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rapid short breaths during sleep
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rapid short breaths during sleep

Hi everyone I hope someone can help solve this problem I am having thanks in advance for your help.

I am 43  5.4 feet tall and 135 lbs. I do not smoke .  I have been having strange dream sequences where I am breathing real fast and shallow and wake only to realize its really happening to me at that moment.   I snore occasionally maybe once a week my husband tells me but I turn over and then I stop.  In my dream I am just laying there in my bed breathing real fast and seem to be at a hospital or something.. Im not doing any thing other than trying to sleep in my dreams if you catch my drift.   O
   Some mornings I wake up and my husband tells me that I had one of my episodes that night but I dont have any recollection of it and I dont remember waking up during the night .
   I have never had a sleep study done and dont seem to se sleep deprived at least not right now.   Any thoughts?? Thanks in advance for your help.
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Your description of rapid, shallow breathing suggests that you may well have a sleep disorder, as the spectrum of sleep disorders is wide and may not always include clinically evident sleep deprivation.

I suggest that you first  consider anything you may be ingesting, including food, alcohol or medication including herbal meds as any of these could be a cause of disturbed sleep.  I gather that you don’t have this experience every night and so it might not occur on the night of the study.  However, even when not having symptoms, a sleep study might be abnormal.  The best advice is that you consult with a physician Specialist in Sleep Disorders, who would be the best person able to decide on the need/benefit of such a study.

Good luck
4 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
My father had the same symptoms before he was hospitalized because he couldn't breathe.  He was first misdiagnosed with heart problems, but had a crisis and died after a week of intubation - he really had ARDS, acute respiratory distress syndrome, where an infection of some kind, like sepsis, overwhelms the immune system and the cells start shedding water into the lungs.  The water isn't noticed at first until it is far enough along to block breathing - which is worse when standing than when lying down.  The doctors missed the water in his lungs, though my sister heard gurgles from there before his crisis.  Hopefully this is not your problem but a good friend died of this a few years ago - perfectly healthy, slim, got lots of exercise, didn't feel good one night and the next morning she couldn't breathe and was gone before she reached the hospital.  Good luck!!
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612551_tn?1247839157
I have dream problems every night, and suffer from nasal congestion.  When congested and lying down, asleep or not, I get the panic feeling I am suffocating.  I can breath through my mouth, so I'm not about to suffocate. The dry mouth problem I have when sleeping is proof I am breathing through my mouth.  I have trouble mares (I call them) but none are about breathing.

I have a prescription nose spray but find the over-the-counter 12 HR spray that isn't supposed to be used on a regular basis works the best.  But the dreams go on.

I have considered a sleep study, but have taken no action beyond mentioning it to my cardiologist and primary care, neither was inclined to recommend I have a sleep study...guess that's my call.
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Avatar_m_tn
This is a miserable and frightening experience. Do you experience any thing else during sleep like sweating, increase in amounts of bladed contents during the ‘sleep,’ skin eruptions, confusion, in addition to the nightmares? Have you ever had anesthesia? Could you breathe easily upon awakening?

I’m in agreement with the physician’s comment, and definitely review any medications you are taking, as well as past childhood infections, including the enteroviruses if you had any, or trauma.

"Sleep Disorders,” an enormous field, so until you have your respiratory status evaluated, there is little use in a sleep study, etc. Sadly, sleep studies often lead to the administration of  oxygen, wrongly, when in fact, the problem may be one of CO2 build-up due to positioning, chemicals, weight, status of the diaphragm and other muscles, etc.  A state-board licensed respiratory therapist is a great help if you know one, or can contact AARC.

What you describe has been commonly and erroneously referred to as 'sleep paralysis,' in fact, spouses often term the events as "one of your episodes." One question - if you are awakened by someone during these "episodes," does it stop? Can you breathe better when awake? If so, you may have a condition in which you are building up CO2. That creates wild dreams, short, shallow breaths, etc. This is not uncommon in polio survivors, often mis-diagnosed they are given oxygen or put on a C-pap instead of a volume ventilator. Hypercapnia is the build-up of CO2 and may be simply addressed by someone experienced in neuromuscular conditions. When we sleep, or are sedated, the intercostal muscles don’t do much for us, only the diaphragm, a huge muscle. So if that is impaired in any way, it cannot expel CO2 sufficiently.

Finding a respiratory specialist who is aware of neuromuscular conditions is a chore, at best. But contacting a medical school in your region and asking for a referral for a complete respiratory evaluation may help, and the AARC in Texas (American Association of Respiratory Care). The Muscular Dystrophy Association knows who the doctors are who specialize in neuromuscular breathing conditions, and John R. Bach MD in Newark is the world's finest.
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