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
Arline3366 avatar

Does anyone cut the 25mg table of metoprolol in half due to shortness of breath when walking and/or dizziness?  I asked my primary care dr and he did not recommend cutting the tablet because it may lead to AFib.  I plan to ask my cardio dr when I next see him.  I currently take 25mg both morning and night.  I'm in my 80s now and am wondering if it's too much.

Spencer avatar

Thor's final walk was early this morning.  My wife and I walked out onto a deserted beach near the house early this morning and spread his ashes on the beach. He loved this beach.  We had to stay in a hotel right across the street from this beach while we waited to buy our current house.   So we would walk each morning before work (4:30 AM), and he would walk off leash on the beach for miles.  He ran around like a puppy nut.  

Pix is from a few years back; we were coming home from a trail jog.   


bshersey avatar

1.) Doctors, EPs in particular, undersell ablation recovery. I had my ablation on a Wednesday. My doctor said I could resume full exercise on the following Sunday and start work Monday. Not quite. I'm four months out now and just starting to feel like doing more than my basic daily walking. I was exhausted and barely functional for at least a month afterward.

2.) Everyone's recovery is different. Some people have no pain. My mom has had four ablations and said she never had any chest pain. Others feel a lot of pain. Some people are up and running quickly. Others say it takes 6 or even 9 months to feel fully recovered. Follow what your body says first. Guidelines are just that. They aren't etched in stone.

3.) Be your own advocate with the medical folks. I took myself to the ER four times in the weeks after my ablation for chest pain. No matter how trivial some of the doctors made me feel, I am happy I did it. It got me to the front of the line for a nuclear stress test and a cardiac cath, which I should have had before the ablation. I passed both and now breathe a lot easier. Now my post-ablation pains are just another pain to deal with, not a potential cardiac event.

4.) Medications have side effects and if one isn't working for you, let your doctor know. You two can always try others.

5.) Forums like this are a big help. Once I found this community I was able to pose questions, get answers and share my pain - literally - with folks who understood. It gave me a lot more stamina and ammunition for dealing with the medical establishment on an ongoing basis.

Those are my top 5. I could easily have done 10. If you have any other knowledge to share, please go ahead and reply to me and the rest of the community.


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