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Nocturnal fainting

For over 10 years I have been having occasional to frequent what I have come to call
34 Responses
Avatar universal
Hi,sorry to hear your not feeling well.Have you been to your doctor or neurologist about these symptoms?Some of what you describe are panic attacks,being through a traumatic experience does some times bring on fear or afraid of dying.You need to make an appointment with your doctor or neurologist.Having a pinched nerve in your neck does not cause,these feelings.Or having arthritis in your neck.Make an appointment as possible though.You may need an MRI of your brain,or catscan of your brain.It could be seizures or pin strokes.I can't say for sure I am not a doctor.Take care of your self.Harttohart.
Avatar universal

Hello ecogirl, I'm sorry I don't have any answers for you but I just wanted you to know that you're not alone. My daughter suffers from the same problem. Even though she's not an anxious person, she does have a stressful job and I think in her case they are panic attacks. Have a browse of this page, it may help. Good luck.

Avatar universal
Thanks to you both for your responses.
Avatar universal
Get your blood pressure checked. Sometimes when you are at rest or relaxing, your blood pressure can drop fast and cause a fainting feeling or heaviness. Especially in people with already low but still normal blood pressure.
Avatar universal
I have the exact same feeling...im asleep and its darkness all around and I feel that I try to get up but am unable to itls like i cant move  but only my brain keep telling me to get up...its like im slipping into coma or going to die or something...because of this im scared to go to sleep ... is there some kind of medical help...and yes i do have low pressure
Avatar universal
Thank God someone knows what I'm talking about!!!!

Hi. I recently began to feel the symptoms you explained. Fainting in my sleep. Last weekend it happened to me while I was awake and I was taken to the ER. After extensive tests the only thing the doctors could come up with was Magnezium defficiency. I explained the fainting in my sleep to the doctor. It sounded foreign to him.
I read up on Magnezium defficiency - it explained most of my symptoms (panic, shortness of breath, extreme weakness) but it didn't say anything about sleep fainting. The magnezium has helped me a little but I'm sill not quite back to my self. You sould think about magnezium.
Avatar universal
I have had the same symptoms...I thought I was going crazy, I have all these weird symptoms that I think my boyfriend doesn't believe me or tries to but can't imagine what I'm talking about. I dread going to sleep because of it. I love sleeping once I'm there but the thought of going to bed is horrible. I don't know if I just let myself go through it without panicking if I would actually die. I've always had a really easy time falling asleep as a child. I remember once when I was in about 10th or 11h grade I woke up and couldn't move I couldn't talk it was like I was paralyzed. I cried for a few minutes then jumped in my little sisters bed for comfort (not exactly my style) to say the least she knew something was up, my only affection towards her before that was to be her worst nightmare (typical big sis ;P) Then I read about something called sleep paralysis and it sounded like what happened to me. This is a definition from wikipedia "Physiologically, it is closely related to the paralysis that occurs as a natural part of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is known as REM atonia. Sleep paralysis occurs when the brain awakes from a REM state, but the body paralysis persists. This leaves the person fully conscious, but unable to move."
If I find out any more I will let you know. I hope there is an answer because this is not doing me any good in relation to my job.
Avatar universal
Although I am pleased to read that I am not alone, I am very sorry you have these symptoms. I too have had this feeling and recently it has been getting more frequent.

The reason I found this was because I typed 'fainting in sleep' into Google after my experience last night.  I am also petrified of going back to my so called slumber after one of the 'attacks'. In fact, for me, it can also happen in a dreamstate. Last night I was asking my wife to call an ambulance for me as I was collapsing to the ground.

That was the worst one to date.

My symptoms seem to be the same as yours "Even though I am asleep, I begin sensing that I am fainting and I think that I am dying. I wake up in a complete panic, my heart is pounding very rapidly and I am desperately fighting not to go �there�."

These could be heart attacks or minor strokes, or as harttohart puts it a neurological issue. Please take his advice (as I will now) and return to your doctor with a view of a  neurologist visit is necessary.

