Angina and Sleep

What is angina?

Heart attack is a term that most of us have heard of. Healthcare providers and physicians often refer to it as Myocardial Infarction or cardiac arrest. Unlike the common thought, heart attack and angina are not the same. A heart attack happens as a result of the instantaneous blockage of blood supply to the heart due to blood clots, While angina refers to chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscle (also known as cardiac muscle). Angina causes temporary chest pain that is usually alleviated by rest or medication, in contrast to a heart attack that may cause permanent damage to the heart muscle. Angina can feel like a heavy throbbing/squeezing pain in the chest and can indicate a risk of a heart attack.1 Angina has many causes and can be correlated with many other conditions but in this article, we will focus on the relationship between Angina and Sleep. 

Sleep and heart health

Lack of sleep can have serious effects on our bodies. The CDC states that adults who sleep less than 7 hours a day are more likely to report that they have issues such as heart attack, asthma, and depression.2 Diving deeper into the relationship between sleep and heart health, a literature review that analyzed the research evidence looking into the correlation between sleep deprivation and heart health, stated that sleep deprivation is linked with Hypertension, Coronary Heart Disease, and Diabetes.3 This is further explained by the findings of research which concluded that those who slept less than six hours every night had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack compared to those who do.4 Furthermore, another research suggests that a lack of 7 hours of sleep every night could also cause obesity as it may impact a section of the brain that controls hunger sensations. 

Can lack of sleep cause angina?

The direct answer would be no. However, experts suggest that a sudden interruption in your sleep at night can lead to a spontaneous rise in your blood pressure and heart rate and this can cause angina-based chest pain.5

What is the best sleeping position for heart health?

This might be a surprising point for some of you (including myself) but sleeping positions can actually impact various aspects of your health, including that of your heart. W. Christopher Winter, MD, medical director of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, spoke to CNN on the best sleeping positions: She advises that sleeping on the left side could help to increase blood circulation to the heart. This is in contrast to sleeping on the right side, which can hamper the blood flow back to the heart, and hence sleeping on the left essentially helps the heart function as a better blood pumper. She also asserts that sleeping on the left would be beneficial to pregnant women.6

However, there are also draws to sleeping on any side that comes with its downsides. Michael Breus, Ph.D., who is also a board-certified sleep specialist, explains that sleeping on one side may cause pins and needles feeling on the impacted body part and make it numb, due to the pressure exerted on the relevant blood vessels. In addition, this type of sleeping can also increase acid reflux and heartburn at night.6

When to contact a doctor

It is possible that you may have a sleep disorder, but you are unaware. Some common sleep illnesses include:

Insomnia – this is probably the most common one and entails the inability to sleep at night or otherwise.4

  • Sleep Apnea – This occurs when your breathing is intermittent (meaning it stops and starts continually) during your sleep. One common symptom of this is frequent snoring.7
  • Restless Leg Syndrome – An uncomfortable ‘creeping’ feeling in the leg that renders you unable to fall asleep and is usually relieved by leg movements (such as walking or kicking).8
  • Narcolepsy – A feeling of uncontrollable and excessive daytime sleepiness combined with sudden weakness in the muscles.8

If you feel that you might be having any of these symptoms, it would be best to contact your healthcare provider immediately. Fixing and improving your sleep health will ensure that you maintain better general health and keep your heart healthy.


To summarize everything that we have gone through in the article, sleeping is very pertinent in maintaining the effective functioning of your heart. While sleeping may not directly contribute to heart diseases or angina, sleep deprivation can lead to conditions that will impact the heart negatively. If you show any symptoms of sleep disorders, it is advised to get yourself checked by your healthcare provider to rule out any potential issues.


  1. What is angina | Heart Foundation [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 21]. Available from:
  2. CDC - Key Sleep Disorders - Sleep and Sleep Disorders [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2022 Sep 21]. Available from:
  3. Nagai M, Hoshide S, Kario K. Sleep duration as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease- a review of the recent literature. Curr Cardiol Rev [Internet]. 2010 Feb [cited 2022 Sep 21];6(1):54–61. Available from:
  4. The dangers of sleep deprivation [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 21]. Available from:
  5. How sleep deprivation affects your heart [Internet]. Sleep Foundation. 2020 [cited 2022 Sep 21]. Available from:
  6. Domonell,DailyBurn K. What sleeping position is best for you? [Internet]. CNN. 2016 [cited 2022 Sep 9]. Available from:
  7. NHS Choices. Sleep apnoea [Internet]. NHS. 2019 [cited 2022 Sep 21]. Available from:
  8. CDC - Key Sleep Disorders - Sleep and Sleep Disorders [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2022 Sep 21]. Available from:

Punyaslok Mishra Mishra

MB BCh BAO - Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland

Punyaslok is an emerging medical professional from Queen's University Belfast with a specialization in Medicine. He has showcased leadership as the President of the Asian Medical Students’ Association in Northern Ireland since August 2022. Besides, he contributes as a Peer Mentor and has recently undertaken a vital role as a Medical Writer Intern at Klarity, where he pens insightful articles for a health library, discussing topics from angina to the enzymes in papaya. Notably, Punyaslok's research on the potential of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in treating Anthracycline Induced Cardiomyopathy is affiliated with Queen's University, signifying his deep interest in advancing therapeutic measures in the medical realm.

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