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Old 12-20-2007, 11:44 AM   #1
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Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

Hello,

For the past 6 months, I wake up about 4 nights a week in the middle of the night with my heart racing probably over 200 beats per minute. At times this is also accompanied by light sweating, shaking, and a weird feeling in my head and chest. I've been to see the doctor on several occasions. I've had 3 EKGs done and an echocardiogram done and all have been normal. I've worn a heart monitor and caught about 20 episodes of a racing heart, but all the readings have come up normal. I've been to a psychologist, and he can't find anything that would be triggering this. This is really making my life difficult. I have an appointment for a sleep study, as they are now seeing if I have sleep apnea. I am 40 years old and am pretty fit, and definately not overweight. Does anyone have any ideas on what could be triggering these attacks at night. The attacks never happen at any other time except when it is waking me up from my sleep. Thanks

 
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Old 12-24-2007, 11:16 AM   #2
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

Hey jedzeppy,

Thanks for the post. I have been going through the exact same thing and it is driving me nuts. I found your post via ****** and I wanted to ask if you have found any solutions. I have been waking up in the middle of the night like clockwork. I will hit the sack and guaranteed I will wake at 3 or 4 with my heart going a hundred miles per hour. I will then fall asleep and wake 1 or 2 hours later in a full on sweat. I have been taking Ambien, but when I am off it my symptoms just get worse the next time. I hate taking artificial drugs just because they only mask the problem and end up making it worse in the end... What are you doing to deal with these issues? Thanks!

 
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Old 12-25-2007, 12:53 AM   #3
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

Hi,

I am having a similar problem at the moment. For the last three months I have been waking up with a racing, pounding heart with a very anxious feeling, sometimes with sweat or damp night clothes. I am guaranteed to be woken up between 4am and 6am every morning with these sensations. I have never had a problem with sleep like this before. I no longer need my alarm clock. However, I have noticed I am waking up slightly later at around 5am to 6am (my record now is 5.55am). My BP is up at the moment and this may be a factor. I am also under a lot of stress and anxiety for the last few months, so no doubt this isn't helping either. Hope this helps.

Marantz.
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Last edited by marantz1935; 12-25-2007 at 12:54 AM.

 
Old 12-28-2007, 12:49 PM   #4
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

Wow, I can't say how glad I am to see someone start this post, because I keep trying to find out if anybody is having the same symptoms as me, and everything all of you said is what I have been experiencing.

I am 31, have recently had a stress echo (which showed nothing abnormal, except tachycardia before and after the test, even after given 10 minutes to rest). I also have Hashimoto's thyroid disease, which I've struggled with for over 7 yrs., but seem to have been on the correct medication for.. thyroid tests are usually normal. In addition, I had two extremely scary panic attacks for the first time in my life, both involving going to the ER, back around September, and I still haven't quite figured out why. Luckily, I haven't had episodes like that since then, but have relied on Ativan daily, as well as an increase in dosage of Celexa (SSRI) to keep things more under control. Despite this, I've still had problems with anxiety every day. It comes and goes, but the only way I know how to describe it, is that it often feels like I have a constant surge of electricity going through my body, which gets worse depending on caffeine, sugar intake, exercise that is too strenuous, and also gets worse as I get closer to my monthly cycle).

All I can say, is that before all of this, my life seemed so normal. Back to the sleep problems, my second panic attack a few months ago had involved jolting awake around 3 am, only to feel my heart feeling as though it was going to pound out of my chest, and feeling shaky, dizzy, terrified, etc., and only got worse as I tried to get up, walk around a little, and had tried to calm myself down. It didn't work, and I had to call the paramedics, feeling terrified that I was having a true heart attack.

This is somewhat similar to what I am experiencing almost every morning now, except not quite as extreme. Now, everyday, I seem to wake up right around 4-6 am every single morning, feeling panicked, feeling my heart racing, and feeling really dehydrated and just really "off" somehow (also feeling that can't get a full breath feeling, which doesn't go away until after I've fallen back asleep. It also takes me up to 20 min. or so each time for me to really go back to sleep, but even then, I often find myself still waking up feeling that same way again, just minutes after falling back asleep.

What I can't understand about this, besides all of these scary symptoms, is why it only seems to happen around 4-6 am, and not when I wake up at say 1, 2, or 3 am, which I always do, because I have to use the bathroom from drinking a lot of water before bed. Usually, when I wake up then, I haven't started feeling that way yet..