All the best.
Avatar universal

I have all the symptoms you have written down, the feeling of dieing and everything, I've had them during dreams, and during just falling asleep... I always scream to get out of them, and wake everybody up... and yesterday I came out of this state but then everything around mi was whirling around, and had the seance I was hallucinating... maybe I was having REM but I was conscious??? but why the death feeling, and why can I get out of it if I scream??? And when I had these I didn't really have a stressful life, so it's not because of that...
Can anyone help???
Has anyone tried to let the feeling go, and "die"???
Avatar universal
I am so happy to find you.  You described my experience perfectly.  I have been going through this for four years now.  I had one episode, then another one three years later.  This month, I had two.  I just finished a three-day stay in the hospital.  Your name for this condition is so appropriate, "nocturnal fainting."   I know now that I am not crazy and not the only one experiencing this.  Doctors have not heard of this sleep fainting.  I wake up with THE funny feeling that it is happening.  Then as you all have said, I fight desperately not to go "there."  Please...no...please...not again!  I just want to stop it, but nothing can stop it.  My body feels so heavy.  I am hot, sweating, and I can't breathe.  I am dizzy and disoriented.  As I describe this to the doctors, I always say it feels like I am dying.  The diagnoses in the past have been dehydration and potassium. This time the hospital ran every test possible.  I wish I could confidently name all of them: Carotid, EEG, ECG, Eco, the one where the pressure is measured standing, lying, sitting, 24 hour heart monitoring, etc.  It was determined that due to a diuretic in my blood pressure medicine and possibly the weather, my body was unable to remain hydrated. He took me off that medication and put me on one w/o diuretic. It took 5 liters of liquid to hydrate me before I could leave the hospital.  I had been drinking four 16 oz bottles of water a day.  Now I know that I have to drink more.  I am willing to do whatever I need, not to ever experience nocturnal fainting again.  We will see what happens.  I hope your condition has improved.

The Teacher
Avatar universal
I have the same symptoms, and I am really scared. My brain feels totally awake during the faint, I can hear my boyfriend's playing computer games and my house-mates are talking; but my whole body feels so heavy and its like I lost control of my whole body. I can't even breath sometimes. People think I'm sleeping like an angel so calmly, but I'm dying inside. They have no idea what is going on in me!! I told my boyfriend about this, but he didn't really take me seriously. Every time to wake up from this nightmare, I fight...  but no one can see that. When I finally wake up. I'm all sweaty and my eyes are full of tears. It feels like I almost died...

Are there any medication for this?
I will do anything to stop this Horrible thing going on with me...
Avatar universal
Sorry to hear about this for you folks. I hate these feelings.  I just had an episode again myself, which led me here. I was recently diagnosed with neurocardiogenic syncope by a neurologist and a cardiologist. Unfortunately I haven't been able to convince them that this also happens while I am asleep. There isn't any real treatment anyway, and most docs say it's no big deal.  

I am not going to buy that, and hope I get treatment because anyone with the condition can tell you it's NOT 'no big deal.'. Good luck to you all.
Avatar universal
I've been having these episodes for about a month. I don't experience paralysis, just near-fainting.  It has always happened after I've been asleep for a couple of hours, then gotten up and laid back down.  Within 30 seconds or so of reclining, I start to feel I'm being sucked into a vortex and have trouble breathing.  I sit up to get control, and have to control my breath until it gets better.  It feels like I might die.  (However, as you'll see below, there isn't any fear or panic.  I was extremely sick as a young child and don't have what is generally considered a normal fear of dying.)

