Suddenly waking up with a racing heart: the main causes


Waking up with a racing heart can be confusing and scary, but it’s rarely a cause for concern. Many factors can cause such a phenomenon, including diet, stress, lack of sleep and arrhythmia. Sometimes when you wake up you may feel like your heart is beating very fast or your chest is pounding. You may also feel shaky or anxious when this happens.

A racing heart may feel like heart palpitations or arrhythmia. Although this phenomenon may seem disturbing, it is usually related to everyday factors such as anxiety and diet, and it is usually only temporary. You can also wake up with a racing heart due to the presence of a medical condition, such as diabetes, a sleep disorder, or anemia. People who suffer from it regularly should see their doctor, who will be able to determine or treat the underlying cause. This article looks at why you might wake up with a racing heart and when to see a doctor.

1 High stress or anxiety

There are many factors that can cause a person to wake up with a racing heart. Increased levels of anxiety and stress can trigger the release of hormones in the blood that increase heart rate. Anxiety is a very common cause of heart palpitations. In fact, approximately 31% of cases of heart palpitation are due to a mental factor such as stress, anxiety, or internal conflict. People with very stressful lifestyles and those with anxiety disorders can sometimes experience heart palpitations upon waking. These palpitations may be more pronounced during times of high stress or when anxiety symptoms worsen, but they can also occur out of the blue.

People suffering from stress or may also notice other symptoms, including:

– difficulty falling or staying asleep

– persistent worry

– difficulty resting

– shortness of breath

– rapid and superficial breathing

2 Diet

Diet can have a significant impact on sleep quality, and certain types of foods, especially if a person eats them in the evening, can increase the risk of waking up with heart palpitations.

Sugar before bedtime

The consumption of sugary foods before a nap or before bedtime may result in waking up with heart palpitations cardiac ations. The body easily absorbs sugar, and eating sugary foods can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. This extra blood sugar can cause the body to release stress hormones, which can cause stress-like symptoms.


Caffeine consumption can also cause heart palpitations in some people. This stimulant, found in coffee, tea and sodas, can cause the heart to race.

A person may also experience symptoms such as

– tremors

– nervousness

– anxiety

– difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep


Dehydration can also cause an irregular heartbeat. Minor dehydration can cause symptoms such as thirst, dry mouth, and decreased urine flow. If dehydration worsens, the person may also experience rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, and low blood pressure.

Alcohol at night

Drinking a lot of alcohol in the evening can cause your heart to race in the morning, especially after heavy drinking. Drinking alcohol makes your heart beat faster, and the body may take some time to recover. A person may notice other symptoms, such as:

– extreme thirst

– nausea

– muscle aches

– headaches

– fatigue


A nightmare is a disturbing dream. Nightmares can cause physical symptoms in the body and cause a person to wake up with a racing heart. She may also sweat and shake. Night terrors can also cause feelings of panic and rapid heartbeat upon waking. They are more common in children than in adults. People don’t always remember the specific details of these episodes. Sleep paralysis can also cause an increased heart rate. During these episodes, the person wakes up unable to move. She usually experiences intense fear and hallucinations, and may also feel pressure on her chest. If nightmares are the cause, the racing heartbeat usually subsides shortly after waking up.

Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep can cause a number of health problems. Lack of sleep can also cause a person to feel that their heart rate is higher than usual.

Sleep disturbances or lack of sleep can cause a number of health problems. The next day, the person may also feel like their heart rate is slightly faster.

Here are other signs of lack of sleep

– fatigue

– clumsiness

– mental fog

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is the cause of many sleep-related symptoms and can also cause a rapid heartbeat upon waking. Sleep apnea occurs when a person repeatedly stops breathing during the night. These sudden pauses in breathing can reduce oxygen levels and put extra pressure on the heart.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea are following

– very loud snoring that can wake the person up

– a feeling of lack of air when you wake up

– a dry mouth when you wake up

– not feeling well rested the next day

It is important to treat sleep apnea because the reduced oxygen supply to the brain and body can be very harmful in the long term. Sleep apnea can also contribute to new onsets of atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation occurs when the heart’s electrical signals are out of sync, causing the upper chambers to beat too fast. Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of heart rhythm abnormality. It causes heart palpitations, which some people describe as a racing heart.

It can also cause the following symptoms

– shortness of breath

– anxiety

– chest pain

– weakness and fatigue

– dizziness

Atrial fibrillation itself is not a serious condition, but it can increase the risk of certain complications, including heart failure and stroke.


Diabetes is a disease that affects the rate blood sugar. When the blood sugar level is low (hypoglycemia), the person may have a racing heart and anxiety. This is because it triggers the release of epinephrine in the body. Epinephrine is a hormone linked to the “fight or flight” response.

The release of epinephrine can also cause:

– anxiety

– tingling

– sweating

Low blood sugar can also cause fatigue, confusion, hunger and nausea. Over time, repeated episodes of high and low blood sugar can increase the risk of cardiovascular and circulatory problems. Effective management of diabetes can reduce these risks.

Female sex hormones

The waking up with a racing heart can also be linked to the menstrual cycle. Specifically, a racing heart may be due to changes in the body’s hormone levels.

Significant changes in hormone levels estrogen and progesterone levels in the body can cause the heart to race in some women. As you approach menopause, estrogen levels naturally decrease, which can also lead to a rapid heart rate. Episodes of hot flashes can also cause an increased heart rate.

Certain medications

Some medications, especially stimulants, can also cause a rapid heartbeat upon waking.

Heart palpitations may be a side effect of the following medications :

– inhaled steroids, such as those people use to treat asthma

– pseudoephedrine , which is a common ingredient in cold medicines

– Ritalin and Adderall, used to treat symptoms of hyperactivity with hyperactivity caution

– certain thyroid medications.

Anyone taking medications should check their label or contact a pharmacy for possible side effects that may affect the heart.

When to consult a doctor ecin

Anyone with serious symptoms in addition to a racing heart, such as chest pain and dizziness, should contact emergency medical services. These are signs of a heart attack and they require immediate medical attention. That said, having your heart racing for a few seconds after a nap is probably not a problem. However, if it happens again, it is important to see a doctor. Indeed, constant palpitations can be a sign of an underlying problem. Anyone with a history of heart disease who suffers from palpitations should also see a doctor. Correctly diagnosing the problem can take time. Doctors may perform a physical exam and ask the person about the medications they are taking. They will likely order an electrocardiogram (ECG) to monitor the heart


Heart palpitations. (nd).

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). (nd).

Kendzerska, T., et al. (2017). Sleep apnea increases the risk of new-onset atrial fibrillation: A clinical cohort study .

Wexler, R., et al. (31). Palpitations: Assessment in Primary Care.

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