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suddenly awaken out of sleep with a fast heartbeat
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suddenly awaken out of sleep with a fast heartbeat

hi, just wondering why sometimes after being in bed at night and being asleep briefly do I suddenly jerk awake, and then notice that a fast heart beat starts to kick in? Then I notice that my pulse is elevated and it scares me then it really starts beating fast! My hands start to shake, I get a really dry mouth and sometimes my extremeties will tremble! It's a horrible feeling, as is super scary!!! It really makes me not even want to go to bed and go to sleep!! Could this posssibly be anxiety, or a sleep disorder? Also notice it happens more frequently if i eat right before going to bed.
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Avatar_f_tn
Our brains (and the bodies they are connected to) have certain defined sleep stages that we go through every night, and when they occur in the proper order, we seldom wake before morning.  But these stages can be disturbed by a bunch of things, among them, as you suspect, anxiety.  The same goes for eating right before bed, because digestion is a whole 'nother set of activities not usually associated with bedtime (it's also a good way to put on pounds).

If we wake at the wrong point in a sleep stage, very odd emotional and physical things can happen.  Night terrors are one, and it sounds as though you might be on the fringes of that.

I would suggest not eating or drinking anything right before bed, and then keep a sleep diary, for a couple of weeks to a month, noting every time this happens.  If the frequency bothers you, it could be time to investigate either a sleep disorder or a possible underlying anxiety problem.  

Here's information on sleep cycles:

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/excessive-sleepiness-10/sleep-101

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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you very much for that information!!! It really makes alot of sense. I'm going to journal my sleep starting tonight. I'm also, going to cut out the fatty, carbs, and deserts before bed. Thanks again for the info.
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1182699_tn?1297578384
I wake that way a lot and even feel my heart flip-flopping. My cardio has me on a  21-day event monitor to see if they can catch anything....but I believe some of it may be nocturnal panic attacks.  I suffer from panic attacks during the day and I believe that anxiety carries over as my mind never seems to stop. I hope some of your changes will help you feel better. Best to you!
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for that info! I do suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. I never even thought about nocturnal panic attacks! The mind is a very magnificent and complicated thing! Do u ever notice that when this happens to you that sometimes you can get it to slow down if you tell yourself your ok and not going to die? Last night was frightening for me because I couldnt get it too slow down for almost twenty minutes!! It felt like an eternity! didnt know weather to call the paramedics or what! It finally slowed down but then left my mouth extremely dry and I felt like i was trembling inside. It sounds like anxiety right? But I also have had pvc's on and off for years. This also happens when I'm overly tired. How about you? Maybe sleep apnea is to blame? All I know is it almost makes me fear going to sleep sometimes! Thnks again
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1182699_tn?1297578384
That's exactly how I feel...last time it happened I was yelling for my husband to take me to the hospital and he was doing everything he could to calm me..I ended up getting on here and yarrow (who I now consider an angel on earth) answered my distress call...it took about 30 minutes to slow but I was still having skipped beats...I also took a xanax which I take sparingly but I thought was warranted that night, and fell back asleep about 2 hours later...Sometimes I feel like my brain is falling asleep and I jerk terribly and then my heart races...it's crazy! That night I literally woke up to my heart flip-flopping and me gasping for air...I have terrible cotton-mouth when I panic, I shake all over, my teeth chatter, I get short of breath, I get dizzy and nauseated, along with the skipped and racing heart beats,and I also get a terrible urge to void...very weird...and yes, I think I am going to die...it is a terrible feeling.I would give anything to not feel my heart...I don't care if it wants to skip, I just don't want to know about it..LOL..I do believe it is panic and anxiety in my case although I have suffered from PAC's (and now they are telling me PVC's as I wear this event monitor) for the past 17 years. I can say, that I feel like I never sleep...every little noise wakes me and every little change in my body wakes me...it's very frustrating. Make sure to let your dr. know if it continues as he may be able to recommend something helpful in your case.  Let us know how you're doing. Best to you!
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Avatar_f_tn
"It felt like an eternity! didnt know weather to call the paramedics or what! It finally slowed down but then left my mouth extremely dry and I felt like i was trembling inside. It sounds like anxiety right?"

I've had the same impulse:  "I'm a-gonna die!  Yes, time to call EMT or it's all over and I'm heading to the Great Beyond!"  But over the years (that's years!) I have noticed that even though I'm terribly aware of the arrhythmia and terribly uncomfortable--get this--I can get up, walk around, play with the computer.....and I'm fine:  No disabling chest pain, no true faintness, no cold sweat, no incapacitating breathlessness.  In other words, my circulatory system is working quite well.  Ever noticed that?

