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Heart or breathing stops during sleep?
I am having a problem where my heart or breathing stops after I've fallen asleep, and I wake up panicking.  I've tried to include as many details as possible.

I first experienced this on a business trip.  I went to China for the first time in February, 15 hour plane ride and 12 hours time difference.  I took 5 or 6 Dramamine during the trip so that I wouldn't get sick and slept the whole way.  So after arriving, I felt on schedule; I fell asleep at night and woke up in the morning.  But in the evening, I would get this "weak" feeling in my chest, similar to what I feel when I have bouts of heart palpitations.  It felt as if my heart was slowing down or skipping more often the more I fell asleep, and then after I fully fell asleep, I started waking up in the middle of the night feeling as though my heart had stopped, and was pretty terrified.  I think I had panic attacks right after I woke up, which I have never had before.  I think I had one during dinner one day, too.  I felt as though I could not let myself fall asleep or I would never wake up again, and so I would jerk myself awake all the time (like trying to not to fall asleep in an early morning class in college).

They took me to the Chinese hospital, which did an EKG and a blood test, and said I'm fine, though I don't know how far to trust them.  (And of course my heart never skips while someone is watching it.  Only when no one is around.)  I have had EKGs in the past to look at the heart palpitations, and they didn't show anything, either.  (I have been getting palpitations for a few years, either a "skipped beat" while beginning to exhale or a fast heavy beat that feels like THUMPTHUMPTHUMP instead of THU-thump .. THU-thump .. THU-thump.) My brother gets premature ventricular contractions, so I wouldn't be surprised if I do, too.  They gave me Chinese xanax, anti-psychotic, antibiotics, and ginseng.  The anti-psychotic helped to relax me.  I tried to go to sleep early that night, but woke up suddenly again and was in a trembly panic state, so I took the pink pill, and warm calmness washed through my body, but it made me feel drugged and strange and I only took it once.  The Chinese xanax seemed to help, so we thought maybe it was just stress, but the same thing happened while recovering from jet lag at home, too, when I was not stressed.  My mother's doctor said that sometimes people get sleep apnea from the pollution in China, but it's been happening since I got back, too.  While riding in the limo home, I would doze off and be woken by the tingling sensation in my hands.

Since then, it has been happening more and more often, though, just at home.  I am not sure if it is my heart that has problems or if it is my breathing, since I am fast asleep when it happens.  Sometimes I wake up and feel as though my body has "forgotten" to inhale, and I breathe in deeply a lot in a panic to try to counteract it.  Other times I am woken up by my heart fluttering or skipping, though maybe this is caused by the lack of breathing?  I don't know much about medicine, but my impression is that my body's normal system for regulating breathing has stopped, I breathe out and it never tells my lungs to breathe in again, and then my body parts panic from the lack of oxygen and wake me up with some kind of chemical signal since the normal nervous system paths aren't working correctly.  I feel a strange emptiness or numbness in my left hand and right foot, kind of like pins and needles from poor circulation, but not really.  It still feels strange half an hour after I woke up.  I went to bed around 1 AM, probably fell asleep around 1:30 AM, and then woke up suddenly around 3 AM.  If I intentionally breathe out and never breathe back in again ("hold my breath out"), I get the normal reflex of feeling a need to breathe in, so I don't know how this could actually happen during sleep.

I am 26, 6 feet tall, 155 lb.  This is certainly not the kind of apnea where your throat gets blocked.  I don't smoke, don't drink caffeine, don't do drugs, and drink alcohol rarely.  My heart rate an hour after I woke up suddenly (4 AM) is 72 beats per minute.  I don't really feel lightheaded when I wake up.  I often have anxiety of various forms.  I do spend the majority of my time on the Internet on a laptop, probably with poor posture, bending my neck at odd angles (is there ANY good posture for laptop use?  probably not.)  I try to exercise, but only do a little.  Running on an elliptical for half an hour maybe once a week, lifting small weights and doing sit ups maybe twice a week.

It seems to happen more often if I go to bed late and if I don't eat enough dinner (bad habit from procrastination, I sometimes ignore it, go to bed hungry, and eat more in the morning so that I don't have digestion problems while sleeping).