I hope more people will share their stories on here if they have had these problems too. I don't understand what is causing this for us. I am starting to wonder if it has anything to do with sleep apnea though, which I've never really considered since I've never had these problems before. I do definitely seem to always breath through my mouth, mainly at night, and have been that way since I was a child (have always had a ton of allergy problems).

I have no idea what to do about this..

enigma

 
Old 12-28-2007, 05:22 PM   #5
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

I've had this happen to me also. I've also had many of the same diagnostic tests that you've all had and everything was normal. I'ts actually quite common (moreso for women apparently), as you can probably tell from how many posts you've seen about it here. So, basically, the docs all said it was essentially a panic attack in the middle of the night. I have noticed it happens more often when I'm stressed about something going on in my life.

I've thought about it a lot and I'm inclined to agree with them. I figure that if you can have a panic attack during the day which causes pretty much the same reaction, then why not at night when you're asleep? When you think about it, while you're sleeping, you have more time to reflect on things going on in your life that are upsetting you. You may not realize it, but it's possible your subconscious is dwelling on these things, and because your mind keeps working all the time, even while you're asleep, then it's not unusual for your body to react to the thoughts going on in your head at the time.

In conclusion, I have to agree that if all of your diagnostic tests have come back normal, then you have to at least consider the possibility that it might just be anxiety/panic that is causing this to happen. Of course I'm not a doctor, and this is all just speculation on my part, but that's what I believe to be true.

 
Old 01-07-2008, 07:24 PM   #6
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

Quote:
Originally Posted by enigma3 View Post
... Back to the sleep problems, my second panic attack a few months ago had involved jolting awake around 3 am, only to feel my heart feeling as though it was going to pound out of my chest, and feeling shaky, dizzy, terrified, etc., and only got worse as I tried to get up, walk around a little, and had tried to calm myself down. It didn't work, and I had to call the paramedics, feeling terrified that I was having a true heart attack.

This is somewhat similar to what I am experiencing almost every morning now, except not quite as extreme. Now, everyday, I seem to wake up right around 4-6 am every single morning, feeling panicked, feeling my heart racing, and feeling really dehydrated and just really "off" somehow (also feeling that can't get a full breath feeling, which doesn't go away until after I've fallen back asleep. It also takes me up to 20 min. or so each time for me to really go back to sleep, but even then, I often find myself still waking up feeling that same way again, just minutes after falling back asleep.

What I can't understand about this, besides all of these scary symptoms, is why it only seems to happen around 4-6 am, and not when I wake up at say 1, 2, or 3 am, which I always do, because I have to use the bathroom from drinking a lot of water before bed. Usually, when I wake up then, I haven't started feeling that way yet..

enigma
Enigma,

Classic symptoms of sleep apnea are waking many times over the course of the night, getting up to pee (nocturia), feeling panicked when waking, breathlessness, racing heart, or in other words, all of the things you've mentioned.

You don't have to be old, overweight, or snore to have sleep apnea. People who (like myself) are mouthbreathers and who have allergies tend to be at risk for this condition, too.

My sleep specialist told me that the reason one gets up to go to the bathroom frequently at night is because sleep apnea can prevent the individual from going into the deeper levels of sleep. When you're in those deeper stages, the body is more or less paralyzed and even if your bladder was full, you wouldn't wake to urinate. My sleep doctor said one of the questions they always asked a new patient is, "how often do you get up at night to go to the bathroom?" Unless, there are urological problems, getting up to go to the bathroom at night means the patient is a candidate for a sleep study.

I would encourage you to learn more about sleep apnea. I did. And I demanded a referral to a sleep specialist. My treatment is medication free, and has made a world of difference in my life. And just for your info, treatment of sleep apnea can reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and acid reflux...symptoms that can also be a red flag for sleep apnea.

Take care, and good luck. Do let us know how you fare.

Bethsheba

 
Old 01-07-2008, 07:30 PM   #7
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

Quote:
Originally Posted by marantz1935 View Post
Hi,

I am having a similar problem at the moment. For the last three months I have been waking up with a racing, pounding heart with a very anxious feeling, sometimes with sweat or damp night clothes. I am guaranteed to be woken up between 4am and 6am every morning with these sensations. I have never had a problem with sleep like this before. ....

Marantz.
These can be symptoms of a sleep disorder but a sleep disorder can also be caused by meds. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, but my symptoms, were worse with bp medication. If you never had a problem with sleep like that before, I would suspect bp meds/underlying physical condition (hormonal/adrenal?)....but I"m not a doctor....just someone with sleep apnea whose symptoms were worse with bp medication.

