Aa
A
A
A
Close
Sleep Disorders Community
4.84k Members
Avatar universal

stopping breathing when falling asleep

I'm 29yrs. old, and fo the last 2-3months (not every night), just as i'm about to fall deep asleep i wake up not breathing. I know this may sound stupid, but I can actually feel myself stopping breathing, then wake up fully gasping for air. It usually happens again before i finally go off, but sometimes i've actually woken up in the middle of the night struggling to breath. I'm not overweight or anything like that but I am a light smoker. Please can I have some advice about this. Thanks!!
11 Responses
172715 tn?1285498090
Tell your doctor what has been happening TODAY. Sound like you have a type of sleep apnea and it could be dangerous.  You probably stop breathing more than you realize. I have it and didn't know it until I got married, my husband is the one that noticed the problem all night long.  I didn't know that I stopped breathing 100 x per hr.  Also came out of deep sleep constantly without knowing it. Ask to have a sleep study done ASAP. Until then, sleep on your side or on 2 pillows on your back.  If you chose your side, tape a tennis ball or like item to your back (pj's top) so when you turn over to your back it will hurt enough to turn you back to your side.  Side sleeping lessens the apneas.  Get help now....
Avatar universal
Agree with idesofmarch - your symptoms merit a sleep study.

Contrary to popular thinking, many people with sleep apnea are young and fit. Throat structure, inset jawbone, tongue size, enlarged tonsils... so many possible contributing factors to obstructive sleep apnea besides weight. And while snoring can be a warning sign, not everyone with OSA snores.

There is also a kind of sleep apnea called central sleep apnea, which is of neurological origin.

Only a sleep study can tell you for sure what is happening while you sleep. There are health hazards associated with untreated sleep apnea. Not the kind of thing it would be wise to ignore.
Avatar universal
Hi,

Since when are you experiencing this problem?
This is quite possibly sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea stop breathing for at least 10-30 seconds at a time during sleep.
There are two kinds of sleep apnea obstructive and central.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the windpipe gets blocked by tongue, tonsils, uvula, fatty tissue in the throat or relaxed throat muscle.
Central apnea is rare and is due to failure of brain signaling mechanism.
I would suggest you to schedule an appointment with your doctor and get a sleep study done. Meanwhile quit smoking, alcohol and try to sleep on your side rather than on your back. Take care! Please keep us posted.
Avatar universal
I have had the same thing happen to me almost every night for the past 2 years. The second you tell someone you "gasp for air", they immediately say sleep apnea, and that you should get a sleep study.
I got a sleep study, (even though I have none of the traits), and they said I definitely don't have sleep apnea. They also couldn't tell me what it was, and offered sleeping pills. People have such a hard time grasping that it is not happening all through the night. Just once or twice while going into a deeper sleep. I dont smoke but I feel like mine is anxiety.
Good luck to you and get use to people telling you it's sleep apnea.

1 Comments
I read about anxiety as well..I just started experiencing this oddly..but I have brain injuries and PNES so I think it is anxiety for me..my eye has an odd red rash that appeared and is going away then reappeared..PNES for me has produced nonepileptic seizures but I have worked so hard to get the Topomax dosage down and these under control..yet my body is taking the stress out other ways..my pattern of brain injury is like a stroke..and the parts of course correlate with stress..frontal lobe..memory, lambic system..anxiety and stress, left side..your meat and potatoes function and corpus collalous which the info taken in does not always register correctly and going out is the same thing..stress on the body manifests into so many complications on top of whichever diagnosis maybe present....
Avatar universal
I fell asleep just some second and stop breathing (many time times kast night , until I gtook one splrring pill, I could sleep for some hours but not deep) (just happened some months , I ). Are You ok now ?  please help me to show how to do now.
Thanks
Avatar universal
Guys did you find solution for this problem I have same thing after consuming alkoholic beverages I have this issue but not every night sometimes happen out of blue but sometimes I have multiple issues during night.
if somebody find cure please advice
God bless
Avatar universal
Hi there,

I would like to contribute to this discussion hopefully with a cure as I suffered the following symptoms:

a) Just when I'm about to fall asleep, I am jolted awake with a pounding heart and I gasp a bit for air as if I forgot to breathe.

b) This continues ad nauseam, all night allowing me to get less than 1 hour of sleep and can persist for days, forcing me to take sleeping pills.

Background
I did extensive research online and have also had blood tests, thyroid test, urine test (results to come soon), lung function test, EKG, echo-gram of the heart, 24 hour holter monitor, allergy test, take-home sleep study (I have no apnea), neurology tests checking oxygen flow to brain and screening for degenerative diseases like ALS. All came back negative although I was insufficient for Vitamin D, so I am taking supplements.