I know I should see a doctor about this, but I apparently have some kind of doctor phobia.  I went to the doctor just last week about a puncture wound in my toe, and fully intended to ask about the sleep problem during the same visit, but chickened out while sitting in his office.  I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't want to die in my sleep.
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Google spell-corrects it to "dysautonomia".
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I am not able to help you with your anxieties, but I can continue to encourage you to see a sleep specialist and get a sleep study. If you need to, take someone with you to your appointments.
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i have the exact same thing EXACTLY, and they think we r crazy lol
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I went through 6 years of horrible migraines, hair falling out, horrible nightmares when I could sleep, insomnia, awful sense of doom and huge adrenline surges that did wake me up.  I'd have horrible feelings of doom and would pass out alot, mostly when I was sitting, or hot, or under alot of stress.  Chest pain always followed the fainting. Many MD and ER visits, EKGS that were deemed not significant, a treadmill that wasn't "significant either" and of course they all thought i was crazy.  did the Xanax and antidepressant thing.  Had low BP, low pulse and was told I had the heart of an athelete for years.  I walked 1 hour a day about 5 days a week.  During a run one day I collapsed.  Went to ER was almost ready to be discharged and dismissed (again) when another nurses aide took my pulse, called a new nurse and they called a cardiologist.  Turned out I had Sick Sinus Syndrome, Orthostatic Intolerance (Dysautonomia) and Orthostatic Hypotension.  I was 44 years old.  Ended up with a pacemaker and have had to make some life changes.  I do still throw PVCs and PACs a couple of times when exercising and about 3 short SVT episodes since it was implanted 2 years ago, but life is so different., so much better now.  Your stories sound so familir, so please don't give up, find an "electrician" cardiologist who can look into other causes for you.  If you are in the California call Dr. Christopher Oh at Central Coast Cardiology in Monterey, CA  to see if he will talk to you.  Hang in there, God bless you!!!!!!!!
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I forgot to add, other wierd symptoms or problems I had with the disorders were problems "sipping" soup or drinking through a straw, fainting while drinking ice water, bowel problems/IBS for  years.  When I'd have the horrible nightmares, I'd wake up with a huge gasp and sit straight up and scare my husband.  My resting Heart Rate would average 45 BPM but when my disorders were finally caught in the ER it was between 35-43 and my head had to be elevated and they would't let me sleep until the pacemaker implant.  I was not an ironman athelete so pulling off a 45 BPM pulse was NOT normal as many docs had told me before.  My cardio doc said it was the adrenaline kicking in to save myself.  Dysautonomia is a strange disorder.  With the pacemaker implant for the sick sinus syndrome all of those symptoms eventually disappeared.  With your young age as with mine at the time,i was told that is why I was dismissed by all the MDs and ER docs for not thinking there was something wrong with me.  Plus I was female.  
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Wow! I've been experiencing the exact same symptoms as Dun Dun...  I'm 32 and I've been having this for a couple of years now... on and off... it's the most messed up feeling in the world... waking up with the feeling that your heart's stopped and you can't breathe...

I've changed my diet thinking it's GERD... but this condition is totally random...  Sometimes I'll eat heavy food in the night and have  a blissful night's sleep... Other times a heavy meal in the night means not being able to sleep through the night...

I do sit in a posture which is not good... but can bad posture really lead to such an extreme condition (dysautonomia) ??? I can't believe it... :S

The days when I can sleep without this happening, I tend to oversleep because who knows when I'll get a peaceful sleep again...

The doctors look at me like I've gone mad... Sure stress might play a part in it... but doesn't stress just affect just about everything? This is much more specific... and seriously one of the worst feelings in the world...

Has taking the Potassium supplements helped?
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"but can bad posture really lead to such an extreme condition"

I don't know.  But I do know, for a fact, that when I recline in certain positions my heart will start to skip beats.  I don't know if it's pressure on nerves, or changes in blood pressure, or affects on regulatory systems, or what, but after I panic and change my position, it goes back to a normal heartbeat.  It's like lying on my side with my head twisted a little, I'm not sure how to describe it.
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1277440 tn?1271080231
Dont completely rule out anxiety disorder will you cause that causes lack of sleep, heart palpitations, skipped heart beats and panic attacks. It definately sounds like you have sleep apnea but it also sounds like you have an anxiety disorder which causes the palpitations. When i get stressed a lot a month later i will get palpitations and pain in chest. Make sure you get a full blood count too just to check your balance of body functions.
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I too have been getting the same problems as you,i have over the last two and a half years had attacks of svt,vtac vfib and others,but now i have the sleeping problems some nights are fine then others i wake up several times sometime with a v/fast heart rate others normal? I do get the feeling that my heart/breathing has stopped and my body will jerk me awake like a last ditch effort to keep me alive,may sound over the top but that is how it feels.I have had this for about 5 months hopeing it will go away,but i think now is the time to get a sleep study. Will post my results when i get them....good luck.
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432097 tn?1318552340
Don't let this doctor be your final answer.  I have the exact same problem and they have done an echocardiogram, a stress test, all kinds of heart related tests and said that I have a "stiff" heart, which is basically that it doesn't go into the "relax" stage for long enough.

Also, I'm on another forum here about endocrinology problems, and there are horror stories about people (including myself) who have doctor hopped for years trying to get a diagnosis, but you can't stop.  Doctors just don't take the time anymore, and they don't want to do the expensive testing because of the medical cuts, etc.  You have to be your own advocate.