Usually, it has taken 5-20 minutes to get over the worst part, but hours to be able to recline again.  One night, it just wouldn't let up, so I went to the ER.  They weren't very helpful, and suggested panic attacks, which is a psychological disorder, and not what is going on here.  My internist thinks it's probably a side effect of some other meds, which I'm getting off of.  My mother had the same thing, once, and began taking electrolytes, which stopped it.  So far, that hasn't helped me.  It's got something to do with the reclining position and ..what, blood pressure?  It's not a "panic attack" because I don't experience fear, mostly annoyance and anger that my routine is being interrupted.  I think docs throw that label out when they don't know what else to call something.  However, fear is a part of the definition of a panic attack.   The Mayo clinic website says that the fear triggers the other symptoms, not the other way around.  In my case, it's reclining that triggers them.  Don't let people tell you it's a panic attack, if that isn't your experience!  The ER doc also said that, if it isn't a panic attack, a cardiologist would have a hard time diagnosing it, as unexplained fainting is very hard to figure out. In the meantime, I'll just keep having to get it under control when it happens. Good luck, everyone!
Avatar universal
I Googled fainting in my sleep cause I know from past experiences that the docs are never really right about whats wrong. I have had this problem for anout 3 months now. I have been battling cancer for a year and that was enough stress to know I could die from it but now this? I get the same symptoms. I'll fall asleep but then bout a hour later I wake up trying to breathe. I feel like i'm bout to faint or that i'm lacking oxygen. I also feel as though i'm going to die in my sleep and that terrifies me enough to where i dont want to go back to seep. I start to panic. I really hope the docs can diagnose all of us soon case it's not just one of us but alot of people with the same symptoms. I take Lunesta from time to time to sleep cause I have Insomnia but this feeling is just too powerful. I'm scared to tell anyone cause I feel like they are gonna think i'm going crazy. I am gonna go get checked out by a doctor and I will metion that I found several other people with this problem. There has to be an explantion to all this. I'm glad we are not alone. Best health to you and I hope you all get better.
Avatar universal
After the last couple of years I have some strange experiences whilst in bed at night. After soon going to bed but not to sleep I have a sudden feelings that my brain has been unplugged, it then feels like in the next few seconds before I black out completely, in which time I experience the following. I have no idea how long this all takes because I am in bed, I get regular 10-11 hours’ sleep at night and remember everything  when I wake from this experience but not in a panic and usually go back to sleep afterwards. And wake up fine in the morning.
-slowing of breath
-heaviness of body
-stiffness of body
-clenching of hands and arms
-feeling of dying
-flashes of images going hundred miles an hour
-can’t speak, even though my mind is sound
-painful high pitched sound in brain
-voices that are my own telling me to get up
-awareness of what’s around me
-Rapid eye movements
-Then black-out
There is epilepsy in the family but I only ever have these symptoms at night. After looking on the internet I can recognise some but not all of these symptoms in Sleep apnea of Rapid eye movements (REM) but there seems to be no medical info on sleep fainting of fits.  They are becoming more frequent now at 25 and female but thinking back I’ve always had them but put them down to dreaming. Maybe I am dreaming?
Avatar universal
You guys are not alone indeed, I've had this "sleep paralysis" or "lifting above my body" or feeling like dying experience on and off during the past7 years, at first only every 2 years once, then all of the sudden twice in a week, then not at all for a year then twice again, and now recently it happened last month twice and this month also twice. Being an athlete myself I went immediately to the doctor to check for my neck.
Mostly I found out it is related to 3 things:
1. slight internal ear infection (resulting in balance loss either during the day or in sleep)
2. Muscle pain or contraction in the neck area all the way up into the skull (resulting in blood vessels being constraint, nerves sending ache information to the brain, loud sounds, popping sounds)
3. Too much work at the computer or another surface without breaks.

In my case it is both. The pressure of the nerves around the neck muscles that finish or hold the cervical bone (right under and inside the skull) is almost unbearable these days. There are very good physio-therapy stretching exercises your doctor can give you, especially the one in which you have to stand up, knees bent just a little, pull the stomach in, hips towards the front, head straight, chin towards the chest but keeping the head up (so chin "in") and stretching the head upwards as if someone was pulling it from above by a very straight string.
You should feel the muscles inside stretch and with them the pressure inside will be released. The nerves will relax a bit and the blood vessels will not be pressured and will be able to circulate freely.
The other exercise is lying flat on your back on the floor, feet-knees&back all having contact to the floor, hands next to the temple and lifting up  the shoulders and the neck from the floor (attention not only the neck, both with the shoulders in a straight supporting line) up and down 10 times, or 5, or 20, depending how many you can. For me 8 is maximum right now...(this exercise looks like the push ups only on your back)
In any case it is very important you do physical exercise which reinforces your neck muscles! the only way to get close to what happens in your brain besides "thought" is exercise: the eyes and the neck muscles have a pretty direct impact inside our skull. I hope this information helps.

When we hear the noise I heard it means that the blood can not circulate freely through the blood vessels. An aspirine (or nurofen) and the stretching exercises help me a lot. An xray of the spine in the neck area will give you a good idea of what is going on there.

Watch out for your position during the day, notice what is the activity you do most or what is the position that is most unnatural for the body, it might affect your neck muscles without you even knowing or hurting!

