Waking up with rapid heart rate

I had a nightmare two nights ago it was about 2 hours after I had fallen asleep. As I woke my heart rate was about twice what is currently for me normal. It took something like 10 - 15 minutes for my heart to calm down and even then it was faster than usual. I used slow deep breathing and lay as calmly as I could on my back.

One of the reasons this worried me was that whilst I have now been back in NSR for 10 days following my recent ablation, it was waking up, either in the morning or during the night, that often triggered my AF in the past. I did a study on the regularity of waking being my trigger and over 2 years 56% of my episodes started this way, the others were random with no real major links.

This did worry me but it is not the first time this has happened I am hoping that I can have sweet dreams in future not bad dreams.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?


27 Replies

  • I don't feel this sounds too bad, Pete. If your brain's busy with a dream, it will surely raise your heartbeat if it's disturbing enough. As AF didn't develop, it's surely a good sign.

    Perhaps watch what and when you eat in the evenings!

  • I am sure you are right.

    I think I have just become hypersensitive and after all these years of AF I am weary of it all and unusually this time I have built my hopes up so high that it has been successful that every minor hiccough sends alarm bells through me.

    Most of the time I am positive but I just have my moments.

    Thanks for your encouraging words.


  • And don't eat late.

  • I did eat late that night which is unusual for me maybe that was the problem. Never thought of that before.


  • Yes I find that is I say eat at 20:30 or 21:00 and then go to bed within a couple of hours that happens to me. I try and have 4 (or at least 3) hours gap even if it means staying up later.

  • That sounds pretty normal to me too Pete as the nightmare will have raised your adrenaline levels as you try to get out of it. I had one a couple of months ago and awoke with my heart battering to get out of my chest, choking and scary and it also took about 15-20 minutes to settle.

    The good news is that it didn't trigger any AF. I agree with Rellim regarding evening eating habits.

  • Yes as it didn't trigger AF it must be a good sign I agree. Me and adrenaline have never got on too well. Big note on my Dentist's file "NO ADRENALINE"

    Bob said to me recently that the Ectopics I keep getting are also a good sign.

    I am trying to take all the positives.

    As always thanks for your support.


  • Absolutely Pete. Often wake up from nightmares with the old metronome going flat out. That you didn't go into AF is a good sign for sure. Try to relax, we AFers forget these things used to happen BAF (before AF)

  • Thanks Bob

    I do like your abbreviation!! BAF.

    As a relative newbie to the forum but an old hand at coping with AF I was thinking we should provide a glossary of the most common abbreviations used on this forum for any new members but of course it would get lost in amongst all the other posts.


  • I think we did one about two years ago but as you say it got lost.

  • Maybe it is something that the AFA could put in the general section is that "pinned posts"

  • Bob

    I was looking at the main AFA website this morning and there is a glossary on there. It is not fully comprehensive but worth remembering.


  • night time AF is usually vagal - when the systems change, but you are so recently recovering from ablation it may not be significant- I expect you know who to contact if concerned, Hope it doesn't continue,

    best wishes,


  • To all those who report the nighttime increased heartrate, Did it suddenly stop, or did it slow down over a few minutes? And did anyone find they had to treat it because it did not spontaneously stop in less than 30 minutes?

  • It took about 10-15 minutes to calm down.

    Read the posts above they are very reassuring.


  • Prior to my af diagnosis and subsequent ablation, there were occasions when I had af at night for up to three hours. {2 o'clock in the morning before getting to sleep at times....} Fortunately, this did not happen all the time, but when it did I had to get up and wander around until my heart calmed down. As a result, my evening meals got smaller and smaller.. and they weren't that large in the first place! For shorter af runs, I found that lying on my stomach for a while sometimes helped. Currently, post ablation, I have only had one very short night-time incident during a particularly hot and sticky night. Sympathy to those who still suffer...... it really is a horrible time to experience palps.. af or otherwise..... :{

  • Thanks Lizty I agree

  • 10-15 minutes is fine. But there is adrenaline and adrenaline. I currently expect to get to near resting rate in around 5 minutes after a fast walk rate of 120. The adrenaline presumably is at work in physical workouts. But adrenaline + scared is a different matter. During the daytime, I have noticed that when I suddenly get scared, irregularities build up and I start noticing my heart, then it may shoot up, and often does not come down for over 30 minutes, and when it does, it finishes slowly ie it is NOT classical Tachycardia.

    In pre-AF days, my cardiologist gave me a rule of thumb. I had to see him if I ever had any kind of tachycardia, three times in a week. When I did see him he prescribed Flecainide, to be stopped whenever I was on holiday etc.

    Because my AF started due to a tachycardia that got out of hand, I am very interested in this. The key question is: will this tachycardia stop spontaneously, or should I take action? How long do I wait before I decide, knowing that with tachycardia, the sooner you act the more effective the remedy.

    Just thinking aloud.

  • Yes, I've had this a few times a while back now. I can't point to a specific cure as I have made so many changes but as Rosy says your Vagus Nerve probably is relevant.

    In the evenings I never eat within 2 hours of bed and eat lighter, no alcohol or fizzy drinks, take magnesium and regularly practice Mindfulness/positive thought training (don't worry, nothing technical I just focus on the 4 best things of the day). Interestingly, I have found recently the Magnesium Spray I use is best applied 30 mins before bed for a good nights sleep.

    Keep battling on, it's worth it.

  • I don't drink alcohol so that is good. Also I will try to eat earlier.

    Sadly I am now back in AF hoping it is just a blip in my recovery.


  • After my ablation 16 months ago I was acutely aware of my heart and occasionally woke up with a raised rate which I assumed was due to a dream. I took it as a good sign because it never led to AF which it would have done previously. I was also very aware of ectopic beats. As I am no longer aware of my heart I don't know if this is still happening. Just so pleased to be normal again.


  • Yes Pete this has happened to me since my last ablation 6 weeks ago. Has happened quite often but settles after a while. I am still in and out of AF every day and still get short runs of tachycardia and lots of ectopics but hanging on in there for the 3 months hoping this might improve. Looks good for you if you are still in NSR. Try not to get anxious about it as this obviously doesn't help. The GP gave me a prescription for diazepam 2mg which I take if feeling particularly anxious but try not to take if I can help it. Hope all stays well.


  • Sadly I returned to AF first thing this morning and still cannot get it to return to NSR.

    I am hoping that it will be OK later.

    Interesting to read of others who have experienced the same symptoms.

    If I am still in AF tomorrow morning I shall call my EP's secretary to ask for guidance.


  • Oh what a bummer Pete. Hope you return to sinus without intervention. Good idea to speak to EP's secretary. Do you not have access to an arythmia nurse?

  • Thank you for your comments. Access to arrhythmia nurse is available but they are regularly on answer machine.

    Good news is that I am now back in NSR.


  • Brilliant.

  • I had some diazepam in the house until quite recently to help with a bad spasm in my sacroiliac joint but I have run out and they don't like to just prescribe just for us to have as a bit of extra help. I agree I think it helps if taken very much in moderation.

    Maybe my back is getting bad again.


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