When I go into a doctors office now, I have an entire notebook of my research from reputable places like the Mayo Clinic or the Endocrinology Foundation and demand they answer my questions.  If they don't, I leave and find another doctor.

You can have anxiety and sleep apnea, but remember that sleep apnea causes a fear of falling asleep and you will wake up with a start as your body knows your not getting enough oxygen.  A simple home test can rule this out.  My doctor had an oxygen tank sent to my home, and a pulse ox meter sent over.  I wore the pulse ox (the thing they put on your finger to measure your oxygen when you go to the doctor) for one night without oxygen, and it measured my oxygen levels as I tried to sleep.  Then, the next night, I wore a small oxygen tube hooked to the tank to sleep (it's better than that big CPAP machine) and it definately showed that I had sleep apnea.  Now, I just wear the small tube every night.

The best way to measure all of this, however, is to have a sleep study done at a sleep center, they can tell you what else is wrong, and if you do have anxiety, biofeedback could help.  I don' t know where you live, but I am having problems finding one of those, I may have found one in another town, but am on a waiting list because this is so prevelant.  Remember too that any type of sedation or sedating medication is not recommended if you have apnea because it puts you into a deeper sleep and your body doesn't wake up when your oxygen levels go down.  If you get a sleep study done, ask them if you can see a doctor that works with biofeedback or cognitive behavior modificaiton and if they don't have a doctor that does that, then start searching the net for one in your area.  Good luck.
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This was so crazy to read other people having this same problem. Been going to doctors for the past 2 years, and have told me the same thing, "anxiety". They put me on a pill that lowers my heart rate, and also on Potassium supplements. I was told I had a heart murmur and that I was born with it. I did alot of stupid things in my early 20's and figured those drugs are what did me in. And to this day even if the Doctor says that I was born with it I still felt like it was my own fault. Now reading these boards I am amazed to hear how very simular our symptoms are, I mean extremely simular. I am 30 years old and have been dealing with this for 2 years now.
I also asked the doctor why now am I feeling this, and never before now if I was born with it, And his answer was, because I am old enough now to be worried about my own mortality and am paying attention to my health more because I have kids.  THat was just wierd to me.

Ps. Sorry everyone I know I write like a 3rd grader, always had bad grammer skills

I must say thank you to all I finally don't feel alone or stupid for these health problems that i just get told is anxiety.
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hi my name is roelof and im 25.i have a stressfull problem.as soon as i go to sleep i stop breathing and i will jump up feeling realy bad.this happens evry day of my life.its getting realy scary as i dont realy know what to do.people say im just stressed and over worked,but i know its something else.please can someone help me
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1809143 tn?1316394320
Hello Dundun:

I hate to say it, but I have the same problem (and it's not natural in my case), and it scares the doctors more than me. I don't go to doctors, but recently had chest pains and went in - I was diagnosed with type II Diabetes (and was born with a genetic predisposition for it and didn't know it - I'm 44), and the chest pains were from stable angina coupled with high blood pressure. That was 6 months ago, and since, I have lowered my cholesterol, A1C, blood pressure, and triglycerides, however the chest pains persisted and I went to see a cardiologist.  He insisted I get an angiogram/angioplasty/stents. I had three blockages - two were in the right coronary artery, right next to one another. One small one was on the left. They installed two stents in the right artery (the left is going to be dealt with using medication unless it presents a problem). The night of the surgery, I was very tired, but couldn't go to sleep because of a medication I was told not to take to control my glucose levels - that and the RNs had to keep checking my bandages every half hour or so, and I had a 20lb sandbag on my waist. Anyway, I was very drowsy, and dozed off. A minute later, I woke up (as you described), with what appeared to be the entire hospital staff in my room - I asked what happened, and they said my heart stopped for 18 seconds. I felt nothing prior to it happening and nothing after - just drowsed off and woke up. This repeated 3 times that evening before I forced myself to stay awake. My cardiologist came in and could not explain why it was happening, and they discharged me. The best guess they had was it was a new medication they gave me (Effient) combined with another medication (Metoprolol). Although I am no longer in the hospital, I think the problem is still occurring, as I wake up much as you describe, and my heart seems to be fluttering. I have on order a pulse oximeter, which has an alarm if my heart rate goes out of range just so I know it is really happening. Otherwise I have appointments with my GP and cardiologist in the next two weeks.

As far as your fear of doctors goes, I look at mine like this: I too didn't like to see doctors/was afraid, but after I had 3 angina attacks, I had to do something - seeing the GP and getting the initial diagnosis wasn't too bad, but some of the things which followed went like this: treadmill test (very bad), visit to cardiologist - good. Surgery - not something I would care to experience again: I am extremely tickelish, and shaving the area was almost unbearable, then the anesthetic was extremely painful for about 30 seconds - the procedure was quick (~45 minutes), and I had a great surgeon, but the rest of the ~24 hours or so that I was there could be described as uncomfortable at best. On the plus side, my angina appears to be gone, but this heart stopping problem is the next biggest concern.

