Heart Disease and Sleeping Pills

I have been having problems getting a full night sleep for the last month. I have no problem falling asleep but I wake up around three or four am and cannot go back to sleep. This situation is due to one of my co-workers leaving our department and me having to do their job until their replacement is hired. Then I start to worry about me having another heart attack due to the stress of not sleeping enough.

I have an appointment with my cardiologist later this week to see if I should use sleeping pills for the time being or if it safer for me just to go without a full nights sleep. Has anyone here used or are currently using any sleeping pills? If yes, could you please name the medication and advise your experience with it. Thank you.


Report post

14 replies. Join the discussion

I'm sure every doctor has a different opinion and it may depend on your diagnosis but my doctors have all said Ambien is ok.

Report post

I have the same problem though I thought it was my meds that caused me to wake up at 2:30am-3:30am every night. I have been taking sleeping pills. I took them right after I had my heart attack for anxiety and my doctors didn't have a problem with it. A good nights sleep is important especially when you have a stressful job.

Report post

Just wondering - are you having wine with your dinner by any chance? That wakes me up like clockwork at 2 a.m.



Report post

I have tried 4 of the popular hypnotics on the Rx market.
Ambien made me hung over even at 1/2 dose. I tend to use Sonata with and without .25 mg clonazapam.

Sleep is important to our health.
Sonata (Zaleplon) gives me at least 6 full hours.

Report post

I have not been drinking wine with dinner. That does sound like a good idea..

Report post


I don't like Ambien. People do things they don't even remember doing. They had a story on tv where a guy took his Ambien and hit a parked car on his way to the store. Went back home and back to sleep and didn't even realize till the next day he had hit a car. Scary to me. Also, I feel like a zombie after I take it for about three days.

I too am having problems sleeping. Seems women can't turn off their heads at night.

I take the 0.5 Klonopin and also a natural sleep aid called Melatonin 3mg. It is natural and not suppose to affect our other meds. Talk to your dr. about it. You can buy it at Walmart for about $4.

Let us know how you make out. I too wake up around the same time. Mine is stress and worry as my husband is now on extended UI benefits and we loose COBRA insurance coverage at the end of this week.


Report post

I have been on medication since my surgery in 1998. I have been taking 50 MG of Trazodone and cannot usually fall asleep without it. I have always been a light sleeper ~ especially after having children, but I find it is common to wake up in the middle of the night even with medication.

I do all the things they suggest to sleep well at night and it's very frustrating. If my hubby wakes up for one reason or another, I wake up and often cannot go back to sleep. My doctor doesn't think I have a sleep disorder and suggests it is part of menopause.

All I know is that sleep wasn't as much of an issue until I had surgery and had to go on more medication. My only solution is to go to another room when I feel I need more rest.

Getting enough rest is a real issue for many of us. I don't nap or go to the bedroom until it is time to sleep. I don't drink caffeinated beverages and try to settle down an hour or so before I go to bed.

I will be forever indebted to anyone who comes up with a solution! I don't know about you, but I find it takes me a good hour or so before I can function at any level in the morning. I am fortunate that I can start my day at 10 AM.


Report post

I don't have a real good answer for you but just wanted to say that I have the same problem, but believe it is due to menopause. I have several friends that are in the same situation who don't have heart disease and we all wake up, just wide awake for no apparent reason and it usually lasts a few hours. I take Zyrtec for my allergies and that actually helps me sleep but when I wake up like that, I just go watch tv in the other room until I fall back asleep. It stinks!
Good luck and let us know if you get some relief!

Report post

Dear Sisters,

This is called "early morning awakening" and it is usually caused by depression. My daughter, aged 30, just had a break up with her boyfriend and it's happening to her. No medical problems, and not menopausal. She takes no meds.

I also went through a period of time post HA when I would wake up at 4 AM like clockwork every night and could not get back to sleep. Drove me crazy.

Alcohol has also been known to cause it. It may cause immediate drowsiness, but then causes you to wake back up a few hours later.

I don't know about anyone else, but .5 Xanax knocks me out like a light.

Sleeping pills are not a good thing to take, in general, because they mess with the dream cycle. Whether we remember them, or not, we work through our daily psychological issues during the dream state. It's an essential process of sleep.

If you wake up, you might want to try coming to the computer, read a boring book, turn on the TV, pray, or do some sort of relaxation exercise. Don't even try to "force" yourself back to sleep. If you do something else to get your mind off whatever you are fretting about, generally drowsiness returns fairly quickly.

You might also want to try Chamomile tea. Two cups in the hour, or so, before bedtime. (You can use the same tea bag twice.) Very pleasant and relaxing. I swear, it works.

May the Blessings Be!


