Medical Questions > Mental Health > Sleep Disorders Forum

waking up gasping for air as I fall asleep (Page 2)

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April 26th, 2009
Have you ever had your blood pressure check. I know when you are laying down, your blood pressure is lower than when you are awake. When you go to stand up after waking up you can get very light headed because your standing up too quickly. I do not know for sure if this is your situation but if I was you, I would take a few seconds before standing up.
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replied April 27th, 2009
Thank you for your input....The few times I have had my blood pressure checked for doctor visits everything seemed to be in order. I have never experienced this under any other circumstance. Not when lying down while watching tv, napping, etc. Its tied to something with my blood pressure for sure....but what? Very strange and very scarey.
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replied April 27th, 2009
Apnea
I started having episodes last year periodically that involved me jumping up and gasping for air as soon as I fell asleep. It lasted for weeks and decided to take over the counter meds which helped a little and then it stopped. Then a year later, it started happening again, im very nervous because its a bit different this time, since i recently began snoring. I never snored until recently and the snores wake me up as soon as I fall assleep. Even with over the counter aids which are not working anymore. I don't fall asleep now until im completely exhausted.
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Users who thank DellaLuna for this post: HEWLETT11 

replied April 27th, 2009
Community Volunteer
Years ago, I used to have something like this....It is similar to a panic attack...I, too, doctored for it...The more you think about it, the more apt it is to happen...Once I, too, did black out...It is a little of everything that is troubling you...Sometimes things inside us are being triggered...Learn to relax and as the poster above stated, don't go to sleep until you are exhausted...

The most important thing for me was raising the head of our king size bed about two inches off the floor...This cut down on any reflux and for some reason kept me from waking up and not gasping for air...You see once you start doing this, you may it your own habit...Fear begets more fear and then becomes part of your life...

Work with it...Always take a bottle of water to bed with you at night in case you need it...This alone will eliminate the fear that you may choke during the night...Just outsmart the part of you that struggles with it's own insecurities...

Good luck,
Caroline
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replied April 28th, 2009
sleep apnea
have you considers that maybe its sleep apnea?
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replied May 2nd, 2009
central sleep apnea
I did consider it yes, its been going on for over a week now.
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replied May 6th, 2009
Wow...everyone is messed up lol
I thought that my symptoms were special...I guess not, after browsing through all these posts I see that we all suffer from the same things for the most part. I am convinced that it is anxiety, I've had the chest x-rays, all kinds of blood work, ekg, echo cardio gram, I did find out that I have hyperthyroidism which can cause anxiety and shortness of breath. So I'm happy with saying that it's anxiety that I suffer from...we all should be...b/c it won't kill us! When I first experienced a panic attack I went to the ER as well and was prescribed lorazepam...I took that for a month or two and quit because of it's amnesic qualities. I just talk myself through them now, or think of something really hard to get my mind off of them. The worst part of it is gasping for air at the onset of sleep...that totally feels like you're dying and then you don't want to go back to sleep but then you just pray and say if I die I hope you'll watch over me or something to that effect LOL...anyway we'll all be okay...stop wanting it to be something other than anxiety!!!
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replied May 11th, 2009
It's horrible!!!
I have had these syptoms for over five years now. It actually started when I got on anxiety medication. I started taking paxil around 21. I had anxiety all the time it never quit. I always had a hard time falling asleep before meds but I never had panic attacks or feelings of dying/not breathing as I was falling asleep.

I'm now on lexapro and I still have the same symptoms. I've actually been self medicating w/ alcohol for years now because this is the only way I can fall asleep without jerking awake.

I would love to fall asleep without self medicating but every once in a awhile when I now try it will happen to me sometimes 10-15 times before I finally fall asleep. It is a horrible feeling. And on top of that if I don't drink I sweat horribly. I will have to sleep on a towel so I can dry myself off mutiple times throughout the night. I will wake up completely drenched.

I honestly think my body has forgotten how to fall asleep on it's own. My mind freaks or something. Wish there was an answer. But I can't function during the day without my medication.