Lancey1
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DunDun,

Have your thyroid levels checked.  I'm a young, fit female who started having heart arrhythimias a few years ago, as well as the same symptoms you describe (mild social phobia, cessation of breathing during sleep, etc.).  I have never used drugs, don't drink often, am a non-smoker.  My thyroid levels were WAY high.  As soon as my body started to feel the effects of the medication I was on, most of my symptoms ceased occurring.  However, the one sympton that remains is that I still occasionally feel I stop breathing in my sleep, and it's concerned me enough that next week I'm going to see a pulmunologist who will probably recommend a sleep study for me.  I know that I have an irregular sleep pattern, but I have never been diagnosed with sleep apnea.  Anyway, it would be a good idea to have your thyroid checked.  Your symptoms could be related to a thyroid issue,  most likely hyperthyroidism from what it sounds like if you do have a thyroid issue.  If you are having thyroid issues, they're nothing to mess around with and can really impact your health, even be deadly if untreated - so please get checked.
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Hi, I am dealing with a similar problem, and it's extremely scary. When I drift off to sleep, it's like my heart and breathing stop. I wake up with confusion and a rattly feeling in my chest. The entire left side of my body is also very numb/dead feeling. The numbness lasts for a while and only goes away after I walk around and stay awake for a few hours. At some point, I am actually able to sleep without incident, and I somehow keep waking up the next morning. I've also been told that it's stress related, and I believe that to be true. If I've had a few glasses of wine, I go to sleep and stay asleep without incident. I don't want to get on drugs, but maybe I should go to a sleep study. The scariest part is waking up with half of my body numb and my heart racing.
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Ive got EXACTLY  the same thing. Went doctors, referred me to hospital NHS Uk. Done blood tests, ECG and oximetry and nurse said to me "bet you're one of these people who thinks the worse of everything". Now I fear the only way I will be listened to and believed is to die from it.
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I have the same problem waking up from sleeping. I thought i was half imagining it as i could never decide if it was my heart or breathing that stopped. Also i get jerked awake when almost asleep. I tried to explain my symptoms to the doctor, bit ended up leaving feeling like a hypochondriac. Now the only nights i fall asleep and stay asleep is after a few beers.
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I have the same problems that most of you are talking about and I'd have to say that I agree with the general advice given in here. A sleep study is the best way to diagnose these kinds of problems. For Dun Dun and the others the best way that I've found to get into a doctor that will understand where you're coming from and can get those sleep studies done is an ENT (ear,nose and throat) doctor. I have anxiety and heart problems so I'm used to the "we don't know" statements. I got into my ENT today and after talking to him for a few minutes he gave me the appropriate referral. Don't give up hopes guys. The help is out there :)
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I have had similar problems for years. I wake up generally during the beginning of my sleep. I wake up with a sensation that I have stopped breathing. When this happens I scream out "help". and go back to sleep and it keeps happening finnally at some point I am able to sleep. My husband tells me I wake up about 20 times each night. I was told to go to a sleep clinic but I've herad you have to wear a mask and I have clostephopia (not sure it's spelled correctly.) My doctor perscribed Loraepam 1 mg tablets. It helps some but found that I have to take another pill after waking up during the night. This helps but tells me my problem could be panic attacks or stress.
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Hi all, I have the exact same symptoms, plus a few more, I'm male, 33 in good general health and been having this for about 18 months, doctors rekon its anxiety, i'm on beta blockers which dont appear to be helping, I', going to a phsycologist to try and sort out my anxiety which i have never suffered from in the past, I also have dramas during the day, but I think thats anxiety because i can kind of bring it on by thinking about it. I get real bad shakes but they feel like they are on the inside, no one else seems to notice, I go pale, my hands and feet sweat, I feel real weak, shallowing breathing, and feel like i ahve to concentrate on my breathing, I get nausuaish, and feel stoned. I think having a couple of classes of red wine before bed seems to help me sleep, but not always, the thing that gets me is that it seems to be totally random, I can go a couple weeks feeling great and sleeping fine and then one night it'll happen all night till i finally dose off for good, its a scary feeling waking up short of breath and shaking feeling weak and barley being able to site up and reach for a glass of water beside the bed which seems to help. So not sure if this is cuasing anxiety or is the anxiety cuasing this!?  
