A blog by Thomas Boto, co-founder of Natural Rhythm
Ahhhh sleep. It seems so simple. Almost too simple. Surely just a few more minutes of sleep each night won’t cure my heart palpitations, right? Wrong. Sleep is important. I would argue that if you have heart palpitations, the first thing you should consider adjusting is your sleeping habits.
A large percentage of heart palpitations are caused by stress and anxiety. The less you sleep, the more you are prone to become anxious.
I can’t honestly say that getting more sleep instantly cured my heart palpitations. It didn’t. But it did help…a lot. And now that my palpitations are under control, getting the right amount of sleep is essential to keeping them under control. If my palpitations start coming back, the first thing I do is try to get more sleep, and more often than not that does the trick.
Unfortunately, when I first got heart palpitations, I couldn’t sleep. The palpitations were horrible. Really horrible. Every third beat was a terrifying reminder that I may be having a heart attack. I would lie awake for hours feeling my pulse, wondering if I should go to the emergency room or not. Sleeping less only made things worse. For some strange reason, I was convinced that if I sat up in bed the palpitations weren’t as bad. So I tried to sleep sitting up as if I were in an airplane, and we all know how well people sleep on airplanes. It went from bad to comically bad. I was miserable.
My wife finally forced me to try some relaxation techniques. I did breathing exercises, listened to calming music, and bought some great fiction books to take my mind off the heart skips. I also started taking magnesium before bed and I’m glad I did. It helped me relax a little. I tried all sorts of types of magnesium (pills, powder, etc.) but the one I liked best was Triple Calm Magnesium. I would take it with a hot cup of decaf tea and read my book till I was finally ready for bed. I even bought a sleep tracker to monitor my sleep patterns and the quality of my sleep.
My wife also bought me a sunrise wake-up light, and it is awesome. To me there was nothing worse, or more stressful, than hearing the morning alarm go off. I told my wife that I wish I could just wake up to the sun every morning, so she found an alarm clock that simulated the sunrise. It’s a bit pricey, but I have used it just about every day for three years and there is no going back for me. I love it.
I also wrote down a mantra that I made myself say over and over when I began to feel anxious while trying to sleep and memorized verses of scripture. It may sound funny, but it helped.
Honestly, it didn’t happen right away, but in a few weeks, I began to sleep normally again. My habit of staying awake worrying over palpitations gave way to a new sleep routine habit. It was the first major step in managing my heart palpitations.
SIDE NOTE: I didn’t try any sleep aids. They terrify me. I’ve read too many stories about people who took Ambien and started having crazy side effects like sleep driving or hallucinations. No thanks. There are even multiple (yes, multiple) websites devoted to stories of what people did while on Ambient. Crazy. So I just stuck to more natural remedies.
So what do you think? How has sleep (or the lack of sleep) affected your palpitations? Any tips or tricks to falling asleep?