Waking Up with Heart Pounding – Is It Dangerous?

When you're sleeping, you may experience a lot of things even when just laying in bed. Not only does sleep get you the proper amount of rest and energy for the day to come, but it also has you dreaming and going everywhere!

Unfortunately, sleeping isn't always good dreams and good rest. Sometimes, people start waking up heart racing and at a start! While this may be a sign of a nightmare, there might be even more underlying causes as to why it happens.

So, should you worry about these palpitations and see a doctor? Before that, you can try to evaluate why you wake up with such a start! Read on as I talk about why one starts wake up  with heart racing and feeling anxious.


How Does One Wake Up With Their Heart Racing? Is It Normal?

wake up heart racing

Imagine this: You come home from work and cook yourself dinner. After a few hours, you head on to take a good night's sleep to get ready for the day ahead. You feel like you drift off and expect a full eight hours of sleep.

Suddenly, you get up to a start, with your heart racing and sweating a LOT. Not only that, but you might feel anxious and worried, sometimes even confused. Sure, it may have been a nightmare, but do you recall what it was? Or if you even had a dream at all?

When you wake up with your heart racing, it's a bit worrying. Not only that, but it's either difficult to fall back to sleep, or to get up feeling relaxed. Heart racing when waking up is not a joke; if it isn't a sleeping condition, it can detriment your sleeping patterns!

But why does this happen and what can you do to stop it?

Why You're Waking Up With Your Heart Racing?

The usual symptoms when waking up with heart race would be palpitations and shortness of breath. Sometimes, you simply get up feeling confused and anxious.

So, why does this happen? Here are the reasons why:

Sleep Apnea

wake up with heart racing

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleeping disorders that interrupt your sleep due to abnormal breathing patterns. One of the main symptoms would be snoring and not breathing for a few minutes at a time.

When you stop breathing for a while, then you awake and immediately sit up, your blood pressure rises. It then increases your pulse and heart rate.

Sleep Apnea is NO mild condition and can be fatal if not treated properly. It not only does it affect your heart rate but increases the chances of heart failure as well.

Stress or Emotional Triggers

When you feel stressed or nervous, your heart rate begins to grow. Whether it's excitement or anxiety, it produces adrenaline that keeps your heart going.

So if you happen to feel stressed or excited before you sleep, the chances are that you'll wake up with your heart racing.

Not only would emotional triggers cause you to awake with your heart racing, but it might also cause more pain and disrupted sleep.

Nightmare or Night Terrors

This is one of the most common reasons why your heart races. If you have suffered from a bad dream, the feeling of worry or fear makes your heart rates rise. Sometimes you'll wake up to a start, while other times you'll forget the nightmare but still wake up in the morning with your heart beating fast.

Besides your heart racing, you may get up to a sweaty body and rapid breathing. Also, it might disturb your sleeping pattern and might even cause injuries if you have a history of sleepwalking or moving around.

Atrial Fibrillation

woke up heart racing

Atrial Fibrillation is a common type of abnormal heart rhythm when your hearts parts can't supply it with oxygenated blood. Once the circulation begins to increase, you start to palpitate, which may happen while sleeping until you wake up. 

Hormonal Changes in Women

Hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy or menopause may make your heart rate go faster. This is a temporary feeling that will go away after going through the process and changing your eating and exercise habits.


waking up with palpitations

If you have just recently started taking medicine, then one of the symptoms might be palpitations or an abnormal heart rate. There's no need to worry though, as this is a common side effect of medicines.

Diet and Workout Regime

The types of food or sinks you consume before sleeping play a role in how you sleep and the way your heart works. When taking in caffeine, spicy food or recreational drugs may cause your heart to beat faster, even while you're sleeping and once you wake up.

Even exercising before sleeping can make your heart beat faster when you wake up!

Heart Disease

wake up with racing heart

If you regularly wake up with your heart palpitating, then you might be at risk of a heart illness, or you're suffering from a previous heart attack. It might be a warning sign of a heart problem.