I wish you all good luck, did anyone hear about this as being called "astral traveling"? apparently there are some people who meditate especially to be able to reach this state out of which we want to get out...
Avatar universal
PS. Whatever you decide to do, I am definitely not a doctor, please take my comments with a grain of salt and question mark your self if it is the right thing for you... thank you.
Avatar universal
I have had some on the sensations you describe when I have fainted in the past - mostly followed by vomiting. These "faints" have occurred in sleep too. After extensive tests for heart block, it was shown I had low blood pressure, a good thing for old age. Food poisoning was also involved and blood had rushed to the stomach.
Last night, however, I had a slightly different experience. I was thinking of a film I'd seen and possibly drifting off to sleep when I woke with a start unable to remember my last memory and completely panicked by that. So I told myself not to worry or try to remember at the same time I felt a little sick and thought the room needed more air (could smell a whiff of chemical or whatever from the airconditioning). I also thought "that's the second time that's happened recently, goodness my brain cells are really dying/alzeimers"...and then it clicked. Maybe I had fainted for a fraction of time. I know I have sleep apnea although I am slim and do not smoke and exercise regularly and sing. But I didn't feel I had been asleep. It was just like a memory loss that panicked me because there was a gap - when I've fainted there's the fast flashes/hallucinations/noise rush and I think I'd had that but for seconds only, then there's the slow coming to consciousness.
Scary stuff. Must check out what pin strokes are.
1767141 tn?1313678474

I cannot believe I've accidentally run across this thread. I relate to almost everything in most of the posts and I'm nearly speechless.

About 11 years ago I noticed some sleep issues and also some issues with severe acid reflux. Through the years the symptoms would wax and wane with treatment - once seeming to affect the other

As my GERD (severe acid reflux) problems got worse so did my sleep issues but I did not recognize that fact.

After years of being on acid reflux medications and it only getting worse, I finally had a sleep apnea study done and was found to have positional sleep apnea. And that's when I notice the worst of my swirling down episodes - when I'm flat on my back.

I recently had to have surgery to attach my stomach to my lower esophagus due to GERD and I thought the "swirling, whirling, fainting, slipping away, dying" feeling would stop but it has not. In many ways it's worse.

For some time I could not fall asleep - a good year or so. My doc finally gave me Trazodone to help me fall asleep and stay asleep. It does what it's supposed to do but it doesn't do much to help me to stay asleep or go back to sleep when I awaken very early and begin my daily slipping into the pit of blackness.

I have tried very hard to describe this horrible feeling to my husband (he and I both wear CPAP) and I think he understands it for the most part since he went bonkers about 5 years ago when he too became oxygen deficient.

These episodes during sleep for me always seem to be early in the morning but they have occurred at night and they wake me up. I'm always afraid, rapid heart beat, sometimes dizzy and always wonder what in the world is happening to me.

I'm always still very sleepy when these events occur and want to go to sleep again but I have to sit up or I feel as if I'm going to die on the spot. I have to breathe from my mouth if I don't get up right away and I have or get a headache soon after getting up

The sad thing now is that my early morning fright festival colors my day so much that I only settle down about noon or so and then the afternoon goes so quickly that I've grown afraid of the evening and the night because I know what's coming.

I have a wonderful life. A loving husband, everything I need, good friends, faith in God and everything in retired life to look forward to but I cannot sleep well due to sleep apnea and the feeling of impending doom that comes with my fear of getting sucked into a black hole and not being able to breathe when I do.

Hubby and I have a theory at least for me that it has something to do with my position while lying in bed and when my oxygen becomes low. It also NEVER happens when I sleep all night sitting up in my recliner. Never.

We have an adjustable bed and tonight I'm going to try my CPAP with my bed elevated nearly as high as it can go at the head.

I am WORN OUT. Exhausted and tired and ready to move on to other things. I'm waiting on the results of a 24 hour pulse ox test right now and hope to learn something more from this. I've had three sleep studies all of which indicate positional sleep apnea but I have such problems with the CPAP machine.

I hope to hear back from some of you.
It's good to know I'm not alone but that fact won't stop the terrors.


