Medical Questions > Mental Health > Sleep Disorders Forum

Gasping for air on sleep onset...

Never been a great sleeper. I get sleep paralysis so much Im used to it. If someone tries to wake me up in middle of the night I panic and scream. In the last few months & specifically the last 2 days something scary is happening.

1) I chew tobacco, can a day, (trying to stop)
2) I have spinal injuries I take pain killers for.
3) Get acid reflux periodically
4) Have had anxiety & panic attacks growing up.

Current issue: As soon as Im about to fall asleep I kind of "realize" it. I also feel like Im not breathing. In a quick burst I will gasp for air & sometimes yell to bring back awakefulness. I read that you naturally stop breathing for a bit before you fall asleep. I think its in that timeframe that I notice it and gasp for air in a panic.

I really dont think its sleep apnea, but maybe it is. I dont have insurance but I have extra $ saved up, plus I might be getting insurance soon.

Ive gotten like 0 sleep in the last 2 night because of this.
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replied April 26th, 2013
Still Gasping for air? I am!
Have you figured out whats causing it? I've had the same issue since I came home from Afghanistan in '08. What have the docs said to you?
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replied April 26th, 2013
Active User, very eHealthy
Sounds to me like excessive stress and anxiety could be playing a role.

Chronic stress and excessive levels of anxiety can put you into a hyperaroused state that makes sleep more difficult. As you begin to drift off, you may find that you are suddenly jerked awake, with your heart pounding. You might find yourself awakened in the middle of the night with this, perhaps soaked in sweat. It's more common than you might think.

It's not normal to stop breathing before sleep. What normally happens is your respiration rate becomes deeper and slower as you transition from wakefulness to sleep. This is what EEGs used in sleep studies show.

If you think your breathing actually stops, you should be checked for sleep apnea, which is treatable.

Chronic stress and excessive anxiety are also treatable. Learning healthy ways to manage them might help a lot with this issue.
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