As the days went by (I suffered from this for about 4-5 weeks with my main symptom during the day being shortness in breath), I finally stumbled upon 'Adrenal Fatigue'. This is the failure of our adrenal glands to produce cortisol, the stress response hormone, in adequate quantities, resulting in an internal imbalance of cortisol in our bodies. This can elevate PH levels thus reducing our CO2 tolerance at night; so when we transition from staying awake to light or REM sleep, there is a brief pause where our parasympathetic system takes over (i.e automatic breathing). In this brief pause, in my understanding, PH levels rise as do Co2 levels. If our adrenals are fatigued, our sensitivity to higher PH and Co2 levels, causes us to be jolted awake, just as we fall asleep. This is a fantastic video by an American doctor called Dr. Berg. If you put in "adrenal fatigue shortness in breath" in YouTube search you will find it.

I want to stress something here; always get yourself checked out with some or all of the tests I did above to ensure that you have no underlying condition, but most probably, it is not some underlying condition but instead what I have explained above. So please relax, I know how scary this symptom can be.

Adrenal Fatigue is well documented and all doctors know about it. There are 4 stages to adrenal fatigue and this can be caused/exacerbated by stress in your life-style (even too much exercise can cause it). It is a sneaky one as it creeps up on you and can wreak havoc on your adrenals and eventually, thyroid, causing major sleep disturbance issues.

Solution
So here are a few tangible steps I took immediately when I found out the above and I've started to sleep normally again.

a) Cut out white rice, bread or any processed foods (this is not forever, just until I am healed). This is a big big one, the moment I eat this, I get the same heart palpitations/jolts at night.

b) Your last meal should be no later than 7pm at night; make sure it is light. Some lentils/legumes, fish, or chicken but nothing heavy like a pizza followed by chocolate.

c) Magnesium tablet after your dinner meal as this relaxes the muscles. Some doctors recommend melatonin, you may wish to check it out too, I have not tried it.

d) Retire to bed at 9pm with the view to fall asleep by 10pm-11pm, maybe midnight depending on your insomnia type of condition.

e) If you are experiencing the sleeping issues described above, this most likely means your mind/body has experienced recent trauma or excessive levels of stress (you may or may not have realised it consciously). This mean you absolutely need to reduce your intraday stress; ideally get bed rest for a few days.

Literally overnight, doing a-d has entirely removed that strange "jerking" and I am now sleeping.

I understand steps a-e above seem wishy washy but they actually worked very well for me. Your sleep as you are probably well aware is where a good portion of internal body repair occurs; especially in deep delta wave REM sleep. So if you are too bored or lazy to try out the steps a-e above, please do it just for the sake of your sleep-health.

I hope the above helps some of you.
Sonic




2 Comments
Hi Sonic, thanks for the informative post. Are you aware of any influence that alcohol may have on this symptom of adrenal fatigue? I have found that alcohol or any CNS depressant seems to exacerbate the symptom, making it much more likely to occur. Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Lewie
Sonic I finally decided to find out what was going on with me when I read your post and it made all the sense to me now. I believe that you are correct when stating that the PH level as the main cause of this sleep disorder. I started using Sodium Bicarbonate to aliviate my heart burn symptoms and this was the common denominator when I experienced my body forgetting to sleep waking me up with a violent need to breathe and an accelerated heart beat, On all the occasions I had this event I took 3 table spoons on Sodium bicarbonate disolved in water to give me (I thought) a nice night sleep without the typical heart burn displeasure that eventually wakes me up in the middle of the night. I believe that increasing ph levels are the reason for this disorder that not necessarily are caused by the glands you mentioned but also by taking "heavy alkaline" fluids that can increase you ph level. Any comment on this please?
Avatar universal
Hi there,

I would like to contribute to this discussion hopefully with a cure as I suffered the following symptoms:

a) Just when I'm about to fall asleep, I am jolted awake with a pounding heart and I gasp a bit for air as if I forgot to breathe.

b) This continues ad nauseam, all night allowing me to get less than 1 hour of sleep and can persist for days, forcing me to take sleeping pills.

Background
I did extensive research online and have also had blood tests, thyroid test, urine test (results to come soon), lung function test, EKG, echo-gram of the heart, 24 hour holter monitor, allergy test, take-home sleep study (I have no apnea), neurology tests checking oxygen flow to brain and screening for degenerative diseases like ALS. All came back negative although I was insufficient for Vitamin D, so I am taking supplements.

