Palpitations when falling asleep – causes & therapy

Sleep problems can exist in a variety of ways . It becomes critical if you notice a racing heart when falling asleep and do not know exactly what the cause could be.

Heart diseases should always be taken seriously. Therefore, in case of doubt , the recommendation is to go to the doctor more often than suddenly to be in the hospital with a serious diagnosis.

Do you want to know what is due to the rapid heart rate during sleep and what measures you can take concrete, the following guide you with the necessary information.

The heart beats with a certain frequency per minute, depending on the strain. If you are relaxed and lying on the couch, for example, the pulse will be lower than if you are currently doing sports. A higher heart rate is perfectly normal with greater exertion. After all, the body must be supplied with sufficient oxygen and an increased pulse rate ensures the supply.

On the other hand, it becomes problematic if you have to struggle with a higher heartbeat at night even in an actually quiet phase . From a pulse of 150 beats per minute, it is clearly stated that a pathological palpitations , including tachycardia [1] called, is present.

Often this phenomenon occurs before falling asleep. If it is only brief and subsides on its own, the racing heart is most likely harmless.

A distinction is made between the individual types depending on where they originated. If the disorder occurs in the atria , it is referred to as a supraventricular tachycardia. This type is the most common.

Increased heartbeat

If your heart rate is increased before bed is a one-off thing, serious illness is unlikely. However, if the heartbeat is regularly increased, this is pathological and must be examined urgently.

If the ventricle is responsible for the racing heart, ventricular tachycardia is present. Although this is much less common, it always represents a medical emergency .

The racing heart before going to sleep [2]perceive a multitude of people. It is problematic if this phenomenon occurs more frequently and does not subside again after a short time.


The body is a very complex construct with innumerable influencing factors that affect the heart. Therefore, the causes of the racing heart [3] Before going to sleep, they can also be classified in a variety of ways and very differently.


One risk factor is excessive alcohol consumption . If you come home after a long night of partying and want to sleep, the alcohol will not only lead to distorted perception and nausea, but will also affect the heartbeat [4]. An atrial fibrillation can be triggered.


The racing heart when falling asleep can also occur as a result of pregnancy . The lying position causes compression of the vessels in the abdominal cavity and in the pelvic area. The blood flow is disturbed and less blood flows back to the heart. In order to keep the blood pressure stable, the heart now has to work harder. The pulse increases and in extreme cases even the racing heart occurs [5] on.

Sleep quality during pregnancy

Sleep often suffers during pregnancy. But especially during this time it is important to avoid stress and to sleep well. Therefore, it is advisable to use a pregnancy pillow and to follow strict sleep hygiene.


As a woman, not only pregnancy is a risk factor that contributes to a racing heart. The menopause may be responsible for the palpitations. Usually, however, the palpitations are more likely to be detected during the day.


The thyroid gland can also be given as the reason for the racing heart when falling asleep. The thyroid is directly involved in stimulating the heart rate by producing hormones. If there is an overactive thyroid , there is an overproduction of hormones that accelerate the heartbeat.


The temporary palpitations when the patient is lying down is also harmless. The redistribution of the blood makes the heart beat faster for a short time. However, this effect should only last for a very short time.

The biggest influencing factor for the racing heart, however, is stress , which is dealt with in detail in the following chapter.


Nowadays, stress has become a constant companion in everyday life. High performance is required both at work and at school. In addition, there are other problems that burden the soul and also promote stress.

The stress leads to a higher release of adrenaline. The adrenaline accelerates the heartbeat [6]and perceived this as a racing heart. Even if the stress was greatest during the day, it can still be responsible for the racing heart during the night, as the adrenaline has a delayed effect.

In the evening there is also a reflection of the day’s events. If events occurred that were perceived as particularly stressful, these now come back into consciousness and can express themselves as a racing heart.

Stress and your sleep behavior

Stress doesn’t just affect the heart. It is also considered to be a major cause of insomnia. It is therefore important to take enough time off and to observe relaxation phases.

