Hi, I have a few questions that I'm really hoping somebody can help me with. But let me start by explaining. I have these episodes where I will be extremely exhausted and I will lay down to sleep but sometime during my sleep I don't kow what happens. I still feel extremely exhausted but I start desperately trying to wake up I can't move and I find it difficult to breathe and then sometimes I think I just stop breathing all together and I'm just paralyzed like that without the ability to breathe and my mind floating somewhere around inmy body I eventually break through and am able to fully awaken though lately I have automatically been pulled right back in, in fact it happened three times in the same period one after the other. What scares me most is when I stop breathing or find it difficult to breathe. What I want to know is what is wrong with me? Can I stop this? Could it be stress or is it just me? And is it possible for me to actually stop breathing and die during this while fully aware that I have stopped breathing? If I just let go and stop fighting will I simply stop breathing and die? I would really appreciate some answers because I'm kind of afraid to go to sleep and I cant concentrate on anything my school is suffering and there is just way too much going on in my life without this.Oh and I'm actually having a hard time breathing right now though that could just be nerves since I recently woke up from an episode.
I would get with my doctor and ask for a sleep study. It could be a lot of things. The first thing that pops to mind when someone says they stop breathing at night is sleep apnea, but your description doesn't really sound like sleep apnea. A sleep study would be the first thing I would try. Good luck!
As mentioned your symptoms could be due to Obstructive Sleep Apnea. When a person sleeps the airways are usually patent allowing normal passage for air entry. The upper airway that is at the region of the tongue and the soft palate is the most compliant (soft) part. So, this is liable to collapse and cause airway obstruction. Now why does this obstruction happen in some people? 1. In over weight people the circumferential diameter becomes smaller. 2. Anatomical factors (structure) like enlarged tonsils, volume of the tongue, lengthy soft palate or abnormal positioning of the maxilla and mandible can further narrow the lumen 3. Some people are prone for decreased neuromuscular activity to the upper air way muscles during sleep and this reduces the tone of the muscles leading to further collapse of the airway.
As the air way collapses the lungs do not have air entry leading to deoxygenation (decreased oxygen) of blood and the person wakes up. This period of non entry of air is called ‘Apnea’ and the waking up is called an ‘Arousal’. This keeps alternating and the person may not actually wake up all the time, but these repeated arousals can disturb the sleep architecture and cause fatigue, headaches and daytime sleepiness. These people are also more prone for Hypertension. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is more common in people who snore.
I would advise you to consult a sleep specialist who would assess with first a sleep questionnaire, and then he may ask for a polysomnogram, which is an overnight sleep study as this helps to detect the apneas. Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea is by CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) where air under gentle pressure is passed into the airways keeping it patent. In the meantime you could avoid taking alcohol and try to sleep on your side as this keeps the airways patent. If any nasal blocks try to keep them patent with OTC nasal decongestants. Aim for optimum weight with exercises or long walks and walk your way to sleeping well!!
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