Bethsheba

 
Old 01-16-2008, 07:27 PM   #8
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

I have these EXACT symptoms, however, I assume it is because my father passed away a month ago from a massive heart attack.

I ALWAYS wake up between 4-5 a.m. when I sleep at night and feel panicked and have a dry mouth and sometimes I'm nauseous too. I have had 3 EKG's done and blood tests--my CK levels were at 400.

Any opinions?

 
Old 02-22-2008, 02:12 AM   #9
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

yeah im 17 and ive been geting this for a year. The Dr diagnosed me as having GAD. my symptomes involve heart palps, shaking, confusion and i sometimes jolt awake. when im trying to fall asleep my brain is extremly active and all sorts of random thoughts come into my head.

 
Old 02-22-2008, 10:13 AM   #10
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

Quote:
Originally Posted by bethsheba View Post
These can be symptoms of a sleep disorder but a sleep disorder can also be caused by meds. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, but my symptoms, were worse with bp medication. If you never had a problem with sleep like that before, I would suspect bp meds/underlying physical condition (hormonal/adrenal?)....but I"m not a doctor....just someone with sleep apnea whose symptoms were worse with bp medication.

Bethsheba
Thanks Beth,

I keep telling my GP about me waking up the way I do and he just keeps saying it's anxiety. I don't think I was on BP meds when it started, though I remember it was the week I discovered my blood pressure was up which sent me into panic mode. My doctor is very slow to refer me to a specialist for anything. He just keeps telling me it's all in my mind. I suppect it's a hormonal thing myself.

Marantz.
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Old 02-22-2008, 02:56 PM   #11
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

Hello Marantz,

What a nice surprise to find you here! I peruse this board on occasion just to see if anything's new, but for the most part my sleep problems are minor now that I'm off meds, .

Quote:
Originally Posted by marantz1935 View Post
...I keep telling my GP about me waking up the way I do and he just keeps saying it's anxiety.
He's wrong...he's quite simply wrong.

Although I think that bp meds cause more sleep problems than people realize/remember, I don't think your problems are due to the meds either. I suspect, based on what I've read, that your condition may be more adrenal in nature....some common symptoms of adrenal problems are acute anxiety, sweating, panic attacks, and of course hypertension. Tingling and numbness of the limbs can also occur. What makes this a bit complicated is that panic/anxiety attacks have similar symptoms.

Quote:
... My doctor is very slow to refer me to a specialist for anything. He just keeps telling me it's all in my mind....
Well, I for one, know it is not in your mind!!! But this is a tough one....have you given any thought about how you could go about seeing a specialist? I would think an endocrinologist might be the one to see...maybe a nephrologist? When I needed a sleep medicine specialist, I called my insurance company and they gave me the names of the specialists for 500 or so miles and they told me what I needed to do to see one.

Bethsheba

 
Old 02-23-2008, 03:46 PM   #12
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

Marantz,

Ignore what I said about hormonal/adrenal...based on your post on the High and Low Blood Pressure Boards, you have the classic symptoms of sleep apnea.

Bethsheba

 
Old 02-28-2008, 11:39 AM   #13
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Cool Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

I experience the same thing at times also. Do you also have shortness of breath? It is interesting to see that so many males are posting. Is this a predominantly male thing? Age related? Greg 48 male

 
Old 02-29-2008, 10:43 AM   #14
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

Quote:
Originally Posted by gaugreg1x View Post
Do you also have shortness of breath?
Hi,

Not usually. I did feel a bit out of breath on two occasions in bed, but I was on medication for elevated blood pressure and on of the side effects is just that. I still wake with a racing heart every morning with out fail. My blood pressure is up as well first thing in the morning and actually decreases a half hour later (go figure).

I've had a racing heart for a few month now and prior to that it was never an issue. My heart rate tends to increase and decrease suddenly throughout the day, even when not really exerting myself.

Marantz.
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Old 04-08-2008, 08:07 PM   #15
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Re: Heart racing in the middle of night when sleeping

I am glad I am not the only one going through this. It is just terrifying...and annoying. I have NEVER had sleep problems, but this has been happening for about 3 months now. First it was about 2 times per month. Then last month it was happening for days on end, and I could not fall back to sleep. It was like I would get a "zap" when trying to fall asleep and then be wide awake with heart palps. I had one doc say it was anxiety, and the one I saw today said she didn't think so. She said I am not showing the signs of classic anxiety. She ordered a B12 deficiency test and also a sleep study. We will see. I just want to get back to normal. It kind of scares me to go to sleep.

Cheri

 
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