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I'm having the same problems, exact as Dun.   Having a hard time convincing the Dr's and myself.  When at the ER or hooked to a EKG, everything looks normal.  Dun's early comments about its like waking up dead, is exactly how I feel at night.   I tell my wife, you can't explain or convince Dr's what it's like to awake feeling like this and still be alive.  Since I look healthy and , so far, all tests have come back normal - I agree with the Dr's, it sounds odd.  It feels like your aware but your heart is not beating and breathing has stopped.  Dun says he is not weak or fatigued - however I am, my issues are occurring more often and have been slowly getting worse since Aug 2011.  Its slowly taking a toll on me, my ability to work, my mental health and my personal relationships.  Its very difficult to go from a very intelligent, successful, mentally strong, fit, level headed alpha male to a person who feels like they are fighting a losing battle every other night or so.  At age 40, the lack of quality sleep is affecting me greatly both mentally and physically.  I'm having a heart Cath this week for exploratory purposes.
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Hi i am and norwegian man who had this same problem for 30 years. the last year it have became more and more hard this "attacks" or failure. The doctors here cannot find out what;s wrong with me. However it feels like my situation and yours out there is sellen? PS. where have dundun take the way? Have not seen him responds since april 2010. Is he alive?
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i have had these wake up panics too on and off for about 2 years they come with big stress , i have had my first panic attack 9 years ago , looks like we all have Anxiety in common also heart palpilations with the whole speeding up slowing down thing , i just had this an hour ago it starts with not much conscious other than the feeling of panic and being drugged/dead not breathing , as soon as i panic and start walking breathing hard the adrenaline kicks in and the feeling of racing pounding heart lets me know of itself in that point i start trying to calm down because the pulse kicks over 120bpm , the fear makes it worst but it always seems to pass without me dying so thats a positive right there :P it still is a horrific feeling , i have an appointment and am almost sure the doctor wont know what am talking about but the least we can do is rule out most of dangerous known illnesses that can cause this kind of crap and try to adjust our life to it , in the end the thing that makes it more and more fearful is fear ( Anxiety ) itself , so dont ever forget that enemy , good luck to everyone !
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What you have is anxiety.  Never underestimate the ability of anxiety/stress to cause all kinds of strange sensations & worries.  
Please see a psychiatrist or gp for a rx for anxiety & depression---such as Zoloft.  You are overly anxious about yourself so engage in activities that shift your focus from yourself to others or other interests.
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I'm 30 and for a while now I have been trying to go to sleep but everytime I dose off I get jerked back awake and I feel all panic like, like my body is shouting to me... YOUR DIEING so WAKE UP and breath. I fell heavy headed and off balance along with a pounding heart that feels all out of wake and not beating right and then their is times I jump up cause I can't feel a pulse at all and I jump up in major panic and then my heart is racing and pounding. My body just won't allow me to fall alsleep. I have ringing in the ears so I have to always have a tv on to mute out the ringing so it won't drive me crazy in a silenced room. I mostly sleep on the couch now cause my wife says I keep her up snoring mow and then she says she hears me breathing weird like I'm some kind of weird breathing robot exhaling my air slow, loud and weird when I am sleeping. I sitting here right now at 7:30 am on the couch tired as heck but didn't sleep all night cause everytime I try or my brain trys to shut down on its I suddenly get a butterfly feeling in my gut and I jerk awake fast. My brain is shutting down only to awake me in a jerking weird way. Now I can't sleep. I need a sleep study BAD. My heart rate will drastically rise every time my brain trys to shut itself off for sleep. This stuff is scary. I shouldn't feel scared to sleep. Can a upcoming sinus  issue cause this? I'm in montana and my head in this snowy cold state is bad and I just feel off balanced every time I move my head around. I've felt this get worse and worse as the years go by. I may have a deep sinus infection in my head but I have no runny nose. Also when I jerk awake I feel pressure in my ears like I have ear plugs in and as Im forced awaken from the jerk of my brain forcing me back away. I swear I'm too scared to take sleepng pills and I should probably avoid them. All this ***** I swear. My brain is on a roll trying to auto shut down but it won't let me FALL FULLY back a sleep.
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I feel that its blatantly apparent  that you're suffering from anxiety. Perhaps your extreme anxiety is the root of your problem.
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I definitely have anxiety, I've said so.  But you're wrong; that's not the cause of this problem.  I hope you're not a doctor.

