It’s an understatement to say that losing someone close to me has been difficult. The guilt, the pain of missing them, and the fear of never having them in my life again has weighed heavily on my shoulders. I haven’t been able to cope with these feelings and it affected my physical health as well; insomnia reigned supreme, I had no appetite, anxiety attacks became a regular thing, panic would hit me like a truck all of a sudden, and this, in turn, triggered my SVT with episodes on a daily basis along with skips in my heartbeat and an elevated heart rate even at rest.
A Journal Entry from a Year Ago:
“It’s 3 a.m. and my heart is racing. Again. I lay in bed, trying to will it to slow down, but it feels like all the blood in my body is pulsing through my chest. I close my eyes and try to breathe deeply, but it doesn’t help. I know I won’t be able to get back to sleep now. I’ll just lay here, wide awake, until the morning. My heart feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest and I can’t seem to catch my breath. Every time this happens, I get really anxious.”
Waking up in the middle of the night with an accelerated heart rate is a feeling I know all too well. It starts with a palpitation, like a thud in my chest that immediately wakes me from my sleep.
My heart begins to race, pounding against my rib cage as I anxiously try to focus on something else. It’s impossible to drift back into sleep as long as these uncomfortable sensations are present and so I lay there for hours until the feeling finally subsides.
For those who don’t have time to explore the narrative, here’s a rapid summary of my symptoms:
- palpitations that woke me up in the middle of the night
- internal tremor
- skipped heart beats due to lack of sleep
- digestive issues bloating, nausea
- panic attacks
- SVTs at night
- increased awareness of my heart beats
- lack of appetite and inability to digest food (gut dysbiosis)
- stomach pain
- skipped heart beats triggered by movement
- irritated heart
Nocturnal Palpitations Due to Increased Stress
January 2022 was a very difficult month for me and my family.
I found myself struggling and having to be strong for those around me, all while dealing with my own distress and trying to come to terms with my loss.
While grieving, my already existing tachycardia symptoms had become even worse; recurring palpitations at night disrupted my sleep, resulting in insomnia.
I began experiencing panic attacks and general anxiety levels rose. This was accompanied by digestive issues that caused dramatic weight-loss. I simply couldn’t eat or sleep.
After weeks of stomach pain, I went to a naturopath consultation in search of relief. Fortunately her treatment was successful.
After six weeks of following her tailored treatment plan for dysbiosis, the pain had drastically decreased and I finally felt like myself again – able to venture beyond just bananas, peanut butter and polenta on my plate!
However, getting a good night’s sleep was becoming more and more difficult.
SVT Symptoms Due to Sleep Depravation
Sometimes when I tried to fall asleep, I could feel a strange sensation throughout my body, like tiny ripples of electricity running up and down my spine.
As moments passed, the feeling grew more intense until eventually my heart started pounding at an uncomfortably fast rhythm. All this usually culminated in an episode of supraventricular tachycardia.
Other times I had certain discomforts from eating before going to bed. I began having excessive bloating feeling like my stomach was filled with air and strange sensations such as palpitations in my chest.
Another symptom experienced was a strange sensation in my stomach which is difficult to describe.
Suddenly I started to feel a warmth rising from my stomach. Before I knew it, my heart was in overdrive, racing faster and faster.
I couldn’t seem to control it as my chest tightened and a sense of fear consumed me. Heartbeats could be felt in locations all over my body – my neck, back and legs.
When I discovered the link between digestive issues and SVT
Experiencing palpitations rising up from my stomach to my chest was an odd sensation; however, what I found even more peculiar was the fact that these palpitations did not result in any changes in my heart rate.
One night as the sensations of palpitations began to rise, I grabbed my oximeter to take a reading – and to my surprise, it registered under 70 beats per minute!
On several other occasions at night, my oximeter had indicated a heart rate of under 70 beats per minute coupled with these frequent palpitations.
I was baffled as to what could be causing this phenomenon but eventually came to the realization that it had nothing to do with my heart at all. Those strange pounding sensations were coming from somewhere else entirely!
Documenting my symptoms has been extremely valuable in helping me understand my SVTs and skipped beats.
I tracked my mood, physical and emotional sensations, what I ate and when, anything that seemed relevant to figuring out my condition.
After a while of this habit, a pattern slowly emerged – it seemed as though every time I ate something, an hour or so later I would feel a wave of heat radiating from my stomach followed by skipped heartbeats, increased heart rate or SVT.
I was sure that my gut issues were somehow irritating the heart, most likely through the vagus nerve.
Even More SVT Symptoms Due to Insomnia
Insomnia was already impacting my health in many ways, but the physical symptoms I started experiencing due to severe sleep deprivation became even more concerning.
Frequent episodes of supraventricular tachycardia (svt), once a rarity, soon began affecting me more than I could have imagined.
My heart felt like it was constantly in danger, becoming sensitive to even the slightest movements; something as simple as walking briskly, bending over or stretching my arms caused my heart to race.
Absolutely any action or activity was enough to spark an episode of svt. Even completing seemingly mundane tasks such as sitting at my desk and leaning forward became part of a daily battle with heart palpitations.
It seemed like the possibilities for triggering an episode were endless and the struggle grew worse each day without sufficient restful sleep.
A Little Bit of Relief
Having palpitations at night made it difficult for me to sleep at all until 3-4 in the morning.
After noticing that this condition seemed to worsen when I was laying flat in bed, I decided to raise my sleeping position in hopes of alleviating some of the discomfort.
To do this, I stacked three pillows on top of each other so that I was slightly elevated as I slept.
This trick seemed to help a bit, allowing me to sleep a bit more soundly and with less fear of having a palpitations-induced episode. But still it wasn’t a solution to my problem.
The “Miracle” Food for My Heart
After weeks of searching for a remedy, I stumbled upon an article about Kefir being referred to as a “miracle food”. So, on a particularly bad morning when my pulse was so high that I couldn’t even get out of bed, I decided to give it a try.
After drinking 100 ml of kefir, I was feeling much better in less than an hour—it was nothing short of a miracle.
I took another 100ml in the afternoon and evening.
To my surprise, that day I did not experience any ectopics! Over the next two months I kept up this regime and can now say with confidence that the palpitations are barely noticeable and my heart is not irritated any more.
80% of my problems simply disappeared as soon as I began drinking it! All of a sudden I felt free – free to walk, exercise, stretch and even lean forward at my desk without fear of a skipped heart beat or SVT. It was an incredible feeling and kefir is now staples in my diet!
Every aspect of our overall health and wellness seems to be intertwined in ways I never would have thought possible.
For instance, it makes sense that what I eat can impact my brain and heart – something we’ve all heard of before – but it is truly remarkable the degree to which this can be true.
Even the level of stress and how I think can influence those same two organs. We are of incredible complexity.
While kefir may have had profound effects on my palpitations, it’s important not to take this as a miracle cure for your condition. Like so many things in life, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health – our bodies are unique and so sometimes what worked for me may not work for you. While it may aide some individuals with certain underlying conditions, it can cause gut issues if the root of your underlying digestive problems aren’t addressed first. Since we all have different bodies and ways of dealing with various discomforts, make sure to get professional medical help to diagnose the source of your condition.
After months of struggling with my nocturnal palpitations I finally felt like I was getting a handle on the situation.
To take it one step further and make sure nothing else was going on, I decided to take a microbiome test.
Knowing that my gut health directly affected my overall heart health only further led me in that direction.
Nothing ever has been or ever will be solved by ignorance, so researching and gaining understanding is a great path towards wellness.
In my upcoming article, I will be revealing the fascinating results of my microbiome test and exploring what they mean for me.