Nighttime palpitations may be related to a blood pressure problem or sleep apnea. To be surer of its cause, it is better to consult your doctor if they occur on a recurring basis.
Palpitations are defined as the perception of the heartbeat. They are common and, although they are a cause for concern, they are not usually harmful. The heartbeat is perceived as thumping or fluttering. In fact, they are usually accelerated or very strong. Most people find palpitations unpleasant.
Palpitations are usually due to exercise, stress, or certain medications. On the other hand, they can also be a symptom of some pathology. They are even accompanied by other chest discomfort or difficulty breathing. In this article we explain what palpitations consist of, and especially why they occur when you go to bed.
What are the causes of palpitations?
As we have mentioned, palpitations are not a problem most of the time. Therefore, it is difficult to find its cause. However, some of the most frequent situations in which they occur are:
- Times of stress or anxiety. Although it is a subconscious and prolonged stress, palpitations can appear as a symptom.
- Exercise tends to speed up your heart rate and cause palpitations. They usually disappear with rest.
- Substances such as caffeine, nicotine, or exciting drugs. Cocaine and amphetamines stand out for producing palpitations.
- Certain changes such as pregnancy or menstruation.
- Thyroid disorders, especially hyperthyroidism.
The cardiac abnormalities such as arrhythmias often occur as palpitations. Therefore, although they are not usually serious, it is important to investigate their cause if they persist or cause other discomforts.
Sometimes people only notice the palpitations at bedtime. In these cases, they are usually noticed on the neck or throat. This is often due to a change in blood pressure. And it is that, when we sleep, our blood pressure is usually lower.
In fact, it tends to rise during the day, reaching its highest point in the afternoon. However, it can sometimes drop excessively at night. The heart beats faster to be able to maintain the irrigation in all the organs. Therefore, palpitations are noted. Even pain and shortness of breath can occur.
On the other hand, we cannot forget that stress is one of the main causes of palpitations. It’s no wonder that stressful thoughts come to us at bedtime. Accumulated anxiety and stress often disrupt sleep and rest.
Another cause of night palpitation can be sleep apnea. It is a disorder where breathing is interrupted or becomes very shallow. These interruptions can last from a few seconds to minutes, and repeat throughout the night. The person suffering from sleep apnea cannot get adequate rest.
Similarly, it is important to note that posture at bedtime is decisive. When you sleep on your side, the pressure makes your heart beat more intensely.
The risk of suffering a complication is low. However, when they are due to heart disease, the risk is high. Fainting can occur, as blood pressure drops when the heart beats too fast.
There can even be a stroke. For example, when it comes to atrial fibrillation, the blood forms clots. If these detach, they can obstruct brain circulation.
Palpitations can be a symptom of a cardiac arrhythmia. They cause the heart to beat ineffectively and can lead to cardiac arrest.
Palpitations are very frequent and usually do not represent any pathology. They are usually a simple physiological situation in which the heartbeat is perceived more intensely. However, when they are more persistent or are accompanied by other symptoms, they should be studied.
Similarly, when they occur at night, they can point to an alteration in blood pressure or sleep apnea. If in doubt, it is advisable to go to the doctor.