Report post

Hi Deb,

It is my personal belief (and numerous research papers) that insomnia or continuing broken bad quality sleep is seriously dangerous to the heart patient. There is so little room for error for women who've already had heart damage. A fairly stable sleep regimen is non-negotiable. Doctors don't yet understand how critical this aspect of quality of life and longevity is to the heart patient at this time.

I've been on Temazepam (Restoril) for a long time. Without that one pill, something is unable to unplug my brain from body. I only drink socially a few times a year, don't want to deal w hangover.....I have no hangover from Temazepam...it gets into deep enough, just long enough sleep for 6-7 hours normally. I was a sleepwalking/talking kid w night terrors so this weirdness has been going on a long time. It is physiological, not stress related.

You seem to have intelligently pinpointed the cause of your sleep problems.....a work situation that is not in your control and causing extreme stress for you. It sounds perfectly logical to both ask your doctor for sleep aids and hit those deeply relaxing home therapies to detox that stress (that has been piled on your back but doesn't belong to you) every single evening. Tub soaks, hot showers, microwavable heated neck wraps, soothing music......whatever is SOOTHING....to ease your wound up nervous system. If you can afford it, an evening massage even once a week can work miracles. I go whenever I realize my back and neck muscles are so tight I can hardly breathe. It is heavenly to relax, rest and let that horrid tension be slowly worked out and away........

Something that works well for me for decades....keep a notepad by the bed and quickly scrawl out all the things on my mind...the good, bad and ugly. Then I list a few things I am grateful for at the moment. Sort of clears my head enough to ease more gently into sleep. On nights I keep popping awake, I scrawl more stuff on the notepad...doesn't matter if it is legible...just helps the psyche to get it out of my head and onto paper.

No side effects from Temazepam for me...I can even rise and move around with no problem if necessary and get back to sleep. Melatonin tabs just gave me a migraine : )

Work stress can absolutely cause slippage into heart attacks...so heart girls need to get clear with themselves that from this point on they are 'surrendering up' stresses imposed on them from external situations. You heart survival is now your JOB....All the other stuff is just 'the jobs that may or may not really need to be done.' Invest as little emotional context to 'jobs' as possible unless they somehow enhance your true JOB...which is YOU. Job tasks can be worked with integrity while saving your finest daily energies for the YOU JOB (smile). When I find myself falling back into that old high stress trap I pull out 'you're too invested in that'...and it whips me right back into true perspective of JOB vs job.

take care,

Report post

In so many pieces, I think everyone has touched on how I have tried to deal with sleepless nights. And, it is for sure an "inside" job meaning internal peace prior to sleep makes for the the most unbroken sleep. The big question is how to get that...and there are many good suggestions.

My only hit on this is again, it really depends upon your specific condition, medication interactions, presence of an ICD implant, diabetis, alcohol challenges etc. If even the dehydration from the alcohol and sugar are minimal, the effects can throw off the sleep.

I take Atavan for my anxiety, it seems to help me sleep when I take it at night it is minimum, and have to choose between day use and night use. I cannot take any over the counter drugs hardly at all, if they elevate the heart beat because it will kick in my arrhythmia and shock.

I am also having nightmares, PTSD driven...sleep is deeper with the Atavan, my fears of course are having a shock in the middle of the night.

That all being said, meditation, and a desire to be calmer in my life, helps me do the things that create it. And, that helps me sleep.

I hope somewhere within all these posts, you got some answers that work for you, there is a lot of good experience here. I learned a lot also.


Report post

I take 1 mg of Xanax every night and sleep like a baby.

Report post


I was waking up every night at 3:30 am, I hate medications and have enough on my list daily since my 4x bypass last Dec. 08 ---- I use meditation videos from you tube --- I know cracks me up too... however it has worked and for some reason I feel very rested in the am.... also as hard as it is sometimes - I try not to nap at all --- if needed no more than a 30 min rest..

I was back at work 30 days after surgery and just visited the cardiologist last week - doing great.

I did push myself after the event but for me I knew it was the only way I was going to beat the situation.

ps. angel meditation videos are the ones I used.

Take Care

Report post

Thank you to everyone that responded. My Dr had me try Melatonin 3 mg for a few days but it didn't make a difference. Last night I took my 1st Xanax .25 mg and was able to sleep through the night. It's hard to believe that before my HA I wouldn't even take an aspirin. If someone came into my home and saw my box full of medication they would think I was a drug addict. I will check youtube out for the meditation videos.


Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Things you can do

Support WomenHeart

Help WomenHeart reach its goals and support people like yourself by making a donation today.

Donate to  WomenHeart

Discussion topics

Heart health links and resources

The SCAD Ladies Stand Up -- Read the special report

Community leaders


The information provided by this online support network through WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and Inspire is for general informational purposes only. The information is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you are ill, or suspect that you are ill, see a doctor immediately. In an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease never recommends or endorses any specific physicians, products or treatments for any condition.