Waking up with a racing heart can be confusing and scary, but it is rarely a cause for concern. Many factors can cause a person to wake up with a racing heart, including diet, stress, sleep deprivation, and arrhythmia.
Sometimes, upon waking, it may feel as though the heart is beating very fast or pounding in the chest. A person may also feel shaky or anxious when this happens.
A racing heart may feel similar to heart palpitations or arrhythmia. Although this might feel worrying, it is typically linked to everyday factors such as anxiety and diet, and it is usually only temporary.
A person may 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 experience this regularly may want to check in with their doctor, who will be able to determine or treat the underlying cause.
This article takes a look at top 15 reasons a person may wake up with their heart racing and when to see a doctor.
High stress or anxiety
Increases in anxiety and stress levels may trigger the release of hormones in the blood that raise heart rate.
Anxiety is a very common cause of heart palpitations. In fact, according to American Family Physician, around 31% of heart palpitation cases are due to a mental factor such as stress, anxiety, or internal conflict.
People with high stress lifestyles and those with anxiety disorders might sometimes experience heart palpitations when they wake up. This may be more pronounced during periods of high stress or when anxiety symptoms are worse, though it can also happen out of the blue.
People with stress or anxiety may also notice other symptoms, including:
- trouble falling or staying asleep
- persistent worrying
- difficulty resting
- shortness of breath
- rapid, shallow breathing
Diet can have a significant impact on sleep quality, and specific types of food — especially if a person eats them at night — can increase the risk of waking up with heart palpitations.