Preferred sleeping side

Purely out of curiosity being that I've been told that sleep issues have a direct correlation with any kind of AF, I was thinking one day out loud about what would be the ratio with AF sufferers - pre and post ablation of what their preferred sleep position is, left side, right side or on ones back.

If sleeping on left or right side I was thinking what would be better, heart high sleeping on the right side or heart low sleeping on the left side.

Like does the heart actually work harder when sleeping on the left side.

I've always slept on the right side with the heart high and I've lived with AF for 10 years - from 2004 to 2014, now free of AF and are looking for ways for preventing AF ever returning.

What side does everyone prefer to sleep on?... lets see if there is a direct relationship to AF on which side we all sleep on, hey?!

I'll try and put a bit if a tally together from everyone's input.


Last edited by

57 Replies

  • I have to admit I haven't really found a difference for my AF but I haven't had many AF attacked during sleep.

    From what I have heard here sleeping on your right seems a better choice and if you google "which side should i sleep on af" that seems to be the general advice.

  • When I had AF I would only ever get attacks when I was either just falling asleep or on the rare occasion I would wake up with it. I'd never - ever go into AF during day light hours until after the use of that crappy machine CPAP - all went down hill rapidly for me after using CPAP.

    Hmmm, interesting what you have researched on Google about sleeping on the right side, cheers thanks for that Dave.

  • I sleep on my right side and if I ever feel my heart is starting to go a bit haywire I quickly turn onto my back, which generally puts it back into sinus rhythm. Never sleep on my left side as it's triggered AF in the past.

  • Left side also triggered AF for me, so it's back and right side only.

  • Interesting findings so far. My heart prefers right side hands down BUT my esophagus (less reflux) much better on left. I find esophageal irritation a definite trigger so end up splitting the night evenly starting on left while food still digesting. It will be interesting to see others' experiences!

  • Left side always triggers AF, right side sometimes does. On my back I remain clear.

  • Left side. Also just for info. Had 3 AF attacks after turning on left side last year. Good luck with research.....interesting

  • I sleep on both sides, back and front. It doesn't seem to make a difference to me and I'm definitely vagal.

    I used to wake in the night with tachycardia or possibly SVT (pre Alivecor days) but this no longer happens (or should I say it hasn't for a long time).

    The one time I woke having multiple ectopics, I was laying on my right side.


  • I sleep on my right which is best but sometimes on my back but left side is a no no for me as I have woke up dizzy during the left side position

  • If I'm in AF I cannot sleep on my left side as I can feel my heart bouncing around and it does my head in :)

  • Since we all turn a great deal in our sleep, I wonder if the actual side we GO to sleep on remains the only side we sleep on. I always sleep on left side OF THE BED even when alone but does that mean I always sleep on my right? I doubt it. By the way I doubt it makes much difference when you say high or low since the offset is minimal. It is really only the greater mass of the left ventricle which gives any side to the heart. It isn't really on your left at all. OK gravity may make a difference to the stretching of the atria and stretching can result on disrupted pathways.

    Bottom line is that post successful ablation you shouldn't have AF anyway. Secondly sleeping on your back is more likely to result in snoring which itself could cause Sleep apnea. which is known to be connected to onset of AF. Final thought. Horses are know to have AF and they sleep standing up!


  • Just being picky here...horses CAN sleep standing up, but they actually more often lay down to sleep, leaving one of the herd standing on lookout!

  • LOL The things I learn here :)

  • Haha - beauty ;-)

  • How do they know the one on lookout hasn't gone to sleep?

  • LOL!!! They don't!!!!

  • Thanks Bob... always a very informative read from you. I guess the point I am trying to make is that we are not all Cattle, we are all very different on how we deal with AF complications, pre and post AF. There seems to be an overwhelming trend to sleeping in the right side based on ones comfort with quite a few stating that to prevent AF episodes sleeping on the back is good. But you make a good point with the snoring issue and apnoea.

    I note there are a few who prefer to consciously sleep on their left side too, but ya right, when we do a bit of REM sleep, its really amazing how much we do move during sleep.

