Should atrial fibbers sleep sitting up

Hi all,

One writer on this forum mentioned that we should sleep sitting up.

I have wondered about this for some time. It has never been suggested that I should by GP's or Cardiologists but then they say little other than 'keep taking the tablets'.

I have never been able to sleep sitting up, but now that I am in persistent AF should I be trying?

Any words of wisdom please.


16 Replies

  • Hi Jean,

    That's a new one on me! A lot of people struggle to sleep on their side (particularly the left side) as it seems to trigger AF. The most important thing is that you get as much good sleep as you can, in whichever position you find most comfortable.

    I used to have trouble sleeping on my side, but I'm now fine on my right and can spend longer on my left than I used to but wouldn't aim to sleep the whole night that way round.


  • Oh my gosh, so being on left side affects others too. I have noticed most of my episodes start when I go to bed and roll onto my left side. My cardiologist didn't act like that had anything to do with it, but I had a suspicion it did. Thank you for mentioning that. This site is AWESOME!!

  • Yes jean, since getting AF I have found it much better to sleep with 3 pillows - not exactly sitting up but half way there.

  • Since I came back from my first stay in hospital I found it was more comfortable propped up a little more.

    Thought it was just a personal foible I picked up from adjusting the hospsital bed - so glad there is at leas one other.

    I did look at a wedge shape chunk of foam but the price put me off and I too got one of those V shaped pillows from Argos. I got paranoid about sleeping on the left side . Part of my trouble is Ive never been one to drop off to sleep straight away so I do shuffle around and muse on things for a bit.

  • Whatever blows your frock up. If it suits you then fine but it is just another aspect of letting AF rule your life. DON'T LET IT.

  • Bob, you crack me up!

  • I sleep flat on my front. I don't wear a frock in bed.

  • Thanks Bob. I always look forward to your comments. Please don't go anywhere.

    Love Jean

  • you crack me up too, :-) Bob

  • i would hang upside down like a bat if i thought it would help, raised pillows should be enough as i would have thought sitting up sleeping would put a strain on your neck

  • I believe if there is any strain on your heart you should be propped up a little. If someone is having a heart attack you are supposed to keep them sitting leaning against something. I noticed that if you are in hospital with AF you are put in bed with the head raised. So it makes sense if you are in AF to lie propped up, I get very breathless if I lie on my side, especially left, when in AF.

  • I find sleeping at 45 degrees works for me. I use 5 pillows to make this work but it does mean my back, neck and head are fully supported. I couldn't lay flat and if I lay on my left side for any length of time I am more likely to go into AF.

  • My mother's cardiologist always asks how many pillows she is using as the first question - it can be a sympton, not just a possible help. I use more pillows when my heart is going very fast but mostly am fine with just one. Try it when you have symptons if it makes you more comfortable. Lucy

  • The main reason that people with paroxysmal AF sleep propped up, and a V pillow works very well, is to prevent AF starting. If you are in persistent AF then there is no point unless you have some other reason.


  • I always sleep partly on my left side and stomach whether in AF or not. My Af has never started whilst I have been lying down. Guess we are all different , but wonder what Bob looks like with his frock blown up?

  • I can sleep on either side. One caution re sleeping sitting up, if you has fluid build up, congestive heart failure etc, resting your body in a lying position helps your body get rid of excess fluid during the night. (With fluid in the feet/legs especially)

    Also continuous pressure on your bottom can leave you more at risk for pressure ulcers on your skin( can you tell Im a home health nurse, lol)

    Ive seen my share of patients with "bed sores" from sleeping in their recliners in an upright position.

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