Low Blood Pressure or Sugar

Both of these are related to your heart, with one of the main symptoms being heart palpitations. The reason why your heart beats fast is that your body is trying to fix the problem. It usually happens when you lack sleep, skip meals, or have too much insulin.

Other Health Conditions

waking up with pounding heart

There are other types of sicknesses that may end up causing heart trouble, which results to palpitations when waking up in the morning. It may be hyperthyroidism, anemia, fever, dehydration, or diabetes.

How to Stop Waking Up With a Racing Heart?

If you wake up with your heart racing, here are some tips on how you can regulate your heartbeat and prevent it from happening again: 

  • Change Your Eating and Exercise Habits
heart races when i wake up

Do NOT consume any form of caffeine late in the day. Also, it's best to eat at least three hours before going to bed. Don't exercise before bedtime and choose to do it in the morning.

Try eating sleep-inducing foods before bed if you're hungry, such as nuts or dairy.

  • Reduce Stress

Instead of focusing on worries and stress from work, try to have a bedtime routine to relax and ease yourself into calm sleep mode slowly. Turn off anything that emits noise and put your phone on silent.

Using a white machine and essential oils can help let your body mitigate into a quiet and palpitation-less sleep. This will also contribute to reducing night terrors.

  • Consult Your Doctor
waking up with heart palpitations

If the symptoms persist and you still suffer from heart palpitations, then it's best to ask your doctor. He may change the prescribed medicines he gave you (if they cause rapid heart rates). Or, he may have you take a new drug to allay the heart rate and diagnose your condition.

If it is a heart problem, then it's better to be safe than sorry by asking your doctor about it.

In Conclusion

Protect Your Pillows

Getting enough sleep is crucial for your wellbeing, but there are underlying factors that may stop you from doing so. When waking up heart racing and feeling very anxious, then it may be time to have it checked or to follow better sleeping habits. Not only will you wake up feeling comfortable, but you are assured of a well-rested night without waking up to a start.

I hope that this article shows you why people begin waking up with heart race and what you can do to help prevent it from happening again. So if you happen to suffer from waking up heart racing and uncomfortable, then evaluate why it happens and follow these tips to stop it.

If you enjoyed the article or have any more questions about waking up to a start, then comment down below. I would love to hear what you have to think.

16 thoughts on “Waking Up with Heart Pounding – Is It Dangerous?”

  1. Thank you, I can rest better now knowing what my symptoms may be,I enjoy reading your article about my symptoms and will surly be reading more of your columns in the future.

  2. You given me more insight into what may be contributing factors to tachycardia while sleeping. Blessings

  3. I have problems going back and forth from insomnia to falling asleep at times when I feel I have no business even feeling tired, when that happens I feel extremely lathargic. I was diagnosed with PTSD from waking up with my fiance passed away right beside me in bed. I was told by my psychiatrist at the time that this was the cause of my heart racing. Not only does my heart race I feel like my entire body is viberating inside and I get a sick feeling in my stomach. Since the PTSD diagnosis I also have been diagnosed with AFib from one ER doctor and then also I’ve been diagnosed with a 1st degree heart blockage, which a separate ER doctor said I didn’t have either of these heart problems. I was suppose to see a cardiologist but since I do not have health insurance this is hard to do. Right now I have several conditions happening that are keeping me from working. I’d love to have my sleep cycle return to normal and have hopes of that alone helping other conditions I have. I’ve had ER doctors run tests to see if I’ve had a stroke before because I had every symptom except that of slurred speech and then the type of doctor to read the tests wasn’t even at the hospital. Is there anyone who can offer me insight on how to get the proper testing I need done?

  4. Excellent article. I suffer from panic attacks and just recently started to wake up like I’m in the midst of one. Very scary stuff. I have medicine to deal with anxiety but waking up with a heart beating hard/feat etc is awful
    I also have MS. Not sure that’s contributing

    Thanks again for your help

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