AFib and Heart-Healthy Sleep Habits

AFib and Heart-Healthy Sleep Habits

Creating Routines for Heart-Healthy Sleep Habits

Although it may surprise you, for some people, getting good sleep can go a long way to lessen the AFib burden and reduce the number of atrial fibrillation flare ups you have.

Practice these healthy habits for improved sleep patterns that will also help give your heart the best odds for health too. Dr. Don Weaver, a sleep professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, advises everyone, particularly those who may want to improve their quality of sleep, to follow these basic guidelines:

Maintain a regular sleep schedule

It may seem rigid to be centered on a certain time for bedtime, but your body will naturally develop routines if you do, which can lead to better rest.

Wind down with routines that help signal to your body it’s time for rest

In the two hours before bedtime, find ways to allow yourself to start to unwind mentally and physically.

Make your bedroom quiet and comfortable

Dr. Weaver says, “Good sleepers cultivate strong mental associations of physical relaxation, mental calm, and good sleep with their bedtime, bed, bedroom, and bedtime rituals (like tooth brushing and setting the alarm clock). Most people can learn better sleeping habits by establishing and strengthening these same associations.”

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine products later in the day

  • The health risks of smoking, particularly for those with AFib, are well documented. Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant to your nervous system, and evening stimulants create brain activity that is incompatible with sleep.
  • Alcohol is not a productive sleep aid. Research has shown that although one to two drinks within two hours of bedtime may assist with falling asleep, it tends to disrupt a person’s ability to stay asleep and get adequate rest.
  • Also, Dr. Weaver says, “drinking alcohol before bedtime tends to relax the muscles of the throat and to suppress awakening mechanisms, thereby making snoring and sleep apnea episodes more likely, sometimes to the point of being life-threatening.”

Get adequate physical activity

Physical activity is not only good for the purpose of increasing your heart rate and helping you become more alert and focused, having a daily time for exercise helps your body recognize cues for sleep and rest more fully once asleep. Dr. Weaver adds, “In the interest of improving sleep, the best time to exercise is in the late afternoon.”

Better sleep leads to all-around better functioning, mood, and ability to manage the details of life. Taking small steps to improve the quality of your sleep is likely to reward you with an enriched sense of well-being.

Recent Discussions From The At Home Forum
teanderson avatar

I underwent pulmonary vein isolation 11/21/17. I felt great for 2 days then went back into Afib. I ended up in ER for an IV. I had a rough 7 days, then started feeling better. EP changed all my medications just to make sure they were not the cause of my problem. I went into Afib again in late January 2018 (again not feeling well and confirmed by EKG, IV again made me feel human). At that point, I was put on Amiodarone and Digoxin. I was exhausted so PCP  changed Digoxin to MWF only. That has been working well. EP and PCP agree to keep me on both medications and Eliquis until school ends as I have no more sick days. I went to EP at the end of April and he has me on a 30 heart monitor and is talking about transitioning me to a different antiarrhythmic or considering me for an epicardial ablation and be seen by another heart specialist. I guess I was expecting another ablation but thought it would be the same type, not a different ablation by a different doctor. Has anyone else experienced this?

Girtygirl avatar

Thanks to the many great minds here along with the wonderful information gained from the “Get in Rhythm Stay in Rhythm Patient Conference 2017”, I will be heading to Texas for an ablation by Dr. Natale. I am already blown away by the efficiency, education and kindness shown by his staff.  Obviously, I will be a bit nervous, but at the same time I know I will be in the hands of the best of the best. 


BillM avatar

Hello, everyone. I’m the new guy, Bill, and have some concerns and general questions for the group. My usual symptoms are skipped beats, sometimes coming every three or four beats, lasting several minutes  

Twice within the past five weeks, I’ve been hospitalized for four days due to uncontrolled AFib. The first time, my hear returned to sinus rhythm fairly quickly, the second time, it was several hours. I’ll concentrate on the second visit, which just ended yesterday. 

I’d gone to school Saturday morning at 9:30 to conduct a review session for my AP World History students (I’m a public high school teacher) in preparation for the upcoming AP exam, but after getting there the AFib began, slowly at first, but quickly ratcheted up to a full-blown episode. 911 was called, and I was quickly on my way in an ambulance.

I was in the ER by 10:00 that morning, surrounded by six to eight doctors and nurses all working feverishly. Details are a bit sketchy as my mind was a bit occupied, as you can well imagine, but there was talk of an emergency catheterization, which was called off as my blood work showed no signs of a heart attack. After several IVs and injections that helped calm down the AFib (heart rate was 120-140) I was admitted, sent to a room and put on a monitor. Sunday, they did an echocardiogram, and scheduled me for a catheterization Monday morning. Another sleepless night, this time with no food or water after midnight, but instead of the catheterization, they did a nuclear stress test, just as they had during the stay five weeks prior. 

Two cardiologists looked at my nuke test results, and were concerned about the pictures of my lower heart, and scheduled a catheterization for the next morning (Tuesday). After yet another sleepless night in the hospital (does anyone ever get any sleep in a hospital room?), my regular cardiologist came to see me, and was puzzled by the decision to cath me, seeing no difference between yesterday’s test and the one from March, which was identical to one I’d had two years ago. Never the less, the procedure went ahead, and results were negative. I was discharged that evening, with no changes in medications, or in anything at all. 

So here I sit, at my kitchen table, wondering why I spend so much time in the hospital with no apparent results. I was to have a loop recorder installed, but the doctor who did the cath (in fact, who has done all my caths and implanted both my stents) said that seemed superfluous as the purpose of the recorder was to determine I have AFib, which I clearly do. There was also mention of new medications, and possibly an ablation down the road. But other than that, no change in my meds, no advice on how to deal with further episodes or how to avoid them, and, to be honest, I feel a bit neglected and concerned. My questions to the group, then are: How do you deal with living with AFib? How do you contend with the possibility that episodes such as I had on Saturday might recur at any time? Are there any avenues I should pursue with my cardiologist? How do you kind folks stay calm when AFib hits for brief periods?

I feel badly coming here with so many questions as the new guy, but I was quite relieved to find this group as it helps alleve the feelings of being alone with this condition. I thank you all for your time, and wish you all good health, good living, and good friends. 

Oddly enough,


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