Two reasons why you wake up in the morning with a racing heart
If you wake up in the morning with a fast heartbeat, you may have some type of rapid heart activity or so-called palpitations.
According to Michael J. Blah, director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Center in Maryland, palpitations are sensations of an abnormal heartbeat that may last only a few seconds and represent a premature heartbeat. They may also be persistent, potentially indicating an arrhythmia.
Arrhythmia occurs when the heartbeat deviates from the normal pace. This can mean a beat that happens faster than normal, slower than normal, or as an irregular beat. However, unlike arrhythmia, palpitations are not necessarily dangerous and can help you detect other health conditions.
One of the main conditions that can cause palpitations is sleep apnea, which can be a potentially serious disorder. It occurs when breathing stops while you sleep. This happens when the brain sometimes fails to communicate properly with the muscles that regulate breathing.
More commonly, however, sleep apnea can be related to muscle relaxation patterns in the back of the throat, which can lead to a narrowing of the airway. Such narrowing can lead to a drop in air intake and a drop in blood oxygen levels.
A drop in blood oxygen levels can make breathing difficult, sometimes causing a gag reflex. This can then trigger your brain to wake you up, if only for a moment. As a result, there is poor sleep and occasional heart palpitations after waking up.
Sleep apnea is very common, especially in overweight people, and feeling palpitations after waking up can potentially indicate sleep apnea.
However, a rapid heart rate upon awakening can be a consequence of other causes. On the one hand, palpitations can occur due to a simple change of position during sleep.
Alternatively, they may be the result of sleep changes in an individual's so-called autonomic tone, the 24-hour effort of the nervous system to automatically maintain bodily functions, even while you sleep.