Try to eat and drink slowly and chew properly. That way, you can ensure that too much air doesn’t get into your stomach.
  • Try to eat on more or less a scheduled routine. Skipping meals or eating too much at once can increase the borborygmi.
  • Try to drink plenty of water throughout the day. But make sure to not drink too much at once.
  • Try to avoid foods that increase gas production or make you feel bloated. If you’re lactose intolerant or have celiac disease, try to follow your recommended diet. Below are some foods which can increase borborygmi:
    • Soft drinks
    • Artificial sweeteners
    • Dairy products
    • Certain vegetables like beans, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
    • beer
    • Foods rich in fructose and sorbitol
  • You can try consuming some natural herbs and oils. Some of these can decrease the gurgling sound in the stomach while lying down. A few of them are:
    • Mint tea
    • Ginger
    • Cinnamon, etc.

FAQs

Below you’ll find answers to questions we get asked the most about stomach gurgling when lying down.

Can your stomach growl when you sleep?

Yes, it is possible, your stomach can growl when you sleep. The growling is due to the contraction of the muscles of your intestines. And these involuntary muscles are always active, even when you’re sleeping!

How to make your stomach stop growling after eating?

Try to eat your food slowly, chew properly, and drink plenty of water. You should also try to not lie down immediately after a meal. You may try avoiding foods that increase gas production and borborygmi.

How to stop stomach noises?

Stomach noises are quite normal. But they might get too loud sometimes. In that case, you can try eating slower, drinking adequate water, avoiding certain foods and try to consume healthy herbs and oils.

When should I be worried about stomach noises?

Stomach noises are normal. However, if they are too loud and occur regularly, they are causes of worry. If the sounds appear suddenly, or if you have other symptoms, you should see a doctor. Other alarming symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, etc.

Final Verdict

Stomach gurgling when lying down is not a cause of worry in most cases. It happens due to the fluids and gases moving through your intestines. However, sudden or too loud stomach sounds can be worrisome.

So, it’s best to see a doctor to rule out any disease. Even in the absence of any disease, this stomach gurgling can be annoying. But not to worry.  By following some dietary and lifestyle changes, you can decrease these sounds to a minimum.

Samin Ishmam

Samin Ishmam

I'm an aspiring medical student. Studying for tests is a huge part of my life right now, but I try to keep up with the latest innovations in science by reading research papers and attending conferences. My interests lie mainly in cardiology among other fields of medicine. And I love being able to help people get through the low points in their lives, which is why I've chosen this field as my profession. Outside of studies, I love writing and trying to spread knowledge on healthy living among everyone.

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