Can AF impact on sleep: Since I was first... - AF Association

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Can AF impact on sleep


Since I was first toldI have permanent AF the at end of last year I have found it difficult to get to sleep and when I do at best it only lasts a couple of hours. At first I put this down to anxiety especially when a cardioversion failed. But I only rarely suffer from anxiety know yet my sleep deprivation has got worse I average two or three hours a night. I have now made an appointment with GP to talk about sleeping tabs. Any thoughts about this would be great fully received.

18 Replies

I think most people with AF find sleeping a problem until, they get used to it. It is not that AF prevents sleep but they become worried by the feeling and are unable to relax. Those with permanent AF for example who frequently are not even aware of it are not so affected so the simple answer to your question is NO.

On the other hand sleep apnoea is a know cause of AF.

One must also remember the P problem since AF makes us wee far more thanks to the enzyme the stressed heart releases and this often results in disturbed nights.

Mickhall in reply to BobD

Ah the p problem I didn’t know about that Bob I just thought it was due to me getting older.

BobDVolunteer in reply to Mickhall

oh yes some people are really badly affected and can't go more than ten minutes for a toilet! Odd that this hasn't been mentioned here for a while as it used to be an almost daily subject. I suppose that since most of us know about it nobody thinks anything of it.

Yes in a nutshell. It has disturbed my sleep numerous times, and lack of sleep disturbs my AF. It's a circle!

I think it's also to do with the meds as much as the AF itself. I feel unable to sleep on my left for a few weeks after ablation/cardioversion because everything seems much more intense, or maybe I'm just hyper alert to it.

I’d imagine that sleeping on the left puts more pressure on the heart. I definitely feel less comfortable laying on my left side since my ablation.


Not only can AFib impact sleep, but poor sleep is high on the list of things that are thought to be part of the cause of AFib. There is a huge relationship between poor sleep and heart disease of every type. So the best suggestions I have are those without side effects: meditation, mindfulness, listening to white noise or binaural beats, exercise earlier in the day, and avoiding caffeine during the day. Learning meditative breathing and relaxation techniques can be life changing and make all the difference for good sleep.

BJShaf in reply to SRMGrandma

Consider doing a sleep study test. I was found to have sleep apnea and now on a CPAP machine. Takes some getting use to, but what a difference. Also convinced the sleep apnea I was found to have caused the AF. New research is showing all kinds of heart conditions being caused by sleep Apnea. Check it out!

SRMGrandmaVolunteer in reply to BJShaf

Yes, everyone should have a sleep study done if diagnosed with AFib!

In my case the answer is yes and I have permanent AF. Been diagnosed for nearly 5 years and sleeping problems started soon after, I was not worrying about anything, I was quite relaxed just could not sleep. I found it difficult to get off to sleep and would then get only an hour or two and awake again, just lying there not able to sleep. If I have a bad night then I have a bad day. Told my GP and we have looked into why, had various tests, tried all the usual approaches, herbal, mindfulness ect to sleeplessness and nothing has worked. So I now take a sleeping tablet. I do know of a few other people with AF that have the same problem. I have always since AF had to get up 2 or 3 times during the night to go to the loo and still do even taking a sleeping tablet, but at least I go back to bed and fall asleep quickly. I know it is not ideal to take sleeping tablets but I cannot function without a reasonable nights sleep. Hope you get yours sorted.


Mickhall in reply to cassie46

Cassie my sleep problems are almost identical to your own any way saw GP late afternoon yesterday he was fine he pointed out a degree of anxiety is to be expected until meds settle so what do you want me to treat that or your sleep problem I said the latter and he gave me a script for a mild sleeping tablet and I could have kissed the young lad, as last nightI has the best sleep since I was first diagnosed with PAF. Sorry about spelling but I am just waking up from a good nights sleep ;-)

As for "sleep tabs", for me, 5htp & Melatonin & L-Theanine seem to help.

I have found Spo2 readings from oximeter overnight is a great indicator of sleep quality.

Breathing exercise seems to help my sleeping a great deal also: check out simple devices like ULTRABREATH on Amazon (found out this kind of device from this forum), I bought one ~2 weeks ago myself, it is basically weight-lifting for your diaphragm.

How do you use the pulse oximeter to determine sleep quality?

I use SPO2 assistant with my cms 50F; the oximetry report shows a decent proxy for AHI, the "adjusted Index(1/hr)"; subjectively "good sleep quality" for me is fairly flat spo2 level coupled above 94) with feeling refreshed (no yawning in the morning)

Have you tried eating/drinking during an 8 hour period only - have your main meal at lunch time and no nibbles in the evening so that your digestive system has closed down for the evening?

Hi Mick, you have had some great replies already.

I am all over this problem at present as the last lifestyle improvement to crack before coming off the pills. Since diagnosis and going on 200mgs/day Flecainide, my sleep has been poor, always waking 1,2,3 times a night and not really sure whether its AF, anxiety or my enlarged prostate (had it for 10+ years).

So I have been on a rather surprising voyage of discovery and I will mention it briefly in case a bit helps you. Firstly no sleeping on the left side, then head of bed propped up a little, eating light and early, no late night screen viewing, just before bed I do a mix of Mindfulness, yoga/Qigong exercise and prayer. I have a stuffed up nose (could be Upper airway resistance syndrome) and so I need to maximise air intake at night with a window open and a nasal strip. Even though you don't feel too frazzled anxiety could still be the issue,two respected cardiologists have suggested counselling to me - I have done 6 sessions and stopped as I felt it helped but didn't know whether I would get value for money going on, I may restart to test this. Lastly, I grind my teeth which evidently is one trick the body uses to wake you up when it is not getting enough oxygen, so my dentist has just made a plastic tooth guard to wear at night. I wore it for the first time last night, its early days but I did get a good nights sleep. Hope something above helps you.

Some AFib medications list insomnia as a side effect (eg Sotalol) so it is possible that that is the cause.

Hi Mickhall,

Lots of great advice already but I thought I would add my bit in case it helps, I will bullet point to cut the experience down ( I have previously posted the longer version about AF and Sleep Apnea ) I have PAF and am on Sotalol 80mg x 2 a day

When my wife had a severe stroke ( 56 ) three years ago I totally gave up drinking ( average drinker, but enough probably to help me sleep? ) so I could look after her.

Two years ago I went to the doctors as I couldn't sleep, he suggested sleeping tabs I declined, so continued suffering until recently when I started taking my blood pressure when I woke up the 4/5 a night thinking I needed a pee but couldn't really go ( prostate checked and ok ) and it was always high, went to the doctors and she suggested I increased my dosage of Sotalol. I put a post on this site and asked for help, someone suggested I might have sleep apnea, never really heard of it but duly went to the doctors, did the test and found out I had severe apnea with 68 episodes an hour ( 30 is the severe level ) . I was put on a CPAP machine and 7 weeks later I am experiencing a good nights sleep only getting up once at the most during 7 hours and my events now vary between 2.5 and 5, the safe level. BobD mentioned the sleep apnea in his reply to you and if you haven't checked it well worth getting it done, 7 simple questions initially with you GP. I am 5'7" and 77kg and reasonably fit, apparently not the usual suspect for SA. Good luck

Hi, Yes it can affect sleep most certainly. I was diagnosed with permanent AF back in April last year. It was being awake all night unable to breathe that took me to the GP. I thought I also suffered from Sleep Apnoea but since my successful cardioversion in May this year my sleep pattern is back to normal.. Just as well because although referred to a Sleep Clinic the referral still hasn't come through - they said it would take a long time but I do think my referral letter may have got lost now!

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