Thread regarding vagal AF / left side sleeping

I spent most of last night reading through posts and came across one regarding vagal / joint AF. Good post. At the end of one of the replies a random question was thrown in at the end ' do you sleep on your left ' ? So random there had to be a reason to be asked I felt.

I don't believe anyone replied to this question. I wish I could remember the poster or the title but I can't, other than know Bobd replied on the thread stating ' classic vagal ' symptoms to the OP symptoms.

In any case can I throw this question out there....

My earliest memories of discomfort going back two or three years ago was the inability to sleep on my left. If I did it set off them pesky Morris men in my chest and felt like I was laying on a balloon under my ribs and that somehow there was no room inside and being crushed almost. I simply rolled over and never followed it up though.....

Wish I could remember.... Once on top of my AF concerns I shall address my lousy memory !

22 Replies

  • What is interesting is that for everybody who finds it hard to sleep on left side there is another on the right. I suppose it is either the heart being constricted or stretched depending on which side you lay on. If only AF was more helpful and affected us in similar ways things would be so much easier but we all seem to be affected in different ways and to a widely differing extent.


  • Interesting! I often wondered about the subject.

    I can't seem to be able to sleep on my left either. Then, I cannot sleep without my head on a raised position (propped up). I often wondered if someone of us have blood pooling around the heart.

  • I certainly noticed more intense symptoms from being on my left when in AF..... I felt it a lot more..... I've never slept on my left much though, ultimately I wake up on my back or my right hand side.

  • My very first episode of AF began the moment I turned to my left side as I got into bed one Sunday night in 2002. It only took one more time of an episode starting in the position to keep me from sleeping on that side ever again. When you think about getting a procedure done, like an echocardiogram, they do it while the patient lies on the left side because that brings the heart closest to the chest wall. That irritation in some people, obviously not for everyone, is enough to trigger an episode.

  • Bob is right- it varies!

    I have vagal AF and am best sleeping slightly to the left!!

  • If I am getting gastric symptoms, bloat and discomfort an better on m my left as this position encourages stomach to empty but then I remember posts about people going into AF lying on L side!!! It doesn't affect me at all up to press.

    Sleep well. Wendy B

  • Hi Sugarlump, yes, I'm one of those whose heart will start jumping if I sleep on the left. I have a feeling that it would prefer me to sleep on my back but my arthriticky knee says no! :)

  • I used to have severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine, thoracic mainly in my case). I could not breathe if lying on my right, but when I started having AF I either became very breathless when turning to my left or else went into AF so........not a lot of choice! Since having an operation to straighten my spine that has improved a lot but when I had the last major episode I mentioned that turning on to my left side had set it off and the cardiologist said a lot of people say that. I also found that stretching up over my head for any length of time seemed to bring on AF later so I guess it is something to do with pressure on the heart or lungs. It would be interesting to know how many people with AF were originally diagnosed with asthma?

  • I was diagnosed to have asthma and I refused the drugs.... several months later they agreed, I didn't have asthma!

  • Hi there Yes i was originally diagnosed with asthma after suffering a very bad chest infection ,That then changed to fluid retention in my lower abdomen ,I started to pile the weight on around my girth [most depressing] Then I had an emergency appointment at the doctors my own doctor was away ,on seeing the lo-cum ,I was diagnosed with AF and at the hospital within 24 hours Im sure i have had it for at least 6 years but have only been treated for the last 18 months JUst had pace maker and now waiting for ablation ,I see my consultant tomorrow regarding amiodarone ,they are horrendous ,Take care Love poppy storey

  • I was diagnosed with asthma which I do have but when I complained of breathlessness my asthma meds were increased as no one would believe I had a heart problem, don't think that helped!

    I am also sure I had AF since I was quite young, sadly now my children in their thirties seem to be affected but at least I know what the problem is so they have support.

    Hope you get sorted out, poppy storey, I think I am lucky compared to others I 'meet' here.

  • I have vagal arrhythmia, not AF though, and before the drugs I'm on now which have smothered it, I could not sleep on my left, sometimes I could sleep on my back, and I could always sleep on my right.

  • Problem on the left side for me.

  • How interesting !

    Yes SRMGrandma THis is so true. I was always worried the timing of any procedure would not pick anything up as one of my triggers is also simply lying down / going to bed at night. Also if while sitting if I come of centre point and lean towards the arm to the left that sets it off.

    Fortunately the positions of the echo and my recent angiogram set the ' snakes on acid ' of immediately. As horrid as this was I was pleased the cardio could actually see and record what was happening. Although he says the report will come in as fuzzy and unreadable. Bittersweet really....

  • Yes, I've experienced problems lying on my left side. One factor may be the effect of the weight of the liver - our biggest organ - lying heavy over the heart and stomach. I know this can lead to indigestion after a meal. I'm pleased to say that my condition has improved enough now that I can sleep on my left side for periods without discomfort, which makes a nice change! I have also jettisoned one pillow but keep it handy in case.

    Mrs Gilly

  • Ah pillows yes, now that's another thing. I find myself waking through the night, not sure what wakes me, to find I am heaving my self to an almost upright position to be comfortable enough to try and go back to sleep. Everytime I slip down I wake. Maybe I need a skyhook keeping me in upright position all night ! Consequently I find I have gradually added more and more pillows, they have more beds pace than I do now it seems. It's like sleeping on the side of Mount Everest

  • I have a hypermobile sacroiliac joint, so I learned a few years ago to sleep with big cushions under my knees (chair like position lying down). That with the slant for the head and chest to be slightly raised works very well for me. Though I do feel like I am on deck chair... and on a bad night on the Titanic! for the calm nights - it keeps the Extrasystoles quieter.

  • You are not alone there! I have learned to sleep as well with support for my back and head... If I only put my head up it will result in neck and back tensions. Mine also starts racing the moment I turn over in the morning, whether to my side or onto my back. Hope you find a solution which works well for you!

  • I am unable to sleep on my left side too. It kicks AF off and wakes me up. I have had TIA 's in the night too.

  • I've lost the plot now and don't know which side I get vagal on and tell me about it with pillows I've had all manner of them different shapes and sizes I just go to bed these days and hope for the best! :-)

  • I think I shall try one of those pregnancy V shaped pillows, supported by ordinary ones at the side, all tapering into the centre, like the old fashioned hospital bed. I figure if I can form a wedge to keep me upright so I can't slide down from or out of, might give me a fair crack at a half decent nights sleep.

    All I need now is the energy to go shop for one tomorrow ....

  • I can't be sure if my sleeping position affects my heart rhythm or not. However, I do sleep with a special neck pillow! The wedge shaped memory foam type.

    I've tried all sorts of pillows including the v shaped ones and although the one I use now appears firm, not squishy and plumpy( are they real words? : ) ) like goose down but I no longer get neck and shoulder pain.

    My best buy is a 4" memory foam mattress topper which has made my bed like a luxury nest that you sink into and it makes any sleeping position ultra comfy.

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