If you or a loved one is experiencing irregular heartbeats, dizziness, or a fluttering in your chest, this may be a sign of atrial fibrillation (AFib). AFib is a common heart rhythm disorder that increases your risk for stroke fivefold. It’s critical to prevent or treat AFib, since stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. There are several causes and risk factors of AFib, including physical and emotional stress, hormones, and certain drugs. More recently, researchers have discovered that getting a poor night’s sleep leads to an increased risk for AFib as well.

The Research Behind AFib and Sleep

Through reviews of studies published over the years, researchers have discovered that people diagnosed with AFib show signs of waking up more frequently at night than those who don’t have heart problems. Worse sleep quality means more restlessness and less REM sleep, and it can be an indicator of who could potentially develop AFib.

Sleep apnea is another source of concern when it comes to AFib. Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing stops and restarts abruptly during your sleep, and it severely hinders the life of those who have it. While researchers aren’t sure why sleep apnea may increase risk for AFib, studies have shown a link between the two conditions.

Poor sleep has also been linked to other heart disease risk factors, like high blood pressure, obesity and stroke. Some researchers believe that disrupted sleep schedules can put additional stress and strain on the body, especially the heart. This can lead to inflammation and increases risk factors for AFib.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep May Help Prevent AFib

Whatever the reason, improving your sleep quality can help prevent AFib and other cardiovascular diseases. By taking a few simple steps to sleep better each night, you can improve your heart health and feel better all day long.

Exercise

Working out is great for your body and mind—and it can also help you get a good night’s sleep. By making sure your body is getting the right amount of exercise per day, you can ensure your body feels tired when you want to sleep.

Avoid screens at night

When it’s time to turn off the lights and go to sleep, the last thing our brain needs is more information and more entertainment. Checking your phone stimulates the brain so you feel more active and awake. Even just a quick check can engage your brain and prolong the time until you sleep. Cut off screen time at least 30 minutes before bed.

Avoid caffeine later in the day

There’s a catch-22 situation when it comes to caffeine and sleep, given that caffeine is commonly used to fight fatigue. Research shows that those who consume more caffeine have reduced sleep, and that people who have reduced sleep consume more caffeine. The effects of caffeine can occur even when you consume it earlier in the afternoon or evening. One study found that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime reduced total sleep time by 1 hour. These effects also can be stronger in older adults. The older you get, the longer it takes your body to process caffeine.

Practice mindfulness and mediation

Stress may also keep you up at night. Practices like mindfulness or deep breathing exercises can help you relax right before bedtime. Studies have shown that sleeping habits improve dramatically when participants are taught to respond to sleep disturbance with mindfulness skills, so give that meditation app a try.

Protect Your Heart Health: Check in Today

Have you been tossing and turning in your sleep, and you’re worried you might have the symptoms of AFib? At Heart Rhythm Consultants, we value your health and wellbeing above all else. Our experienced team of doctors always stand ready to assist you in any questions about your heart health. Schedule an appointment and speak with a care coordinator today.

About Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A.

The experienced electrophysiologists of Heart Rhythm Consultants, P.A. have been serving West Florida including Sarasota, Venice, Tampa, Port Charlotte, and Sun City Center for over 15 years. Our specialty cardiologists, or EP doctors, help patients manage their abnormal heart rhythm conditions, whether they suffer from arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation (AFib), or other irregular heartbeats. Dr. Dilip J. Mathew, Dr. Antonio Moretta, and Dr. Rajesh Malik perform arrhythmia treatments like cardiac ablation, cryoablation, and implanting pacemakers or defibrillators. Dr. Mathew has performed nearly 5,000 complex cardiac ablations. View our office locations in Sarasota and Venice, Florida.