Zanax also helps me fall asleep. But much harder to get than alcohol. The sleeping medications are horrible in my experience, they almost give me more anxiety even though I fell as if I've been tranquiled. \

I never met anyone else w/ this issue, so I'm happy to hear I'm not the only one. But I feel for all of you!!!!
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replied May 17th, 2009
gasping for air when falling asleep
I have been reading these posts with great interest and am actually up at 3.04am after trying to go to sleep for two hours, but keep waking as soon as I doze off. Now this will not be for all of you, but I bet for a lot of you it is hormones. They can cause all of the above symptoms. The problem is if you get them tested and you fall within certain numbers the doctors will tell you it's not that, but your hormones only need to be out a little to make you feel crappy. Hormones fluctuations can definitely cause anxiety. If you think you are too young for it to be that, no you're probably not, you can have fluctuations for 13 years or so before menopause. Watching your caffiene intake can help. (not always necessary depending where you are in your cycle.) I have found valerian very helpful, it is natural and if you have to get up to kids during the night you won't be groggy and yet you can still get back to sleep. Of course everybody is different so it would not be for some. Also keep in mind if you got your hormones tested they could test okay because at that time they are. Google hormones or perimenopause symptoms there are 35 at least, for those of you with internal tremors, that is one of them. Hope this is helpful P.S. I am up because I have run out of Valerian (Hadn't needed them for a while)
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replied May 17th, 2009
Wake up fighting for breath
I keep waking up feeling like my heart has stopped and fight for breath realy frighting

chris
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replied July 9th, 2011
waking up at night feeling like my heart has stopped
i too had this feeling last night idk what its from but its horrible..im on medication for chest inflammation acording to the doc he says i have that..but i dont know anxiety is makin me feel much worse i feel like im dying and im scared to sleep at night
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replied May 22nd, 2009
hi
i have similar problem where im in bed trying to go to sleep then i sit up with a jolt trying to catch my breath its only momentarily but scary,i also have aproblem when trying to sleep that my leg jerks and i get a tickly crawly felingf in my left leg,and sometimes i feel like my leg is missing.weird.these problems only happen at night in bed.told its anxiety but im not convinced.
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replied May 22nd, 2009
Gasping for air
I too suffer from this and am a long time surviver of anxiety/agoraphobia. Ive had ALLL the anx. symptoms, all the worries, all the "is this the end" thoughts. I also have PTSD and grief issues and am in a highly stressful situation with an ex and alone with no living family or friends. Years ago I used to dose off in a recliner and wake up almost frozen with palps and tingling in my arms and hands. Many halter monitors later I was fine. Over the years it evolved to when I dose in the recliner just as Im about to fall asleep I gasp for air, startle awake and feel like Im trying to catch my breath thru a straw. At first I thought positional apnea but have had the ex watch me sleep and nothing weird is noticed. Have tried different pillows and positions and nope, no relief, I now know if Im going to nap in the recliner Im going to get this event just as a dose off, then usually I can fall right off to sleep afterwards. Then it started a few days ago in bed. Ive tried my side my back you name it. I alos thought allegies, dust mites etc. so got a little obsessive about washing my bed linens/pillows. No help. So Ive been on a wild reading spree and it comes down to one of 2 things...anxiety and increased stress (Im on xanax and there seems to be a debate over taking more (to relax) or less (because it causes the muscles to relax including your esophogas) The other thing that seems to be a common thread with this gasping for air is acid indigestion or gerd (tho I and many other dont feel like they are having the burbies or anything stomach related) but they SWEAR taking a quality antiacid before bed and not eating before bed cures this. Im going to try this. I also am breath rite nasal strips dependant (lol) and even with them I get congested and sleep with my mouth open and when I get the dry mouth where ur tounge feels like sand I also startle awake. Oaisis mouthwash and spray has helped a little. But I really believe its anxiety related as when my stress level rises this gasping thing gets worse and almost makes one fearful of falling asleep. Once asleep I sleep great. But like this moring I woke up to a bad storm and everytime I tired to go back to sleep Id gasp and startle, be convinced THIS WAS IT, to the point I was in full blown panic. Because it does leave you with a weird momentary sensation of not knowing if your dead or alive-its hard to explain but if youve expereinced it you know what Im talking about. I finally dosed off only to have weird dreams.(anxiety Im sure) I say we try the antacid thing (what does it hurt, a little calsuim is good) and realize that its just another way of anxiety trying to "get us" and realzie that we are all still here worried a bit and chatting about this horrid gasping for air thing, many of you have been thru tests and docs and hosps for reassurance yet arent reassured, but yet here we all are, alive and well, able to type, perhpas dreading going to sleep, but it's obviously not going to kill any of us, info is good yes and its great to share with others and hear what docs have told them and tested them for and what works in the way of controlling it, but again, I think its just that anxiety monster in our mind having fun, and then THAT sensation spins up into panic. (and it is an awful sensation) Lets read enuf to be informed but not give our anxious imaginations too much to chew on. Wink
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replied May 28th, 2009
having similar problem, its so strange happens to me every now and again, i will wake up, not so much gasping for air, but just feeling weird, and as though my heart has stopped beating, im 24, go gym regular, so unsure how this is happening, its horrible, i dont get frightened by much, yet this makes me reach for my phone and ring people, sometimes hand and feet get tingly too
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replied June 4th, 2009
Thanks for all the sharing i read. I feel that I'm not alone with how i feel. I also had anxiety attack when i was a teen ager. Had overcome it through the years until another family crisis happened last year. I started having another anxiety attack but through prayers and priest counseling, i was able to overcome it. Right now, my problem is the episode of catching or gasping breath as i woke up. I've felt is some years ago but not as often as now. I dont have a huge problem, i just feel stressed out most of the time. I know, we all need some kind of relaxation or vacation. I hope & pray that all who suffer the way i feel will also be able to overcome this episode.
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replied June 7th, 2009
I had panic attacks really bad back in 2003. Every time I would get in my truck and drive, I would get a panic attack. They eventually went away but have been reoccurring lately in the form of waking up about 20 minutes after falling asleep in a panicked state. I find that this is less likely to happen if I go to bed on an empty stomach. The attack usually lasts for about 20-30 minutes. It's really not that big a deal, just sort of a hassle as I don't get as much sleep as I should. Knowing it is a panic attack, it is just a matter of dealing with the physical and mental sensations. I expect these panic attacks will likely go away on there own as they did back in 2003. I Hope everyone on here feels better:)
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replied June 8th, 2009
I have the same symptoms...when im trying to fall asleep i close my eyes and right when im getting ready to fall asleep i jolt up and try to catch my breath feeling like i can't breathe. My fingers and feet soometimes get tingly and i am always trying to get a full breathe. been going on for years and years now. Doc says it is my anxiety and stress but I still always think i have some terminal disease like cancer or something and am always worried about dying. I don't take meds but my roomate has some xanax just in case i need one. I want to beat this on my own. it is really scary jolting out of bed and i dread going to bed at night because of this and just want to know if this happens to other people that don't have a terminal disease. thanks
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replied June 22nd, 2009
Waking up Gasping
It's comforting to know that it's just anxiety. I don't remember this ever happening to me before, but the last few times I have tried to fall asleep, I would wake up gasping - as if I just stopped breathing. My girlfriend watched me fall asleep one night - I gasped - she said nothing was out of the ordinary, I was breathing fine - so she didn't understand why I did that. This started very recently, like two-three days ago. I had gotten sick (sore throat) which may have sparked the anxiety - because the last time I got a throat infection, I needed life-saving surgery - so no wonder I was nervous about it.

