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Old 02-03-2012, 01:42 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 5,989
Any idea what this is? (Racing heart while trying to sleep)

I'm a 28-year-old male with no major health problems and no known allergies, BMI of 25.8 (which makes me very slightly overweight).

I was wondering if one of the MediDopers might have some idea of what this is - I'm not asking for medical advice, and will certainly go see a doctor if I'm sufficiently worried. Anyway - sometimes, when I'm trying to sleep, my heart starts beating really, really fast. It's painless, but sufficiently unsettling that I've been creeped out once or twice - stayed up reading until it stopped.

Is this something I should be concerned about?
Old 02-03-2012, 04:08 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: On the cusp, also in SF
Posts: 5,718
My WAG would be some kind of anxiety attack, triggered by something that is relatively low in your consciousness so that it doesn't come to the front until you are settling down to sleep. This has happened to me on occasion.

Or if you have already started to fall asleep, it could be a stressful dream that wakes you up and that you immediately forget. This has also happened to me, although I am usually aware that there was some dreaming activity going on.

Old 02-03-2012, 04:23 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ottawa
Posts: 22,608
It may be a condition called supraventricular tachycardia.

During an episode of SVT, the heart’s electrical system doesn't work right, causing the heart to beat very fast. The heart beats at least 100 beats per minute and may reach 300 beats per minute. After treatment or on its own, the heart usually returns to a normal rate of 60 to 100 beats a minute.
I'm not a doctor (obviously). I only know about this condition because one of the goalies on the Toronto Maple Leafs suffered from it and had a couple of minor ablation corrective surgeries.

I think it's worth getting checked out. Anything that would cause my heart to start racing for no apparent reason would worry me. And it takes a lot to worry me.

Last edited by Leaffan; 02-03-2012 at 04:23 PM.
Old 02-03-2012, 04:31 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Location: London
Posts: 1,287
This has happened to me occasionally - heart racing so fast it made me feel sick, really thumping. It turned out to be dehydration. Make sure you drink enough in the late afternoon/evening.
Old 02-03-2012, 04:47 PM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Down the rabbit, whole!
Posts: 12,535
It sounds a bit like Night Terrors - that's a wiki link, and it mostly talks about children, but once and a while when I'm just dozing off or just waking up I get this - well, I don't actually remember a scary dream but I get the fast beating heart. It goes away in a minute or two.
Old 02-03-2012, 06:39 PM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 1
Im a similar age to you and have had similar symptoms, either racing heart rate while trying to sleep or waking up in the middle of the night. Doctor did multiple ECG tests - including a 24hr halter monitor. It was ultimately diagnosed it as panic attacks (was going through a fair amount of stress - starting new job, buying a house). On one occasion it beat so fast I thought I was going to pass out and called an ambulance - it was diagnosed as a tachycardia. Have since completed a Cognitive behavioral therapy course. Unstressed myself, improved diet and exercise and the symptoms have pretty much cleared up. Definitely recommend seeing a doctor to get to the bottom of the problem, even if just for the reassurance nothings wrong
Old 02-04-2012, 12:35 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: The slow lane.
Posts: 144
I would recommend having the thyroid function checked.
Old 02-04-2012, 12:50 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: The Zen Arcade
Posts: 8,288
I had it and did the heart monitor thing. Funny thing is, the doc's office screwed up and it took 5 months for the heart monitor. In that time I had found a new job and cut down caffeine to only before 11am. Stress and caffeine were the cause for me. But seriously, it's your heart man. Don't mess around. Schedule a doctor's appointment.
Old 02-04-2012, 02:00 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: DC area
Posts: 29,426
I had this after my first husband died. Test, monitoring, etc. all show that I have sinus tachycardia that is almost certainly stress related. It caused palpitations (the awareness of the heart beat) and sometimes fairly extreme heart rates.

In any case, I was on a beta blocker for a few months and the problem mostly righted itself.

Go to the doctor. Say what you're feeling and what's going on in your life. The testing is easy and painless. Good luck.
Old 02-06-2012, 01:23 AM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: The Mitt
Posts: 14,067
Originally Posted by Teacake View Post
This has happened to me occasionally - heart racing so fast it made me feel sick, really thumping. It turned out to be dehydration. Make sure you drink enough in the late afternoon/evening.
This is what I came in here to mention.

Are you drinking a decent amount of water during the day? Caffeinated coffee, soda, and alcohol are all diuretics, so if you're consuming a good amount of that stuff, day in and day out, instead of water, you're probably more dehydrated than you think.

Last edited by cmyk; 02-06-2012 at 01:24 AM.
Old 02-06-2012, 01:37 AM
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Lincoln Park, Chicago
Posts: 6,094
It has happened to me. Turned out to be nothing. But it *might* have been something. I recommend you see the doc sooner rather than later. Just in case.

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