Stress and the release of adrenaline are basically not negative mechanisms in the body. It helps us to survive in precarious situations and a higher performance [7]to guarantee. On the other hand, it becomes problematic if the stress persists and there are no more relaxation phases.

The permanent release of adrenaline can lead to a racing heart, which is particularly pronounced before going to bed.

The following symptoms are further signs that the stress level is far too high and that you should rethink your lifestyle :

Dedicated Pupils
Breathing faster
High blood pressure
goose flesh
Increased body temperature


Extreme caution should be exercised when heart problems arise. However, you don’t have to go to the doctor directly for every accelerated pulse.

If the palpitations occur only occasionally before falling asleep and a clear connection is recognizable, you should rather try to eliminate the cause. So if you have recently become much more stressed by work and fall asleep more often with your heart racing, you should try to reduce the stress.

Even after a single night, if you drink too much alcohol and your heart is beating faster, you don’t have to see a doctor. This will be a relatively normal effect of alcohol consumption .

Urgent to the doctor

If the palpitations occur regularly, your doctor must examine this. There could be serious illnesses that are life threatening.

But there are also clear signs that a doctor’s visit is highly recommended.

This is the case if there are other symptoms related to the racing heart. If you feel a pressure or even a pain in the chest, a visit to the doctor is inevitable.

If the pain radiates to other parts of the body, for example the arm, a heart attack is suspected [8]vicinity. If you suffer from shortness of breath and chest pain , you should call the emergency doctor immediately.


Depending on which causes are responsible for the racing heart, the therapy depends on it. If the heart rate is abnormal and physical causes are responsible, drugs are given to treat the tachycardia. These lower the heart rate.

For example:

Beta blockers
Sodium channel blocker

If there are organic causes and the heart is no longer working optimally, sometimes only an operation can help. Sometimes a pacemaker will be necessary to stabilize the heart rate.

Holistic therapy

In order to strengthen the health of your heart, a holistic view is advisable. More consideration must be given to health on both a physical and psychological level.

If the racing heart is due to psychological problems , sedatives can be administered. With this the stress is released and the negative thoughts are felt less intensely.

psychotherapy may be advisable if serious mental stresses are present. Simple relaxation techniques no longer help here; professional help must be sought.


The good news is that most of the time, when you fall asleep, your heart racing isn’t due to organic problems or a heart attack. Usually, stress will be responsible for the accelerated heartbeat.

Therefore, to calm the accelerated heart rate, focus on reducing stress and adopting a healthier lifestyle [9]respectively. This starts with a balanced diet rich in vitamins and should go hand in hand with an overall healthier work-life balance .

Concrete measures to reduce stress can be relaxation techniques and meditation . With the help of meditation you can get rid of negative thoughts and before going to bed they no longer appear so intensely.

In addition, by taking valerian , a home remedy for falling asleep , you can calm the nerves and reduce the racing heart. However, the use of valerian is not a long-term solution, but rather should be understood in the short term in order to ensure a high quality of sleep.

Sport is also always a good way to deal with the emotional stress and to create a balance to everyday work. A lack of exercise can be seen as a cause of stress, especially for people who work in the office.


The racing heart is sometimes very threatening and leads to a slight panic. Surely it is scary when something is wrong with the heart.

Before going to sleep, however, the phenomenon of an accelerated heartbeat is not all that unusual. The stress of everyday life is responsible for this and the brief shifting of the position to lying down can also accelerate the heartbeat.

Normally the heartbeat will find its normal rhythm again after a few minutes. If this is the case and there are no further symptoms, you should take care to minimize the stress.

However, if the palpitations occur very frequently and this is accompanied by other symptoms, the doctor should always be consulted.

Jamie Clark

Hello, I’m Jamie Clark, 32 years old, and I have been living in the USA for a few years.
Since I was a child, I have suffered from a house dust allergy, severely affecting me. I felt the effects both while exercising and while sleeping. Constant sneezing after getting up and difficult breathing were the consequences. The allergy has also developed into asthma, which is still a sporting restriction today.

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