Waking up with your heart racing usually isn’t too serious, but it can also be a sign of underlying conditions. Here’s what you need to know.
If you wake up with your heart racing, you’re probably wondering why it’s happening and whether or not to be worried. Oftentimes, someone who wakes up with a racing heart is fine. But a racing heart can also indicate other health problems, especially for those with certain pre-existing medical issues. Let’s explore this topic a little more in-depth.
Common Reasons Why You’re Waking Up With Your Heart Racing
- Stress or anxiety — People with high-stress lifestyles or anxiety disorders might have heart palpitations when they wake up, especially during stressful times.
- Night terrors, nightmares, and sleep paralysis — Heart pounding after nightmares isn’t harmful and should subside as the day goes on.
- Sleep deprivation — Those who don’t get enough sleep can have a slightly faster heartbeat the next day.
- Diet — Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol (especially before bed) as well as dehydration can increase the risk of heart palpitations.
- Diabetes — Low blood sugar releases epinephrine in people with diabetes, which can cause a pounding heart.
- Fever — Changes in body temperature can induce changes in heart rate.
- A-fib (Atrial fibrillation) — This is a common kind of abnormal heartbeat that can cause heart palpitations.
- Sleep apnea — Low oxygen levels at night can put more stress on your heart, causing it to race.
- Anemia — People with anemia can experience heart palpitations due to a lack of healthy red blood cells.
- Hyperthyroidism — An overactive thyroid overproduces the thyroxine hormone, which can cause a rapid heartbeat.
- Menstrual hormones — Changing estrogen and progesterone levels during menstruation, as well as hot flashes during menopause, may cause a racing heart.
- Medications — Certain medications can make your heart race, especially those that contain stimulants like amphetamines, pseudoephedrine, ADHD medication, and some thyroid medication.
Look Out for These Other Symptoms
- Shaking — If you wake up with a racing heart and you’re shaking, this could be caused by diabetes, hyperthyroidism, fever, medication, night terrors, or being cold.
- Shortness of breath — If shortness of breath accompanies your racing heart, you could have anemia, AFib, sleep apnea, or anxiety.
- Pounding — If you feel your heart racing and a pounding in your head, you could be having heart palpitations due to diabetes or fever.
- Chest pain and dizziness — Waking up with a racing heart, chest pain, and dizziness are warning signs of a heart attack. If you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.
When to See a Doctor
Although this seems like a long list of scary symptoms, waking up with a racing heart or heart palpitations is usually harmless and it will go away on its own. However, if this happens consistently — and especially if you think it’s getting worse — you should seek professional medical attention.
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, listen to your heart using a stethoscope, and possibly perform some other tests. This could include an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG), chest x-ray, blood or urine analysis, and other tests depending on your symptoms.
If you’re looking for medical help, advice, and guidance for your racing heart, schedule a consultation with Tri-City Cardiology today!