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Sleep Exercise and Heart Attacks

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 05/22/2024

Sleep, Exercise, and Heart Attacks

Dr. Eric Berg

Today, I want to answer a question I received on my website about the dangers of cardiovascular problems if you’re exercising and not sleeping.

Chest pain

The answer to that question relates to chapter 14 of my book, The 7 Principles for Fat Burning where I talk about exercising for your body type.

There are two aspects to this answer—how you’re sleeping and the intensity of the exercise you do.

First, I want to address one problem in our thinking regarding exercise and the heart. If you ask anyone if exercise is good for the heart, they’re going to say, “Oh yes, it decreases the risks of heart attack.”

But here’s the thing, if you combine high intensity exercise or long distance type exercise with insomnia or sleep apnea, you are going to dramatically spike your risk for heart attacks.

Why? This is because when you’re not sleeping, the cardiovascular system is at its worst.  If you’ve ever looked at a graph of a heart, when you’re tired, it’s very, very weak.

Sleeping heals and improves cardiovascular function at night, and the heart needs this healing sleep—it has to stay beating and performing all kinds of important functions throughout the day. It needs healing sleep.

So when you’re not sleeping, your heart is under constant stress and never gets a chance to heal. If you add another layer of stress on top of this, such as intense exercise, your risk for a heart attack will spike like crazy.

So, here’s what you need to do:

Use this principle in my book to adjust your workouts based on your energy level and on your sleep.

So, if you are sleeping well and you have a lot of energy, then go for it. Do a high intensity type of workout.

If you’re not sleeping, the only exercise you should do is yoga, walking, or Pilates... nothing high in intensity, or you would be putting your heart at risk.


I see these people in the gym at four o’clock in the morning trying desperately to lose weight, and they haven’t slept, yet they’re pushing themselves so hard, trying to burn up these calories.

First, they’re not going to lose weight this way—weight loss, too, requires healing sleep. Secondly, they’re going to create a lot of chest problems.

Left shoulder pain

The symptoms of a heart problem are pain or issues in the upper right back, in the mid-back, or on the left shoulder.

Plus, having a tired heart will prevent you from sleeping well, too.

It’s a lose-lose situation.

So, the ultimate point is, you must fix the sleep.

You can try my Adrenal Night Formula, or you can try other sleep type of remedies. However, make sure they don’t have melatonin in them and make sure they’re natural.

You can also use the acupressure techniques on those pressure points on the back of the neck I’ve discussed in other videos using the massage tool—but never ever do high intensity exercise of any kind when you haven’t slept.

Thank you, and take care of your heart!

Understand the importance of sleeping in exercising and see more Sleep Advice from Dr. Berg Video Blog.

Please post any comments or questions below. I’d love to hear from you!

Dr. Eric Berg

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