Is a racing heart keeping you awake?

Why am I so tired in the morning? Do you ask yourself this question every time you wake up? Is your heart racing? Then you might be suffering from atrial fibrillation, panic attacks or sleep apnea.

woman suffering with a racing heart in bed

These are common disorders that cause sleep issues as a result of a pounding heart. If you are suffering from shortness of breath or increased heart palpitations, it may disrupt your sleep patterns, leaving you feeling tired when you wake up.

Sometimes a pounding heart can be harmless if it occurs occasionally. However, if you are always waking up with your heart racing, it could indicate something more serious, so it’s important to seek medical advice. Your doctor may carry out different tests, including heart monitoring, to determine the causes of your condition.

Sleep apnea

This is a medical condition that is characterised by a shortage of oxygen while sleeping at night. It happens when upper respiratory muscles relax, resulting in your throat becoming blocked or narrower than normal. Hence, your body will get less oxygen – this may also result in reduced blood pressure.

As a result of these breathing issues, you may find yourself waking up suddenly with your heart pounding. If you are obese, it’s a good idea to try to lose some weight to relieve the symptoms of sleep apnea.

However, the best treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure treatment, a machine you can use at home.

Panic attacks

If you find yourself waking up with your heart racing, you may be suffering from panic attacks. There are certain medical conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypoglycemia that can cause panic attacks.

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The symptoms of panic attacks are usually nausea, racing heart, chest pain and shortness of breath. But try not to worry – although it’s undeniably scary to have these symptoms, they can be treated, so visit your GP in the first instance. Try to get seven hours of sleep every night and proper sleep hygiene – by this I mean setting a time to go to bed and wake up, making sure your sleeping environment is at the right temperature and light, and investing in a good-quality mattress.

Also, relaxation massages or yoga can relieve anxiety which can help prevent or relieve panic attacks.

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common arrhythmias, which causes your heart to pound faster. It may be caused by high blood pressure, abnormal heart valves or thyroid disease. You may find yourself gasping for breath because there is not enough oxygenated blood in your body.

As the circulation of blood reduces, you may develop increased heart palpitations. If you have this medical condition, electrical stimulations and other types of medications may restore your heart rhythm to normal.

How to avoid a racing heart

You can take preventive measures to avoid waking up with your heart racing:

Exercise regularly. Exercise is one of the best preventive measures – try to include some yoga to reduce your stress levels.

Adjust your lifestyle. Some food and beverages like alcohol and caffeine can trigger palpitations, so are best avoided.

Check your medications. Some of these can cause a racing heart – but don’t stop taking anything without consulting with your doctor.

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A racing heart can be really disruptive to your good night’s sleep, but a few simple adjustments and checking in with your GP will hopefully have you enjoying a restful night again.

Layla Parker

About Layla Parker

I'm the founder of A Sleepy Wolf, a site with reliable and useful information about sleeping and everything related to it, such as the therapies that improve your sleep, the ways of sleeping you should try, plus all the products you use every day that directly affect your sleep, your health and your life.