Sleep problems

Since getting afib and trying do deal with lots of worry, anxiety and the dreadful medications I took before having my ablation 2 months ago, I am having difficult time sleeping. I'm sure I have depression with all the emotional upheaval from the afib which may be contributing to the waking up in middle of every night. The antidepressants all can cause heart issues so they are out of question.......what do you all use to get a full night sleep ???? I have been taking klonipin, not crazy bout it only gives me 6 hour sleep at best and not great drug to be on long term nor is any. Adivan gives me less sleep and a rebound anxiety next morning. I get to sleep no problem but wake up 3 hours later and can't get back to sleep.......start having afib thoughts and anxiety if I lie there too long without taking something! Anybody out there having trouble sleeping too?

16 Replies

  • Hiya Eliza,

    Good morning, its 01.25 - are you awake ! Yes, I have similar sleep issues. I was diagnosed with paroxysmal AF in Jan 2010 but I'd always identified my sleep issues with having spent over 20 years driving buses on shift work. If not that then at other times working anti social hours.

    I must confess though I do have my AF controlled through medication and diet so at night it doesn't disturb me. Consequently I do not lie there in bed thinking about it. I usually drop off to sleep within 5 or 7 minutes, no problem. Staying asleep - Hmmmm !

    That's me awake now. I did lights out at 21.45 and here I am at 01.25 writing this, wide awake, ready to redesign Concorde and test fly it myself. I just don't fight sleep. I usually just get up, make a cup of tea, catch up on emails, read or whatever - I DO NOT watch TV though. Sometimes I wake up, again don't fight it, just read and get drowsy and fall asleep again. I'm fortunate in that although retired I only work 3 days a week so falling asleep for the second time and sleeping another 4 hours isn't a problem. I think the worse thing you can do is to fight the sleep problem - just go with the flow. Maybe try meditation /mindfulness as a therapy. Maybe get to a Sleep Clinic and have the issues analysed. Something else you could try is to eliminate all modern electronic/digital gadgets from the bedroom. i.e. - T.V.'s, digital alarm clocks, radios, tablets, smartphones, even cordless phones - anything that is electronically intrusive in your space, some people experience electro sensitivity problems from these modern day technological wonders.

    My medication is simple, a statin and a high blood pressure tablet and Bisoprolol and Warfarin for AF. Co-Codomol 30/500 for pain relief ( I suffer from Osteoarthritis of right knee). I'd never thought to blame AF or medication for the sleep issues. In my case I do blame a past lifestyle. I certainly never take more medication to cure the sleep (or lack of) unless its for pain relief. My sleep problems lessen when I am working or when I'm active ( but in the last few years my activity levels have got less and less due to OA). I think also it is unhelpful to automatically link sleep problems with AF. My neighbour has exactly the same sleep issues (he is 62, I am 71 by the way), he has no known health issues, he is very active ( he works as a groundsman at a nearby holiday park) yet he's the same.

    I know this hasn't given you a solution but hopefully a bit of comfort and a different take on sleep.

    Good luck.

  • This is great advice. However, I would speak more strongly to meditation and mindfulness as the key. I firmly believe that most of our stress and all of our anxiety is between our ears. And that's the place where we need to work to deal with it. Using drugs only masks the real problem, which is our lack of awareness, tools and skills.

    If you have trouble going to sleep, breathe normally and pay close attention to it. When your attention wanders, return to the breath. You might also find body scanning useful. I've done it, and I don't think I've ever finished a scan without dozing off. There are all sorts of resources available.

  • I wake up every few hours as I go in and out sometimes, but doesn't sounds a bad as yours. Best wishes.

  • I have had similar sleep issues, solutions are probably individual but........I would give it time for the AF anxiety to wear off once stabilised, I took up new interests including breathing exercises (one Qigong exercise), more prayer, mindfulness all in one hour in the evening, writing down and focussing on 4 'Best things for me today' and recently eating very lightly and around 6pm in the evening. All probably sounds a bit woolly and a light touch but it is gradually working. Good Luck.

