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
2Lions avatar

I am 56 yo male former college athlete and was diagnosed with paroxysmal Afib in March, 2007 with limited episodes predominantly brought upon by alcohol (esp Red Wine at the beginning!).  After a couple of ER visits for the initial episodes, my cardio prescribed 25 mg Atenolol to manage these episodically (without heading to ER). These episodes have gone from one every other year to one per year to 4-6 per year to now 1-2 per month.  

Rarely drink since diagnosis and have a fairly disciplined diet (haven't eaten red meat in 30 years) and mostly fish, veggies, high fiber cereals.  I have been monitoring via BP wrist cuffswith a resting BP of 125/75/53; stress echo data showed no concerns.  My cardio suggested I begin a regimen of 81mg of aspirin daily though somewhat non-compiant.  Having never been to an EP however, am going to schedule an appt ASAP to review ablation alternative to limit progression of AF.

When I have the AF episodes; my heart is like a fish out of water and monitor readings spike to 190/110/150 at the very beginning until Atenolol kicks in within 45-60 mins and then lowers to 150/90/100  in next 30-45 mins to eventually get down to 135/85/70 while still in afib for 6 to 10 hours and self-converting always.  There is never any chest pain or shortness of breath; just very anxiety producing.  Mostly happening at night around bed time but more recently getting out of shower after working out in afternoon, stung by a jellyfish at the beach (!) or after playing a round of golf.  I usually convert when I am sleeping and have never requried external support to get back to NSR (save for the 25mg Atenolol).  Some are 'milder' than others. Definitely see advantage to sleeping on right side v left.

I am convinced the dehydration has a direct effect with alcohol both as a sugar source with dehydrating.  Also started vitamin regiment with Mg/K/Ca.  Wife has sleep apnea with c-pap and my sleep issues are non-existent though an accomplished snorer...  I wake up feeling refreshed and rarely get up in middle of night.  My Cardio wants to do an sleep analysis just to ensure there is no underlying issue.

Two questions:

1.  while not in pain, my BP readings seem extremely high and while it always comes down, I fear the damage to the heart as the episodes are becoming more frequent.  Does this happen with others?  Crazy to see the numbers staring back at you, though no orther symptoms outside of heart playing the bongos in my chest and trhe anxiety of waiting for rates to subside.

2. Can any provide a reference for an EP in the New York Metro area.  My Cardio is a generalist and my experience is they usually refer the EP in their practice.

Thank you.

SurfandTurf avatar

I am 55 year old male and was diagnosed with paroxysmal Afib in March, 2019 and had ablation surgery in November 2019. The ablation surgery was "somewhat successful" in that it reduced my afib significantly. Prior to surgery I would have some 5 minute, some 15 minute and some (rare) 4-6 hour episodes. After ablation surgery, most of my episode were 5 min to 15 min and some (occassional) 1 hour episodes. Alcohol sets off my afib 100% of the time so I no longer drink alcohol.  No caffeine. Recently, I tried a very simple diet:  oatmeal in the morning with blueberries and rasberries and almond milk, at lunch I have an almond butter and jam sandwich with apple slices and a vegetarian dinner.  NO snacking.  NO processed foods. NO high sugar foods and NO high salt intake. My afib episodes have been reduced by 99% down to the occasional 30 second episode that resolves itself almost immediately.  My laymen's theory is that blasts of sugar and salt were the cause. Consuming lots of sugar can cause the body to release the hormone epinephrine, or adrenaline, which increases heart rate.  There was a Swedish study that demonstrated those with the highest levels of salt in their diet had a higher rate of Afib (study author Tero Paakko, from the University of Oulu in Finland).  It has only been 2 weeks so the jury is still out on whether this will last, but so far so good.  I am also going to bed by 9pm and getting up to walk 2 miles each morning. I used to have to get up in the night and "walk off" a bad Afib episode.  That has not happened in 2 weeks since I started this diet.  I always believed diet could radically reverse heart conditions, but I am actually experiencing this first least for now. I was considering a second ablation, but if this keeps up I will not go ahead with that second surgery.  I am on NO medications.  I will keep you all posted! 

MellanieSAF avatar

Since many of us are starting to get the COVID-19 vaccine, or soon will, I figured we should put up a thread to talk about it.

Lately, I've been asked a lot whether it's OK for those with afib to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In all my research, I have not seen anything to indicate that it would be a problem. However, I would make sure to stay hydrated, as getting dehydrated coupled with any stress involved in getting the vaccine might kick off afib. And, with fever being one of the possible side effects, that is doubly important.

Since there is a concern about the side effects, I'll share below my own experiences so far.



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