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I wake up gasping for air...
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I wake up gasping for air...

Hello Dr. my question is, for about 2 years now, at least once a month (if not more) I will be sleeping (I seem to be sleeping ok) and I will wake up gasping for air feeling like the air has been sucked right out of me. Sometimes I start coughing. And when I'm done coughing I will go back to sleep and it to happen again and I will get tired of waking up this way so I will just get up then. My nose is not plugged up, I dont have a cold or I'm not sick. So what could this be.???  After it has happened, at times I find myself a little scared to go back to sleep for fear I am forgetting to breath. I dont know if this could really happen but thank-you for your time. Have a great day. *Deann*
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
It sounds like you're having an obstructive episode. It usually happens more when you're on your back, but it can also happen on your side as well. If you happened to stop breathing for 10 seconds or more and then wake up, then that's called an apnea. Many people will stop breathing for a few seconds only and then wake up, gasping for air and feel a state of panic. Some people will get misdiagnosed as having an anxiety disorder and placed on medications. Most, but not all will be very tired during the day.

Try these conservative options first: Don't eat anything or drink alcohol for at least 3-4 hours before bedtime. Exercise regularly, especially outdoors, if possible. Learn proper deep breathing exercises and do it for 5-10 minutes before bedtime, as well as for 1-2 minutes every few hours during the day. Dr. Andrew Weil has a great CD that teaches you how to do this. Try to avoid sleeping on your back. There are various gadgets and devices to help you do this.

If these steps don't work, you may want to consider seeing a sleep specialist.
3 Comments
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Take a look at my article on anxiety and sleep position. The article on upper airway resistance syndrome may be helpful too,
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Avatar_f_tn
I dont smoke or drink. I have IC (Interstitial Cystitis) and it makes it hard for me to exercise because my bladder seems to hurt ALL the time,  And yes I told my  Dr about it and he told me I was having panic attacks and not to worry. But he did not put me on meds for it. But it happens on my side because I cant sleep on my back, it hurts to bad. I sleep on my right side 80% of the time. Or I prop myself up with 3 or 4 pillows and sit up and sleep that way. Thank-you for answering me so quick. You have a wonderful day. *Deann*  PS I will look into the CD. Again thank-you  :o)
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Avatar_f_tn
my daughter is 10 and she has been diagnosed with whooping cough, she never really had any cough with it , she could play all day and not cough and when its time to go to sleep she will wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air. Is that a part of the whooping cough , it is only once she does this and she just goes back to sleep . Doctor says her lungs are fine . Im a little worried cause this is not normal. Peter :-)
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