Avatar universal
I am very glad to have found this thread. I, like the rest of you, have these horrible sleep episodes that feel like I am slipping away! The first time it happened was about ten years ago when I  fell asleep on my sister's couch watching tv, and its happened about 5 more times over the last 10 yrs. This feeling of dread wakes me up. Then my feet and legs start to feel a strange tingling sensation as if they were asleep and are waking back up. Then the worst part comes. My heart will beat very heavily. I have fhe sensation that it stopped and is working hard to bring me back to life. It only lasts about a minute. But it's super scary! I had my sister take me to the ER that first time and the Doc chalked it up to stress. I know its more than that though. I was searching the net this week and found some interesting terms. Vasovagal episodes, sleep syncope, sleep apnea. All of which sound extremely similar to what im experiencing. But rhe universal theme is that its hard to diagnose,  and doctors tend to blow you off when you tell them about it. So what to do? Im up right now because I had another episode just as I was drifting off to sleep and i could feel it coming on so I sat up in bed as that will stop it if im not fully asleep when it comes over me.  Just got tested for a whole host of things, such as thyroid, electrolytes, magnesium deficiency, and anemia. I am anemic, but am on iron now and it still happened again tonight. Still waiting for the rest of the blood test results. Have any of you gotten any real answers from a doctor yet? Anyone been able to stop theirs? Please  share your tips and tricks if so!
God Bless to all of you!!!
Avatar universal
I had this happen to me for the first time last night. I woke up during the night and 10 or so minutes later as i tried to fall back asleep, i felt as though i was fainting but also paralyzed. I've fainted before and this felt exactly like that although i didnt actually black-out last night. The feeling went away after a few minutes but it scared me because id never had anything like that happen before. There have been a few times when ive woken up during the night and not been able to move a limb etc and during this, i havnt been able to call out to anybody. I've put that down to sleep paralysis, so im assuming this is related?
Avatar universal
OMG I have been noticing the same symptoms> Last night I had an episode and my heart was pumping really hard afterwards as if to revive me.  Really weird stuff. It ususally happens to me when I am falling asleep.  I also have a lot of tingling senastions all over body. I dont know if its circulation. I have never been to the Dr for it, but is pretty scary.  Now I am wondering if this is what happens when people die in their sleep. If they have one of this episodes and dont come back from it.  Scary stuff> I think I am going to look for a Neurologist.
Avatar universal
I too have this problem and have wondered about it for many years.  It does seem like the pre-cursor to an Out of Body Experience (Astral Projection) but having experienced many of those also, it isn't exactly the same.  

I'm on no medications at all and have this "fainting in my sleep" sometimes 3 times a week, perhaps 3 or 4 times, before I'm able to go to sleep - and then I may have no such nightly disturbance for a few weeks.  

Unlike the state of Sleep Paralysis (SP), it is not accompanied by a rushing noise or the usual feeling of being paralyzed, just a definite sensation complete memory loss and of being pulled somewhere in your mind and having to yank yourself back before you die. I always pull myself back with a massive intake of breathe, it is as if I have stopped breathing for some time and have to completely re-fill my lungs and sometimes feel as though my brain has suffered a mild shock, almost.  

I too have been to a sleep disorder specialist regarding SP but he insisted it could only occur in the rapid eye movement cycle of sleep, which takes around 20 minutes to reach, but I know it happens when I haven't yet fallen asleep and can be simply very relaxed in the supine (on my back) position and even just daydreaming with my eyes closed.  This makes me wonder if they really know anything at all about SP.

There is a certain link to SP episodes and laying in the supine position but these jolting sleep-fainting episodes are experienced in any position.  With SP, if I'm not conscious enough to realise that I'm about to have an OBE, I'm able to release the paralysis and stop the rushing sensations and noises by wiggling my little finger or shaking my head, the latter being more difficult to achieve.  With these episodes of sleep-fainting, there is no warning and the only way to stop it is to sit up and calm yourself down from a frenzy.

I hope this helps someone experiencing this frightening condition and good luck to all.  I doubt very much if it's related to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome because they would surely have linked it by now to previous victims complaining of SP or blacking out as they are just about to fall asleep, so I think we can relax slightly regarding dying as otherwise normal healthy people in our sleep.  No that that would be a bad way to go I suppose, but still.  <3

Avatar universal
Sleep paralysis physical symptoms are same as fainting (syncope) physical symptoms and so sleep paralysis is caused by fainting (syncope) .
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