  • I never had any sleeping troubles until I ended up in hospital with af . I had never been in hospital before and thought the light shining on my face all night was supposed to be there. I was also in normal sinus rhythm but my heart rate was low because of the sotalol and every time I went to sleep an alarm would go off because my pulse was too slow. Second night I was in AF and every time I moved my heart rate would set off the too fast one ever responded to the alarm and apparently it didn't need to ring in my room. The next four nights were in the cardio ward. There has to be a correlation between heart problems and snoring. By day five with no sleep I was starting to become unhinged. They insisted on giving me a sleeping pill on the sixth night and I got one hour sleep. The next morning they sent me home as they reckoned I wasn't doing well in the hospital environment. I had real trouble sleeping for weeks afterwards and gave in and took sleeping pills for a few days. Once I had a few good nights sleep I improved. I find now a nice warm bath and I'm out like a light. Unfortunately the beta-blockers I'm on give me very vivid dreams including nightmares and I tend to wake-up between one and three every morning. My technique to get back to sleep is to daydream about something I like and this works most of the time. I still unfortunately sleep very poorly in hospital but I take music and earphones and find this helps or at least makes a time pass.

    You could try rainy mood music, I found this really good.

  • I had similar problems trying to get a decent night sleep for months. Tried all kind of natural remedies to no avail until I came across an article about magnesium supplements. I have now been taking magnesium for about 10 days and I am finally sleeping all night for a good 7 hours or so. The magnesium I take is in a liquid form for higher absorption and is available from Amazon. Not cheap but worth it for me.

  • Look into biphasic sleeping. That's helped me a little bit, when I wake up, which I do every night, I go to the loo, read a book for a bit or have a potter around outside, the go back to bed. Works for me. I still get my 8 hours but in two bouts

  • I never try to go to sleep, it has to come and get me. So if I'm awake then I'll do something, like Japaholic, potter about, play solitaire on my iPad (which I find particularly soporific). If necessary I'll stay up a long time to wear myself out.

    But the elephant in the room is to try and get rid of the causes of the worry and anxiety, is that possible? Easy to say I know but hope you get there.

    Have you tried Mindfulness?


  • If I can't sleep I try to mentally recite a medium long poem or song ( the same one every time ). I only get half way through before dropping off but if I come back to consciousness I start at the beginning again. Never fails. X

  • I take Cetirizine as part of my asthma treatment. When I cut it down to a half dose to try to decrease lethargy in the day I woke in the night and couldn't go back to sleep. It is available over the counter but you would have to check if it is compatible with your other meds of course.

    I don't know your age but hormone changes affect your sleep patterns so you might explore that or decide to go with the flow and try the biphasic sleep pattern if possible.

  • Yes absolutely know where you are coming from, I fall asleep soon after settling down then wham 1.30 or round about I am awake. This has been going on since the onset of AF, I think I am probably subconsciously expecting an episode. I had an ablation 7 weeks ago but am still waking up. I am sure this progresses into a habit which is difficult to break. I deal with it by listening to talking books with one earphone in so that I can get comfortable and find that usually I drop off to sleep before the first few paragraphs have finished. I have invested in rechargeable batteries as I get through quite a lot, lol. Now I am retired I don't get so stressed about it as I don't have to get up for work so can stay in bed if feeling particularly shattered. You can get these books from the library, I have now exhausted the supply from my local library so am going to other libraries in the area. May be worth a try for you.


  • Ativan and "cousin" tranquilizers help you get to sleep, but are short-acting and interfere with longer term sleep. Clonazapam (klonopin) is longer-acting and may give you 6 hrs. sleep. Not a great choice, BUT sometimes you have to prioritize problems and tackle them as a process while you come up with a better solution. Lots of tips mentioned on this site. I mental health prescriber could consult with your cardiac provider about an anti-depressant which might also reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Not all are contraindicated for AF.

  • You are correct....not all contraindicated. Saw doc today who validated for me that I have been suffering with anxiety my whole life and it was time to start treating it. I am feeling positive about this and will take the medication which is an antidepressant and will help the sleep too. I have always been against medications but I have been ignoring my anxiety for way too long now. Glad I am finally doing something about it.

  • Good luck in your journey. May take a while to work out med dose, but don't get discouraged. Keeping even a small log or journal will help as you try out anxiety treatment options. Wishing you happy and healthy 2016.

  • After I have had an AF episode it takes me some weeks to have the confidence of going to sleep as my episodes always occur at night. I find that listening to music on earphone(s) does the trick for me Oddly enough it is not the music that sends me to sleep but the thought that my mind says 'I wish that music would stop so I can go to sleep' and sure enough I do when it does!!

  • Welcome to aging (I'm guessing). I've been waking at 3 am to use the bathroom and take my thyroid pill for years now, and when the old thinker won't quit (or settles on disturbing topics of children issues), I have a standing book or scriptures nearby to redirect until the drowsies hit. But the best cure for me is a cool room. Like hibernating, I suppose. Hope you find a better solution than resorting to sleeping pills, though, since they come with their own set of drawbacks. I've heard Melatonin helps some.

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