    One of the reasons I don't trust one of the sleep specialist I was seeing (idiot), he wanted to get me to use some kind of body pillow support to keep in one position whilst sleeping, nothing will stop me moving during sleep - maybe a straight jacket might do it?? :-\

    Anyhow, I would hope that when starting off to sleep on the right side, I'd spend more time on that side than the other... maybe it might be worth videoing my sleep one night, hmmm! <thinking out loud>.

  • Yet I invariably wake up lying on the same side I fell asleep on - maybe having my dog right up against me on one side partly explains this!

    I've gone into AFib while lying on my left, right, back and stomach down the years, but it has barely happened while I was on my right, so, rightly or wrongly, I strongly believe I'm best served lying on my right.

  • I am Almost 6 weeks post second ablation for AF . Which I've had for many years..After a HA in 2004

    My sleep pattern, has not changed since the ablation.. I sleep better in my right side.. Than my left.. Also cannot sleep on my back.

    I still wake every couple of hours .. Uncomfortable and never sure why I wake.. Up so much all night every night is the same..

    I also have an incredibly dry mouth.. Which i do not understand either..

    I've yet to find out if my second ablation worked for me.. As I had a bad experience with the recent one. Where I went into AF afterwards in the cath lab, and ended up having Cardio Version as well.. Still recovering also from a small tear in my heart they managed to do.. And had a drain in for couple of days..

    Sorry.. Gone on.. Hope you find some reverence in my story..

    Thank you..

  • Thank you Roseyuk, everyone's story helps so, so much including yours. I guess even cardiologist aren't infallible, they make mistakes, hey?! Sometimes I wish we lived in a perfect world. Thanks for contributing.

  • hmmm, very interesting reading. I'd never have thought this would have an effect on my PAF, but there you are...and i usually sleep on my left!! I have been woken up many times in AF but to be honest, i'm not sure now which side i was laying on!! I will now try and observe just to see if there's any connection..

    I'm so glad i'm not a horse though......:-)

    Blue x

  • Me too! Standing up and sleeping???! Don't think so.

  • I always sleep on my right side even after ablation. I can sleep on my left but it doesn't feel right now. Before ablation I used to go into AF if on left side.

  • Without my drugs, I can't sleep on my left at all and usually neither on my back. On my right, I'm OK.

    Someone said that a cardio said it doesn't make any difference, it's just that you feel the arrhythmia more sleeping on your left. In my case, I'm certain he is wrong.


  • Bingo... your cardio doesn't live in your body, how would he/she really know? Got to listen to our own bodies first I reckon. But Bob does make a very good point - that even though we start sleeping on a preferred side, we move a hell of a lot during deep sleep that we are not aware of such movements.

  • Post ablation I don't have any issues, WITH my CPAP as it supports my airways wheras prior ablation and without CPAP I was waking most nights with AF runs, some quite serious.

    One of the main reasons for AF returning after a successful ablation is sleep apnea - there is a direct link. I am sorry CPAP didn't work for you, has done miracles for me!

  • Yup... I really wish CPAP would work for me but it just doesn't. So I'd beg to differ the current diagnosis, like do I actually have apnoea or is there something else going on that these specialist have over looked?

  • Sleep apnea is easily diagnosed with a sleep study. I have only slight sleep apnea but it was affecting me but it did not cause my AF. The association has only been made for the return of AF AFTER successful ablation. I also have a hole in the heart and muscle weakness so the CPAP supports my breathing during the night, one day last week as soon as i stopped the machine, I couldn't breath as my diaphragm was so weak. I cannot speak highly enough of the sleep clinic (NHS) here in Devon so I guess we all have very different experiences.

    There is vagus association, which is the what is thought to cause AF when you are asleep. Lying prone brought on an attack for me but then sometimes so did sitting up. At one time I couldn't sleep on my left side at all, but it felt dreadful on my right. I ended up with being propped up to sleep. I also couldn't take any alcohol nor caffeine, since the ablation the thing I enjoy the most is the odd glass of wine and coffee!

    We are all different and whilst some people may have a clear triggers and know their cause, most of us won't. I gave up looking for causes because every time I thought I had worked it out, another episode would surprise me with no association or I did something that used Trigger an episode and be ok?

