Heart palpitations (or heart arrhythmia) are hard to live with, and they often get worse at night. I was surprised to find that good sleeping habits can help – and finding the best sleeping position for heart palpitation can make a huge difference.
Let’s take a look at how your sleeping position can help to reduce the impact of heart palpitations. I’ll also go into good sleeping habits in general so you can get the most restful night’s sleep possible!
What is the Best Sleeping Position for Heart Palpitations?
Put simply, the best sleeping position if you have the occasional heart palpitation is to sleep on your right side.
If you’re a left-side sleeper, like me, this might be tricky to get used to! But because your heart is on the left side of your body, sleeping on the left can actually bring increased awareness of skipped heartbeats.
So, if you do suffer from heart palpitations/arrhythmia, you’re more likely to feel this change in heart rate.
The same goes if you sleep on your back, although it’s not as prominent. I, however, absolutely hate sleeping on my back, so the only option if I were to start getting heart palpitations or another heart condition would be to sleep on the right instead.
How to Switch Sleeping Positions?
I know this is easier than it sounds. I have always slept on my left side, even if I’m trying to avoid it (for example, when I got a piercing in my left ear, I really needed to try to sleep on the right, but I always ended up back on the left somehow).
I would say don’t stress about it too much (and I know that’s hard if you have frequent heart palpitations to deal with). It may take you quite a while to get the hang of a new sleep position. There are a few things you can do to make it easier.
I would suggest creating a ‘wall’ with pillows, if you can, to stop you from automatically rolling over onto the left or flipping onto your back if that’s how you usually sleep. This can work really well if you’re dealing with some kind of pain, too.
In my pregnancies, I had to try to lie fairly still in order to avoid pelvic joint pain. A large, v-shaped pillow wedged between my legs kept my spine aligned and stopped me from moving around.
These pillows are super helpful to have around (they’re also great for propping you up when you’re reading in bed at night), and buying one may be the solution to help you stay in place. This is also useful if you’re trying to sleep after a surgery, for instance.
Heart Palpitations and Healthy Sleep
If you’re living with heart palpitations, you don’t need me to tell you how difficult it is. Healthy sleep habits can really help, while poor sleep can make an abnormal heart rhythm worse.
To ensure the healthiest sleep, I’d recommend the following steps:
- Let your bedroom be a space of calm: That means it should be cool, quiet, dark, and restful if possible. Think of it as a place you go to completely unwind your body.
- Limit exposure to screens before bed: I know this is tough (I often scroll through my phone late at night), but ideally, in the hours before bedtime, you should try to read a book or do something that doesn’t involve a screen.
- Don’t eat heavy meals two hours before bedtime: This will help you to have a more restful sleep.
- Destress before bed: I know this is tough, but try not to go to sleep feeling stressed. When I’m stressed, I write everything down in a journal I keep by my bed. This helps me to unload, and I often feel calmer before sleep arrives. Other people I know meditate or listen to calming white noise to help them to settle down. You can also use essential oils to create a sense of calm.
I’m a working parent, so I get that self-care often slips down the list of priorities. But when your body is telling you something, chances are, it would do you some good to listen. Slow down, try to reduce stress, and take care of yourself when you can.
This way, you will be more in tune with your body, and you will be able to notice if you start to get more frequent heart palpitations.
You can speak to a medical professional for more advice on managing arrhythmia. They can work with patients to create good habits and reduce symptoms. Also, they can give more specific advice depending on your actual diagnosed condition. For example, atrial fibrillation may need different management.
Frequently Asked Questions
I really hope this helps you to reduce heart palpitations at night. Here are some questions you might be interested in:
What are some common triggers for heart palpitations?
Some common triggers are:
• Stimulants like caffeine or some cough medications
• Strenuous exercise
• A fever
• Hormonal imbalances (think menopause, menstruation, or pregnancy)
• A thyroid imbalance
• Being sick or having a fever
Does sleeping on my back make heart palpitations worse?
Because of the way pressure builds in the body, laying on your back may bring on heart palpitations (this is an interesting fact about sleeping that I didn’t know!) This isn’t a given, however, and does vary from person to person.
Why do I get heart palpitations at night?
The pressure mentioned earlier can affect blood flow, and nighttime’s reduced distractions make it easier to notice irregular heartbeats. Many people, myself included, experience heightened worry and an increased likelihood of panic attacks at night. These nighttime panic attacks can be intense, leading to concerns about heart issues, possibly due to the calm and still environment that makes heart palpitations more noticeable during nighttime hours.
My Final Thoughts
I know how tough it is to switch sleeping positions, but hopefully, this has helped. While it’s not a given that you’ll feel heart palpitations more at night, a lot of people do, and small changes in your sleeping routine can really help.
As always, when it comes to medical issues, go to your doctor if you’re at all worried about your heart health/your atrial flutter: it’s vital to catch problems early and make sure everything is okay. And if you have any chest pain, get medical attention immediately.