As the days went by (I suffered from this for about 4-5 weeks with my main symptom during the day being shortness in breath), I finally stumbled upon 'Adrenal Fatigue'. This is the failure of our adrenal glands to produce cortisol, the stress response hormone, in adequate quantities, resulting in an internal imbalance of cortisol in our bodies. This can elevate PH levels thus reducing our CO2 tolerance at night; so when we transition from staying awake to light or REM sleep, there is a brief pause where our parasympathetic system takes over (i.e automatic breathing). In this brief pause, in my understanding, PH levels rise as do Co2 levels. If our adrenals are fatigued, our sensitivity to higher PH and Co2 levels, causes us to be jolted awake, just as we fall asleep. This is a fantastic video by an American doctor called Dr. Berg. If you put in "adrenal fatigue shortness in breath" in YouTube search you will find it.

I want to stress something here; always get yourself checked out with some or all of the tests I did above to ensure that you have no underlying condition, but most probably, it is not some underlying condition but instead what I have explained above. So please relax, I know how scary this symptom can be.

Adrenal Fatigue is well documented and all doctors know about it. There are 4 stages to adrenal fatigue and this can be caused/exacerbated by stress in your life-style (even too much exercise can cause it). It is a sneaky one as it creeps up on you and can wreak havoc on your adrenals and eventually, thyroid, causing major sleep disturbance issues.

Solution
So here are a few tangible steps I took immediately when I found out the above and I've started to sleep normally again.

a) Cut out white rice, bread or any processed foods (this is not forever, just until I am healed). This is a big big one, the moment I eat this, I get the same heart palpitations/jolts at night.

b) Your last meal should be no later than 7pm at night; make sure it is light. Some lentils/legumes, fish, or chicken but nothing heavy like a pizza followed by chocolate.

c) Magnesium tablet after your dinner meal as this relaxes the muscles. Some doctors recommend melatonin, you may wish to check it out too, I have not tried it.

d) Retire to bed at 9pm with the view to fall asleep by 10pm-11pm, maybe midnight depending on your insomnia type of condition.

e) If you are experiencing the sleeping issues described above, this most likely means your mind/body has experienced recent trauma or excessive levels of stress (you may or may not have realised it consciously). This mean you absolutely need to reduce your intraday stress; ideally get bed rest for a few days.

Literally overnight, doing a-d has entirely removed that strange "jerking" and I am now sleeping.

I understand steps a-e above seem wishy washy but they actually worked very well for me. Your sleep as you are probably well aware is where a good portion of internal body repair occurs; especially in deep delta wave REM sleep. So if you are too bored or lazy to try out the steps a-e above, please do it just for the sake of your sleep-health.

I hope the above helps some of you.
Sonic




1 Comments
What kind of magnesium tablet so you use. I have all the same symptoms.
Avatar universal
You may be suffering from Apnea that is medical word used to describe slowed or stopped breathing. It happans when the airways become blocked or when brain disables to send a single to breathe. The cause of your apnea is connected with type of apnea that you have. As you discussed that you facing this problem when you sleep. It indicated, you are facing sleep apnea and its causes listed below:

overly relaxed throat muscles or tongueen
larged tongue
enlarged tonsils
being overweight
irregular function of the brain signals that control the throat muscles
the shape of your head and neck

Now you need to call a doctor and tell him/her all condition that you are faced. Doctor will give best advice and medicines.
Avatar universal
Is anyone still checking this thread? I suffer from a similar condition to the original post, marykly, and sonic12. I have figured out a way to largely eliminate this problem, which is quite similar to sonic 12s approach. If anyone is interested in hearing about my experience let me know. P.
4 Comments
yes would love to hear it
yes would love to hear it
I'm also interested...
I would like to hear
Avatar universal
Same thing happening to me for years but only once in awhile right as I'm drifting I stop breathing. Also same thing wake up can;t open my eyes or breath;s very scary. I have been looking for patterns. And think could be related to when Im sleep deprived and or have used to much caffeine. However in the last year I have been getting frequent heart palpitations as well as days where I have shortness of breath. Some think it is allergies. Or it could be the dozens of head injuries I have had. It seems to never happen when I have Dr appointment.
1 Comments
It's usually stress and anxiety related. For me its PTSD because when I had cancer and the doctors went to put the mask on me my brain 'freaked' and 2as screaming in my head Domt put the mask on you will die. Now I either freak out as I'm dozing or wake up in the night gasping for breath like my brain keeps reliving that moment. Stress and anxiety of any kind can set this reaction off
Have an Answer?
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Healing home remedies for common ailments
Dr. Steven Park reveals 5 reasons why breathing through your nose could change your life
Want to wake up rested and refreshed?
Smoking substitute may not provide such a healthy swap, after all.
How to lower your heart attack risk.
Trying to lose weight? Grab a snack that works with your diet, not against it. Check out these delicious, slimming foods.