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Avatar universal

Girlfriend stops breathing in her sleep. Absolutely NOT sleep apnea.

My girlfriend stops breathing in her sleep almost every night.  Often it is as soon as she falls asleep, after 15-30 seconds she will start gasping and arching her back.  she is almost always aware of what is going on.  She stares at me with a frightened look and her whole body shakes sometimes.  She also passes out during the day occasionally.  Sometimes her episodes of not breathing follow or are followed by intense nightmares.  Sometimes she even looks at me and talks to me but is obviously unconscious.  I have tried to wake her up and was only successful once.  The one time she woke up she was extremely frightened and jumped away from me.  She refuses to go to a doctor so I've been trying to research similar cases.
6 Responses
Avatar universal
probably should have added, 21 year old female.
1780921 tn?1499301793
It sounds like she has Sleep Apnea. A person stops breathing for a short amount of time and then starts back up again. She needs to go see a doctor and have a sleep study done. She might need to wear a mask that forces air into lungs to prevent it.
7721494 tn?1431627964
At night, this sounds like sleep apnea. Nightmares, dissociative behavior, confusion -- it all matches.

However, the daytime syncope is troubling. Syncope (which is a temporary loss of consciousness), is not associated with sleep apnea, but could come from a variety of neurological or cardiac medical issues.

The best way you can help her is to convince her to see a doctor about these two problems.
Avatar universal
Possibly epilepsy.  That's serious enough to need attention.  She shouldn't be driving if she can pass out.  Though talking during a seizure would probably rule it out, as would the distinct pattern of every night.  

... why won't she go to a doctor?  That in itself is unusual.  Find her the type of doctor she's comfortable with - maybe female, younger, older... go with her...  
1423357 tn?1511085442
How are you sure that it's "absolutely not sleep apnea"?  Along with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, it could also be Central Apnea.  You thankfully  are her advocate, observe closely what is going on, and report what you see.  I have my wife to thank for no doubt saving my life.  She urged me to get a sleep study done at our local hospital which revealed extreme Obstructive Sleep Apnea. I got on CPAP and am fine today.
Avatar universal
Update.  the no-breathing episodes have mostly quit.  Now it's worse.  I believe she has Dissociative Identity Disorder.  All the signs and actions point to that.  The problems is that she is so scared to go to a doctor because she doesn't want to be called "crazy".  

How do I talk to her to convince her that she needs help without scaring her more.  These episodes are a hundred times scarier than when she quit breathing.  I talked to her "alter" last night for at least an hour before she went back to being herself.  She is extremely scared to even hear what happens during these episodes.  
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