Another clue:  If I take an Ativan or Xanax, my scariest symptoms drop off to about nothing in twenty minutes or so, even if the PVCs, etc, continue.

Next time you wake up like this and are terrorized, you might think about taking one of the antianxiety meds and see if you feel remarkably better in about a half hour.  If you do, there's a lesson in there about what the cause may be.

Since I've been tested extensively and know that my arrhythmias are related to panic, I have also learned that--for me--Zoloft eventually takes away the fear of bedtime and assures a good night's sleep.

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Avatar_n_tn
This is what's happening to me, almost to the letter.  My doctor is not sure if it's anxiety now, as it strikes out of the blue when i am actually really only wanting to turn over and go back to sleep.

I'm terrified.  My doctor picked up a sinus tachycardia on the ecg this morning but before setting that up he said he heard my heart beat faster than my wrist pulse....what could that mean?

I'm so scared now as my dad passed away suddenly last year of a heart attack.  I know that's different to arrythmia but i witnessed it - and now i sit there in the middle of the night and am so afraid i'm going to collapse in the street....if i do then it will be fibrillation.  I just hope if that happens i don't know anything about it.  people tell me my dad didn't know anything...excuse me i was there, i saw the look on his face....but yes it was a heart attack, different thing.  So scared, but would love to keep up with you guys on this thread as it's a puzzle to my doctor at the moment.  he thought it was panic but he's not sure, so being referred to a cardiologist.

thanks for listening - and i would welcome ANY thoughts   :-)
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Avatar_f_tn
Your doctor sounds like a kind man, but I gather he is not a cardiologist, right?

"...he heard my heart beat faster than my wrist pulse....what could that mean? "

When your heart beats, the blood is sent out from the heart to the extremities, but it doesn't arrive everywhere instantly.  What happens is that the heart generates a wave of pressure that expands each segment of the arteries AS THE BLOOD GETS THERE.  So there is no way that the sound of the heartbeat will be exactly simultaneous with what you or the doctor feel at your wrist.  It will be close, but not simultaneous.  If your pulse is being checked down at the tops of your feet, it will be even a bit slower to get there than to your wrist.

Perhaps that is what your doctor is referring to, but that would be a normal finding.

  
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Avatar_f_tn
Rosemary, I've been thinking about it, and I'd like to add one thought:

You witnessed your father die suddenly and probably unexpectedly of a heart attack.  My dear, that is a traumatic event, and I'd give odds that you are suffering from something like post traumatic stress disorder now.  My strong advice to you is that in addition to seeing a cardiologist (who will probably find your heart normal) that you see a counselor or a psychiatrist to help you with anxiety and panic that have a perfectly reasonable cause.
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995271_tn?1312416925
Yarrow wrote:  "But over the years (that's years!) I have noticed that even though I'm terribly aware of the arrhythmia and terribly uncomfortable--get this--I can get up, walk around, play with the computer.....and I'm fine:  No disabling chest pain, no true faintness, no cold sweat, no incapacitating breathlessness.  In other words, my circulatory system is working quite well.  Ever noticed that?"


This is well said and I think it's something that everyone with benign idiopathic arrhythmias should keep in mind.  I say this to myself when my heart acts up.

It also makes me think about cardiologists who see truly hemo-compromised patients by the truck load every day.  They can tell just by looking at them, no tests needed!  Put yourself in the cardiologist's shoes when they're running from one life threatening emergency to another, what kind of time would you spend with a patient who looks and tests fine?   I don't mean this comment to be preachy at all.  Just think about it next time you feel blown off by a medical doctor.  Continue to be diligent and be VERY proactive in your health care.  Don't expect a doctor to care as much about you as you do.


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995271_tn?1312416925
Hi  Rosemary349, what you went through with your Dad is a horrible experience.  I'm so sorry.    

I think part of the problem might be related to the traumatic experience you went through.  I too went through something similar with my Dad.  He ended up with a transplant and is OK now after 22 years, but that trauma has left a lasting scar on me.  My chief concern in life is my heart.  Oddly enough, my worst arrhythmias hit when I turned 42.  That's how old my father was when he had his massive MI.  I'm not the one that made the connection.  My heart has been tested ad nauseam and it's fine.  

My cardiologist made the age connection during the interview when he asked me about my father's history.  It went something like this:     Doc:"How old was he when he had the MI?"    Me:  "42"      Doc:  "How old are you?"  me:  "42"  Doc:  "[raises eyebrow]  Huh."  Subconscious after 22 years??  maybe, it's one of my explanations.  

My point is, our reaction to trauma is dramatic and has physical effects.
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