Chest Pain at Night While Sleeping

Chest Pain & Heart Attack

Jun 2, 2023


If you’re experiencing chest pain at night while sleeping, there is a possibility that you could be dealing with some underlying health issues that need to be addressed. Chest pain, whether you feel it at night or during the day, is not an issue that should go unchecked, especially if it is a common occurrence.  

The medical professionals at Complete Care are here to discuss the common causes of chest pain at night and advise on what you can do to diminish the uncomfortable sensations while you sleep.

Why does chest pain wake me up at night? 

Waking up with an uncomfortable feeling or even a burning sensation in your chest can be extremely unpleasant and is rightfully an object of concern. A minor case of chest pain at night while sleeping might be chalked up to gastrointestinal issues in the form of heartburn as a result of something you ate the night before — or it could be something more serious. 

However, if you’re waking up in the middle of the night with a tight chest often, and you can’t connect it to possible acid reflux, it may be a good idea to get a medical examination.  

Common causes of chest pain at night

The most typical reasons for chest pain that occur while you are asleep include:

1. Angina

What is angina? Angina pectoris is a condition in which the coronary arteries, which carry blood and oxygen to the heart muscles, become constricted or narrowed. This causes damage to the heart muscle, which forces the heart to work harder, even while you are asleep.

Angina can be the result of coronary heart disease, lifestyle choices that weaken the heart, age, and even genetics. There are procedures and medications that can help you to manage angina and its painful effects. So, if you’re diagnosed with angina, speak to your doctor to figure out which treatment option is best for you.

For more information about heart health, visit our article: What are the signs of an unhealthy heart?

2. Acid reflux

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid backflows into the esophagus, resulting in a burning sensation in the chest. While acid reflux is typically not a medical emergency, you should seek medical help if your chest pain lasts for more than a couple of days. 

Conditions like acid reflux tend to exacerbate when you’re not in an upright position, meaning it’s common to feel chest pressure when lying down if you have this condition.

To help combat chest pain caused by acid reflux, try to avoid eating or drinking alcohol before bed and avoid spicy foods. Additionally, studies have shown that sleeping on your left side is the best position to combat exposure of the esophagus to stomach acid. 

3. Chest injury

If the muscles and bones of your chest wall have been strained or injured in some way, any type of movement of your torso can cause pain. As a result, you may experience chest pain at night while sleeping, particularly if you frequently change positions or fall asleep on your chest.

If you are aware that you have an injury to your chest wall, seek medical attention to figure out what treatment options are available to you. 

4. Respiratory issues 


Severe chest pain is one of many hypertensive emergency symptoms and is usually a sign that your blood pressure has skyrocketed to a dangerous level. If you currently have high blood pressure or have a family history of high blood pressure, this could be the reason that you are experiencing chest pain at night. 

Depending on your symptoms and circumstances, check your blood pressure if you are feeling a tightness in your chest. There is a chance that you could be experiencing a hypertensive emergency and will need to seek medical attention ASAP to prevent further or permanent heart damage.


If you feel pain in the left or right areas of the chest, it’s possible that you could be experiencing pleurisy, an inflammation of the thin layers that cover your lungs. The most typical symptom of pleurisy is the feeling of sharp pain in the chest when you breathe deeply. In some cases, pleurisy can cause fluid to build up around the lungs which may need to be medically drained to prevent further breathing complications. 

To reduce the feeling of chest pain at night, avoid sleeping flat on your back and lying on the side where you feel the pain. For example, if your pain is felt in the left side of your chest, try sleeping on your left side. 

Treatments for chest pain at night

Now that we’ve discussed the potential causes of chest pain at night, you may be wondering, “How do I stop my chest from hurting when I sleep?” If you are experiencing any of the conditions listed above, each has its own treatment plan, some more minor than others. In order to know how to get rid of chest pain, you need to know what condition you are dealing with. Speak with your doctor about your symptoms if you do not currently have a diagnosis — or if you do, ask what can be done to manage your nighttime chest tightness. 

There are some instances where you should visit the ER for chest pain, specifically if you exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Severe and intense chest pain (a sharp, stabbing pain)
  • Sudden nausea
  • Cold sweats
  • Shortness of breath that worsens when lying down 
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • Abnormal heartbeats

These are the symptoms of a heart attack which can be fatal if not treated promptly. If you or a loved one are showing any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. 

Chest pain at night while sleeping? Complete Care can take care of it.

It can be difficult to distinguish which ailment is causing your chest pain at night while sleeping, which is why it is important to note any other symptoms you may have with it. If you are aware of your medical history, it will make it easier for you and your doctor to pinpoint what is causing the pain and can give you better clarity if the chest pain persists. It’s crucial to have a medical professional that you can turn to for help, even in the late hours of the night.

Complete Care is a freestanding emergency room that is open all day and all night, seven days a week. If you wake up with chest pain in the middle of the night and need assistance, our staff is here to treat you. 

Our locations are all over Texas (Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Fort Worth, East Texas, Lubbock, and San Antonio) and in Colorado Springs. We’ve got you, no matter what.

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