    Agree totally that we must tune in to our body, luckily I have 2 doctors that ask me and say the 'patient is usually right' and work with me. I always say 'you are the expert on .... But I am the expert on me'. Having had that experience i now don't listen to anyone who doesn't listen to me.

    Stay well - Best wishes CD

  • I'm hearing you loud and clear.

  • I hve had PAF for about 3 years. If I sleep on my left or right I get a fast or irregular rhythm, slightly better now I am on 2.5 bisoprolol, but I try to sleep on my back.

  • I have had two AV node ablashions, after the first one my heart when back to it own rythem and every think was fine , I had the Pacemaker changed to an MRI friendly one so I could be checked for MS , it wasn't MS it is the autonomic nerves that are causing the AF

    My last pacemaker reading was AF 64% of the time . I am now Pacemaker dependent for the reast of my life , I sleep on the right side , it I try on the left side I can feel my heart struggling.

    Eddie .

  • Hi eddisue

    I am 7 weeks post second ablation.

    unfortunately as they took the catheters out one punctured my heart lining,

    So ended up with a drain from my heart.. Which put me back into AF

    Ended up with cardio version. ?.which makes me think that the ablation itself did not catch all the guilty nerve endings.,

    Although the EP Doctor. Never explained this ..

    I have had one short episode of AF this last week.. .

    I still am waiting for a follow up, app, with my EP cardiologist..

    Which I have Been chasing up.. To no avail.. Hoping my GP has more success than me,, I was discharged , with a request to see the EP 6 weeks after the ablation..

    as I have previous HA .. Im told I should have been monitored every 4 weeks after the last messed up Ablation.

    Honestly.. The NHS ..has probably helped me get worse ,. Not better.

    From frustration of lack of communication.

  • Hi its Eddie , after reading the connection with CPAP I have to had , I to am on CPAP and my problems with AF are always in the night , the CPAP makes it unbearable.


  • was told to use right side but often find myself on left when i wake up!

  • I can deliberately bring my A.F. on let's say to show up on an E.C.G.,simply by lying on my left side. I have to sleep on my back in a slightly raised position for other reasons so it would never happen in my sleep. X

  • Back or right side for me, couldn't sleep on my left side as I was aware of everything.

  • Right side is best for me, always unfortable on left side almost as if I am sleeping on bumpy stones and my arm and shoulder goes numb along with odd heartbeats.

  • Hi i generally sleep on my right side as on the other side I am more aware of my AF and it disrupts my sleep.

  • Left side always results in me being able to hear my heart more and pre ablation, it was better to sleep on the right.

  • If I sleep on my left side it starts my A/F going,so sleep mostly on my right side,get A/F mostly at night

  • Definitely right side, have had a few AF episodes kicked off when turning on to my left. Now that I am in persistent AF I can notice the heart rhythm much more on my left side.


  • Always go to sleep on my right but not sure if I stay there - will pay more attention to which side am on when wake & some nights I wake ofton.

  • Sleeping on my left side starts mine, no problems at all on right side. Will be interesting to see the results

  • I used to sleep mostly on my back till i started with AF. Even when I reverted I was feeling breathless on my back, like someone was sitting on my chest, and i couldn't lie on my left side without my heart bouncing about like a trapped fly against a window. Three years later I was just beginning to lie on my back and left side again and it started again. I don't put it down to which side I sleep on as I know it's stress on my body that triggers me so alcohol, not enough sleep, irregular meals, illness and tension are the major culprits but I'm very careful to limit the amount of time I spend laid on my left just in case it decides it's going to stay for a while again.

  • Hi,

    I can only sleep on my right side. Whenever I feel that my chest is being 'crushed' the AF starts. The other night I woke up from sleeping on my right side but left arm was across my chest and I'm sure this was the reason why I awoke with AF.

    Best wishes,


  • Right side definitely best for me - heart is more fluttery on left - ok for short time then need to go on back or right side.

