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
TMM14526 avatar

Dear Support Network Folks,

I am new to this community and would greatly appreciate some input, experiences and answers.

Background:  I am 62 year old “high functioning” male (my docs words) and had a major heart attack 4 ½ years ago with a 100% blocked LAD (widow maker) I had a stent inserted and the doctor said that my very active lifestyle likely help save my life.  I am fortunate to now be retired and my daily priority is to walk, bike, swim, lift and do major puttering around the house.  After a long trip across the country this spring I got a herniated disk in my back from all that driving and bad posture that manifested itself in shutting me down from being very active starting July 11.  On August 18 after noticing occasional increasing heart palpitations I had a major episode where I was diagnosed with “Tachycardia: Atrial fibrillation with rapid ventricular response”, my BPM was 208 at one point and was somewhat jokingly told I passed my stress test.  Luckily I was treated in the ER with medicines (metoprolol) and self-converted back to normal sinus rhythm and was discharged that night.  Since then I have had an echo cardiograrn and had an appointment with an EP (Electro Physiologist). I was told I have AFib and my options are AAR (Anti Arrhythmic) drugs or the Ablation procedure, and if one doesn’t work try the other with the backstop option of a pace maker.  I now take metoprolol 3 times a day, as med splitting seems to work better than a single large morning dosage, 9am (50mg), 15:00pm (50mg) 21:00pm (50mg).  I never drink caffeine/soda and very rarely alcohol, no drugs or other lifestyle vices, except compulsive exercise!  My cardiologist who I really like and respect said the decision is up to me, but he recommends the Ablation, the EP said he might try AAR meds first.  So my wife and I decided on the Ablation procedure which is scheduled on Oct. 7.

My eight questions and requests for information/experiences are below;

  1. Could my AFib be either exercise or lack of exercise induced?
  2. I am watching for triggers, and it seems that after I take my afternoon or evening metoprolol dosage I sit down to rest and many times the AFib episode begins, I have never had a morning AFib episode. Have others experienced that?
  3. I also am noticing that it feels like I get a punched in the upper abdomen just prior to the onset of an AFib episode, is that what others are experiencing?
  4. I get bad headaches during the AFib episodes, my doctor said that is not typical, have others experienced this during the spells?  What might cause?
  5. Before the AFib diagnosis I was taking 50mg of Metoprolol every morning, now I take 150mg and I am very, very lethargic and light headed, I have to fight hard to do things, is this typical?
  6. During my almost daily AFib episodes after usually a brief very high BPM spike my heart rate goes up into the 130-150 BPM range then does down into the 70-90 BPM range many times before it settles back into my resting heart rate of 50-60 BPM?  Last night I had about 5 hours of this up and down heart rate. Is this a pattern that others have experienced?
  7. I was told getting an Ablation sooner while I am still having intermittent episodes likely leads to a better long term outcome, is that what others have considered to help decide?
  8. The lifestyle changes I have made are, to drink more water during the day, concentrate on my deep nose breathing and take 250mg of magnesium in the evening after dinner, plus I bought an Apple Series 5 iWatch for heart rate and EKG monitoring, are there any changes that people recommend?

THANK YOU, and I/we look forward to your replies!!!

PS.  I am on Eliquis, blood thinner

JudyKol avatar

I have never taken a flu or pneumonia  vaccine and am wondering now that I have been recently diagnosed with AFib if vaccines would be a good idea. And if so, which one or both?

rfedd avatar

After being on Amiodarone for roughly 18 months now, my cardiologist suggested getting a chest X Ray and blood work. No signs of Amiodarone toxicity. Lungs clear. A1c at 5.9 and PSA at .19. I feel very fortunate. Amiodarone working well.


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