It was caused by taking Dramamine while flying.  The same thing happened another time I flew and took Dramamine.  Right after arriving, I was having dinner and kept having weird panicky sensations that parts of my body were going numb or limp, but when I touched them they were fine.  Again, I kept waking up in the night feeling like my heart had stopped or my breathing had stopped, same as the original post.  Again, it kept happening for weeks afterward.

But recently, I flew again.  I was very anxious about missing the plane, couldn't sleep.  This time I took Bonine instead of Dramamine, and despite having very high anxiety and jet lag, I didn't have any weird sensations or sleeping problems.
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To clarify: I haven't had this problem for years now.
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Good to hear you're ok. I've had similar problems and turned out to have Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome. After surgery in 2011 it seemed ok. Until recently I started waking up at night like you were. Not sure if it's tied to anxiety/stress from work or a return of my WPW. Have you ever been tested for WPW?
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I'm guessing that would be detected immediately in the EKG, though, right?
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my mom i think was a diabetic and wouldnt go to the doctor years ago, til in the last 8 weeks and she was diagnosed diabetic....... kidneys then were functional around 50% and your body can have complication after that...... she went to sleep and never woke up....... just dont know why she died, but my guess is diabetic could have cause the complication and made her quit breathing (heart attack)   she didn't have heart problems
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what did u do to fix this problem? i am going through same problem.
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I am crying as I write this because for quite some time I have had the exact same symptoms and felt awkward trying to explain it to a doctor. There were times that I felt as if I continued sleeping I would not wake up. At times I must take deep breaths to get my heart back in sync. It is as if there is an absolute silence in body, as if the blood stops flowing through my veins. It is horrible and scares me immensely. Thanks to this thread I now have an avenue to pursue. Thank you.
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Your trapezius muscle, which runs from your neck and across your shoulders is going into spasm. This restricts your lungs and the amount of air that you can breathe. If you're awake, it can feel like you're drowning. Asleep, once the CO2 levels exceed a certain point, your heart will kick in hard (in the same way that breathing CO2 into someones' lungs kick starts theirs in "the kiss of life), and that will wake you up startled and anxious.
Neuroleptics regulate the heart rhythm, avoiding the normal fluctuations, and will keep you from waking. However, although your heart remains pumping, you will still be suffering oxygen deprivation, and whatever long term consequences that may have.
I'd suggest you find a good chiropractor, and explain your problem. Physicians seem to take a snapshot of how a patient presents, and if all seems well (which it would) fail to investigate further, putting it down to anxiety.
There are no anxiety disorders; merely undiagnosed or misdiagnosed physical disorders leading to anxiety states.
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I wish I have come across this post sooner, I been having multiple similar issue lingering around for years. Been to ER many times for short of breath, chest pain, chest discomfort, heart palpitations, and many other problems. I have to. Say I have a PCP that is very supportive. He sent me to see who ever is necessary to get things fix as much as possible.

I also been traveling to China for many times and also been in the Chinese hospital many times. If I have any major problems while I'm there, I make a trip out to hong Kong for more advance medical treatment. Also been hospitalize in hong Kong a couple of time for about 3 days and many times to the hospital ER in hong Kong as well.

After a few ER visit, got all kinds of test, ECG, stress test, echo, xray, all came back normal. I was diagnosis with anxiety and panic disorder. I was refer to see a psychologist because its the mind that is causing many problems. My main issues are constantly worrying about something, many what-if questions, fear of death, fear of heart attack and heart problems, which in return caused me to be extremely nervous, pounding heart, chest pain, sleepless, etc. I was put on Prozac in the beginning, which it seem to do the job for a period of time. Took the med for a year and was better for another, than everything came back again, just as bad as the first time it happen. Back to ER I go, more workup, this time even a cardiologist did a angiogram on my heart to look for blockage in arteries and I was good.

So back to see a psychology I go, this time a different doctor. He gives me paxil, been seeming him for a good 2 years, didn't really seem to improve things. Over the time, my anxiety slow down,  but I didn't felt the med was doing more than it already did. So current I stop taking it all together. Had to cut down slowly otherwise there is a major withdrawal.

At the same time, with that many trip to ER, I was also following a cardiologist for the last 4-5 years already. My cardiologist is very good, he will do a stress test, a echo and other test once a year. I even had a holter on for 48 hours and a event monitor on for a month to monitor my heart activities. Since I have high blood pressures and other health problems that could or couldn't effect the heart, my cardiologist thinks it's best he keep an eye out for me.

I have to say, over the few years with major anxiety and panic disorder, it has completely ruin my life style. Thou as any doctor will assure you, anxiety will not cause any life danger, but it sure can ruin your life.

Oh, by the way, that sleeping issue everyone has, I also have the same thing. It is bad. As soon as I'm cross between awake and sleep, it felt like a shock, spasm, felt like my heart stop and restart, or felt like I stop breathing and waking up gasping for air. Its goes all night and can not fall asleep at all. I'm thinking I might need to see a sleeping specialist. Its very frustrating, so tire in the day and can't sleep in the night.
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I'm currently not seeing a psychologist and not taking any other anti depressant meds, but I am taking xanax as needed to calm my brain down. In someway it does help. Its a fast acting agent, you feel it in about 10 min. I still have my anxiety problems, just try to deal with it as it comes. If it gets any worst, I will have to go back and see a psychologist against.

Oh, I also forgot to mention, I had many panic attack over the last few years, almost blackout a few times on the freeway while driving that just hit me. So be careful.