    Good luck with the research

  • Not sure about others, but I am fairly sure that it's not just that I can't sleep on my left, it's that I can't start by sleeping on my left, that would be a more correct statement. I have done some "trials" and it seems that I get used to lying down eventually. i.e. after a while of being horizontal the arrhythmia gives way or lessens so it's not an issue. So it possibly won't matter about my position after the first half hour or whatever.

    I think it's been said before, it's not so much the position, it's the change in position.


  • Yup... hearing you and agree, statement would have been better by asking... what side do we prefer to start sleeping on but hey?! I think everyone is getting it. Still, there is a very strong trend for most to start sleeping on the right side as the left seems to be rather uncomfortable for everyone. Have to say though when I did have AFand woke up in AF I'd always note I woke up on my left side, never on my right.

  • Definitely feel flutters more when on the left so avoid if possible but difficult as I have always slept on my left side.

  • I'm exactly the same as Lovedmum.

  • On my right side. If am in AF I can feel my heart if am on my left side and on my back too.

  • Ok folks, just got back from a lengthy visit to the sleep specialist.

    Apparently according to the sleep study results I don't show hardly any symptoms sleeping on my right side but when I am on my back I am moderate to severe sleep apnoea - I remember when I was in AF for periods of 4 - 5 hours and sometimes even 7 hour stints, the most comfortable position when in AF for me was to on my back... go figure and sometimes I would fall asleep in AF and wake up in normal sinus rhythm from sleeping on my back. Starting to wonder where these people do their homework.

    I do not recall sleeping on my back during the sleep study at all, I went to sleep on my right side and woke up on my right side and thought I had a brilliant night sleep.

    Anyhow, I have now been given a trial 'night shift' device that is meant to buzz when unconsciously moving onto my back during sleep - hope its not too annoying and keeps me awake, that would defeat its purpose.

    I was also told that the snore-ban I bought is crap because its not adjustable and its very uncomfortable, yet the one I have been using is very, very comfortable and fits a treat and I can sleep through the night with it - I cannot do the same with CPAP.

    My confidence in the suggested treatments and diagnosis of the couple of sleep specialists I have been forced to see if I want to keep my drivers licence hasn't improved one bit.

    Now I am expected to go and have a 4th sleep study done with this night shift gadget on.

    Why could this not be done from the start? Is costing me an arm and a leg now and the stress levels are not good either.

    If I get through all this crap and not have a relapse of AF, it will be a miracle.

    In the meantime I am sticking with the two treatments I have chosen, the use of the Didge and the snore-ban and I will be using both at the next sleep study, the Didge will be used before I fall off to sleep just to help open the airways and I don't care if it annoys anyone at the test.

    Next sleep study will be in 10 days time, will keep you posted on how that goes.

  • This is a very interesting thesis. I have had three ablation procedures and I am now pretty well free of AF attacks, although I do have frequent periods of ectopic, or missing heartbeats. I have always experienced discomfort sometimes, I believe, promoting an AF attack, when sleeping on my back. Even now, I feel there is pressure from a heavy weight on my chest,when lying on my back in bed, which could start an AF attack. I normally start on my left side and then move onto my right side. I am sure that, in sleep, I switch from side to side throughout the night.

  • Yup... that's what the 'night shift' gadget is meant to do, record what position I sleep in and buzz when I am my back, did I mention its like a dog collar? Unbelievable - just need a leash now :-\.

    See how I go with it for the next 10 days trial period.

    Just another device they want to charge like a roaring bull... $350.00 plus they say.

    Its time to look for the night shift gadget on the Net and get it cheaper somehow - if it does what its meant to.

    I'm not holding my breath because everything else they have suggested has failed miserably.

    Shame I can't get my money back for their failures like how other industries work.

  • You must be in the US. We are lucky here in the UK. Our National Health Service provides these tests and treatments for free and because I am over 65, the medication is free as well.

  • Nup... in the great land down under living with more regulations than communist China - and yes I've been to China too. And asylum seekers want to risk their lives in a leaky boat? I think they need to understand the concept of... its always greener on the other side of the hill till they get here.

    Medical use to the best in the world here... not anymore. It seems Pommy land is fast becoming the lucky country these days ☺

  • Actually it is free for over 60s

You may also like...