It's hard to not think of things because even when you think you aren't thinking about things - you are somewhere in the back of your mind. Try falling asleep to music, or something that will distract you - like putting the sleep timer on the TV.

I am hoping that tonight would be the first night I can actually fall asleep without taking a sleeping pill or xanax. I do suffer from sleep apnea - but this particular event has never happened before... so ....

good luck to you all.
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replied June 26th, 2009
Partial Solution: The trigger for me waking up with a panic attack seems to be indigestion. If I take 3 pepto-bismal tablets about an hour before bed and do not eat several hours before bed, I will either sleep through the night with no issues or wake up without a full blown panic attack.
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replied July 18th, 2009
I can relate. I too suffer from all of these problems. One day, you think there is a problem with your heart, but if you think about it long enough it may very well be with your stomach or your lungs. Seems you can almost move it around with your mind. Then your arms tingle and ache. The more you thinkk about it, the worse it gets until you have to get out of there or go to the ER. Then you jump awake right as you're falling asleep, gasping for air and shaking your head back and forth. This is a mentalk thing folks. We are still in the dark ages of mental health, and the doctors really don't understand it well. I think we all need to stop tobacco and alcohol, go to bed early, get up early, take a walk everyday, eat healthy, and take up a hobby. Get on top of our stress and run our own lives. I'm building a woodworking shop in my basement. I'm going to start building Adirondak chairs.
-Rome, Georgia
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replied July 27th, 2009
Do we know of anyone that has stopped tobacco and alcohol and has helped??? I see a lot of this but NO response from anyone that has tried it.
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