Oh by the way, you need to find a doctor that really is on your side and willing to work with you, otherwise its going to be so much more stressful and not good for your health. So if you doctor thinks you are hopeless or helpless, you need a different doctor
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I am 18 and I am having the same thing  it just started one month ago and I am thinking about going to the doctor today. when I was born I had a hole in my heart but it was supposed to close and having been to the doc to check on it I do know if this could have something t9 do with it people are saying its anxiety but I wanna be sure Cruz coronary heart disease runs in my family and the symptoms I'm having says it could be that or arrythmias
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Unless he's a psychologist its not his field to tell you or anyone that. But surely he wouldn't be so unprofessional to speak about patients this way. Maybe a new doctor?

I would like to know your outcome, as I was having heart palpitations last night and woke up in the middle of night trying to breath and couldn't.  I have had this only a couple times before this one. This one was the worst.  it came with sleep paralyis in the past.

One thing about doctors that I've learned is that it is all a guessing game and the last doctor I saw told me that my guess was better than theirs. Really. So...if you think he have something make them test you for it. Make them earn their education. If their bed side manner is not to your liking see someone else.

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I have been experiencing this same thing for about 10 months. It only happens when I am asleep but I suddenly wake up with the feeling that my heart has stopped beating and that I am dying. I do not believe it is sleep apnea because I do not wake up panting or breathing heavy as one would with oxygen deficiency.

I think it is due to my high blood pressure medicine. I take Lisinopril. I took 5mg per day for years but at the beginning of 2014 I had a period of high blood pressure and my doctor upped the dosage to 10mg. This is when I started experiencing this. I asked the doctor to give me another prescription for 5mg and he said only if I want to have high blood pressure again. I have tried splitting the pills in half but they are tiny.

Like some have said I'm convinced my doctor thinks I'm a hypochondriac so I hesitate to say too  much to him.  Anyway, he never has more than about 10 minutes to spend with me. He seems to be under some quota to see a certain number of patients per day.
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I am Anna. 12 years old. Born in 2002. When I am asleep I suddenly woke up because I felt that my heart skipped a beat. Then I woke up trying to catch my breath from shock. I'm so scared. I'm turning 13 this April 27, 2015. And one time I'm sleeping in the afternoon then my presence of mind suddenly woke up then I tried to open my eyes, but I can see only blurred surroundings then I cant feel my arms, so I tried to move. But I can't move at all. I'm super scared and don't know what to do. Please help me.
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What you describe sounds similar to something called "sleep paralysis." Most people experience this at least once in their lifetime, and some people have this problem recurrently. Sleep paralysis is scary, but it is not dangerous at all. It usually occurs when people are sleep deprived or have a "sleep deficit" and more often occurs when people sleep on their backs than when sleeping on their sides or stomachs. This is definitely something to bring up with your primary care provider (family doctor, general practitioner, etc.) just in case they think it could be caused by something else.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_paralysis
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" I do not believe it is sleep apnea because I do not wake up panting or breathing heavy as one would with oxygen deficiency."

I believe this is a misconception. Of the people I know personally with sleep apnea, I've never seen them panting or breathing heavily like one would from aerobic exercise.

It is really unsafe to cut your medication dose in half, *especially* after your doctor has specifically advised you not to. If you don't have confidence in this doctor, it's entirely appropriate to seek out a second (or even third) opinion. Considering your symptoms, it makes sense to request a sleep study to test for sleep apnea. This is a perfectly reasonable request, and if your doctor is unwilling to definitively rule this out, the best thing to do would be to see a different doctor for a second opinion.
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This happens to me also.When laying on your back,muscles relax and the back of your throat will kind of close shut.This causes a sudden loss of breath of course.Anxiety makes the muscles do alot of weird things which can make it worse.Acid reflux contributes I believe as your throat muscles tend to spasm due to the burning.
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Hi, folks! I was wondering if you might help us out by answering a one-question survey?  If you have a moment, go to the front page (hit the back to community button at the top of this page) and locate the poll about sleep topics. I would love to have your feedback. Thanks, H.
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i have same problem, this few years experiencing dysautonomia and i finally have a few preventing tip i do.
1. be calm and feel any pain in you chest, its really little pain that almost you dont feel it but when you massage the pain get in your nerve i mean its really please your body like almost a 100 yrs lying in bed. use a oil or something chill/cold that use in massage. i use omega
2. dont lean your arm/use your arm to support your chest too long. sometimes the bone or the blood vein is the reason.
3. do an exercise. its really helpful in all kinds of problem in your body
4. ancient kwak doctor (acupuncture, not-like-ours people) is useful in this kind of problem go see them if you know someone.
5. eat regularly, an air that wont go out in your stomach is triggering
6. dont sit all day. stretching your body is good

