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Waking up by choking/coughing
I notice that sometimes when I am asleep I am woken up by a cough as if I'd stopped breathing.  I am not overweight although I am told I snore.
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The cough may be irritant in nature. It is possible that you may have acid reflux from the stomach. Sleep is associated with less saliva and less movement along the esophagus which may promote more reflux. Consider your dinner time schedule, you may need to eat 3-4 hours or so before going to bed or assuming a supine/flat on back position. You could also try to sleep with your head in a more elevated position (add more pillows).
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Thank you I will take your advice although I always eat before 8pm.  I'll try the extra pillows, thanks.  
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This could be a symptom of sleep apnea, where you actually do stop breathing in your sleep and your body is waking you up telling you to breath.  I would see a sleep specialist.  They can do a sleep study.  I was amazed to discover that I was actually waking up as many as 18 times an hour because I had stopped breathing.  Sleep Apnea left untreated can lead to heart problems, memory issues and daytime drowsiness.  It's definitely something that you don't want to ignore.
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Overweight is not a prerquisite for slepe apnea. Underweight people can have sleep apnea too. There is just a larger portion of the sleep apnea community that are overweight. Studies are being done right now to determine how much more likely a person is to develop sleep apnea the heavier they are. I would have this checked out. I've had sleep apnea for at least 2 yrs now and I am 5' 10" and when it roughly onset, I only weight about 160lbs. Max body weight for my height is 191lbs.
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Thanks for your advice - I have thought for awhile that I ought to have it checked out especially as I don't sleep well either and often have awful nightmares.
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Thank you for your advice too.  Aren't there more symptoms to sleep apnea?  And which as far as I know do not apply to me.  Although as I said to sharriso I sleep badly, have nightmares and suffer from Hag Syndrome, which is waking during sleep paralysis which results in my experiencing terrifying struggles with something.  Unable to move or scream I cannot fight back.  Luckily I've heard that this is quite common, but the combination of all the above is quite stressful.
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