im not a doctor im just guy have same problem and wishing you that my tip can help you.
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I’m a 58 year old male that has sleep apnea. Did four sleep studies & they say I have a mild case of sleep apnea but it feels a lot worse than mild. I tried the CPAP breathing machine but it didn’t work. I tried having the operation to take my tonsils out but that didn’t work. I’ve been fighting this for 7 years. I wake up at 4:30am every morning in a panic & my blood pressure is high but goes down after 45 minutes. But now my blood pressure doesn’t seem to going down as much as it used to. And then go back to bed & sleep 2 more hours. If I get 7 hours of sleep it feels like 3 hours.  Like a lot of the other commenters have said it’s really crippled my life professionally & personally. I’m falling asleep at my job. Tired all the time. Can’t focus very good. It really took its toll on my marriage which ended up in divorce.  I’m kind of a zombie half of the time. I am afraid to go to sleep cause I think I’m going to died. Like other people said I wake with headaches & light headed. I have a tremendous feeling of impending doom & then it passes after I’ve been awake for awhile. But now I found an app on my android phone that I downloaded that’s called “Paced breathing” that I do an hour in the morning & an hour at night & three time on the weekend when I have more time to put oxygen back in my body & it’s been helping. I think the lack of oxygen in my body is perpetuating the sleep apnea. I'm not out of the woods but it's helped. Also I am going to get a custom mouth piece specifically made for sleep apnea from my dentist to see if that will help the sleep apnea. Hopefully it will help. I want my life back. I hope this helps somebody.
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I’m a 58 year old male that has sleep apnea. Did four sleep studies & they say I have a mild case of sleep apnea but it feels a lot worse than mild. I tried the CPAP breathing machine but it didn’t work. I tried having the operation to take my tonsils out but that didn’t work. I’ve been fighting this for 7 years. I wake up at 4:30am every morning in a panic & my blood pressure is high but goes down after 45 minutes. But now my blood pressure doesn’t seem to going down as much as it used to. And then go back to bed & sleep 2 more hours. If I get 7 hours of sleep it feels like 3 hours.  Like a lot of the other commenters have said it’s really crippled my life professionally & personally. I’m falling asleep at my job. Tired all the time. Can’t focus very good. It really took its toll on my marriage which ended up in divorce.  I’m kind of a zombie half of the time. I am afraid to go to sleep cause I think I’m going to died. Like other people said I wake with headaches & light headed. I have a tremendous feeling of impending doom & then it passes after I’ve been awake for awhile. But now I found an app on my android phone that I downloaded that’s called “Paced breathing” that I do an hour in the morning & an hour at night & three time on the weekend when I have more time to put oxygen back in my body & it’s been helping. I think the lack of oxygen in my body is perpetuating the sleep apnea. I'm not out of the woods but it's helped. Also I am going to get a custom mouth piece specifically made for sleep apnea from my dentist to see if that will help the sleep apnea. Hopefully it will help. I want my life back. I hope this helps somebody.
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I also have this problem. I fall asleep and gradually so does my breathing. It is better if I sleep on my side and it is better if I go to bed before I'm too tired. I did take the overnight test. I did wake up gasping in the beginning. They saw nothing but did say that I did better on my side. I am more comfortable on my back...but maybe too comfortable. :)
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I am only 12 years old and have had problems with this kind of sleeping disorder also. It all started one day while I was playing soccer. The Humidity was very high and temperatures might have been in the 90's. I pretty much had bad breathing all through out the soccer practice, but when are trainer told us to go run a few laps, that's when it got bad. I only ran maybe 50 - 60 yards tell I had a panic attack and was completed deprived of my ability to breath, luckily I was able to calm down and was forced to leave practice. Then (I think it was around that night to two night later) I started waking up gasping for air. I probably got in bed at 10 and fell asleep at 1 in the morning. My mother, being a single parent as she still is, walking me around my apartment complex and I started to get better, but as soon as I walked in the door, it got worse.
     I had this problem go on for about 2 weeks, then it died down and it turned into a thing that only happened when a; I ate to much sugar: b; I went to bed to late: or c; I really thought about while going to bed. It still is a thing that happens, even 6 months later, but it has died down over the time and I never went to the doctor, which was a mistake. I really think you should be checked out as maybe it isn't a disorder and could lead to bigger problems. Even if the doctors cant prescribe you with any medicine, its always good to have closure.

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Yes I have this exact problem too. sorry to reply 7 years late :P but you do explain it so well. the worst part is when i am falling asleep and i accidentaly let my heart drop past that low feeling point. because then as you say my hand and feet get pins and needles or sometimes just twitch out completely . i really beleive in these moments if i dont cough or sit up fast that i am gonna die.. I Jump up out of bed because of it too. and unlike you guys i do do drugs and i do smoke and drink.. which can make it worse but i get it even when i am clean. :(
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