Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

can't sleep because of shortness of breath

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 7 Replies
  • Posted By: lizapeci
  • October 11, 2010
  • 02:08 AM

I am a girl 20 years old.my problem of sleeping is really destroying me.it is 4 am and i am still awake.well this is my problem : as soon as i go to bed to sleep and i really want to sleep, at the moment that i close my eyes and feel like i am starting to sleep, i wake up frightened because i can't breathe, i get up the bed and i feel normal again.when i try to sleep again the sam thing happens.i have almost 3 years with these symptoms, at the begining was milder than now and lasted just 1 month, then it stopped for a year and this last year i have begun to feel very badly about this.almost every night i have the same problem.there are periods when i can sleep very calm "like a lamb" for a week, but then restarts the same thing.last night i was reading a book and felt asleep calm, but at 6 am i woke up with a sensation like my blood was boiling in the head, i wasn't hot, it was just a very scary and bad sensation.after this i got panicked and began all the shortness of breath and i calmed down after 1 hour, it felt like i couldn't breath deeply and like my lungs were getting narrowed.
i don't know what causes this, but this is destroying me every day and i am really scared because this thing is getting worse.
does smb else have the same feelings?please help me.

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7 Replies:

  • What you describe is very similar to what I experience in conjunction with unusual neck problems. It took me many years to get properly tested and even now they haven't figured how best to treat it. If you have what I have--and your subjective description suggest that--you are experiencing an unusual type of sleep apnea, or at least sleep-disordered breathing, and associated neurovascular effects (my sensation is "turbulent blood flow" but it sounds like you are getting something similar; in me, it is muscle spasm and position causing "plumbing problems" so to speak). The fact that it occurs at the onset of sleep is exactly my situation too....when my neck is in spasm, it will happen over and over again at the moment of starting to fall asleep (associated w/muscle activity that can occur normally w/sleep onset).What you are feeling as your lungs closing may actually be your "airway" closing, i.e., your tongue falling back as the muscles that keep it out of the way for breathing relax when you begin to fall asleep. Alternately, you may be experiencing Central Sleep Apnea, where your brain more or less "forgets" to tell you to breath. Likely it is a combination. The good thing is...once you understand what it is, you won't be as frightened when it happens. When I have it happen now, I reposition my head/neck--sometimes I can't regain breath without sitting up, it IS quite strange to awaken and realize you not only aren't breathing, you have to struggle to "reopen" your airway--and try to make a mental note of the symptoms that accompany this. NB--this is not "classic" apnea, so you will have a hard time finding someone who can help you, but it should start w/ a sleep study (overnight in a testing facility).DO NOT LET IT BE WRITTEN OFF AS "ANXIETY" as you may be likely to find less thorough doctors are willing to do, especially as you are female and young (not the right demographic for apnea). I started having it in my early 30's when I weighed 98 lbs. (I'm also female). You do not have to be a middle-aged overweight man who drinks to have apnea and apnea is a serious health issue in and of itself, and if you have underlying issues contributing to it as I do, these need to be found and addressed.Main thing is--you are not crazy, it's real, it's serious but won't endanger you unless it continues for many years untreated (and then it's b/c of the strain on cardiovascular system). Getting scared of course does lead to a type of panic, which will make it hard to get back to sleep calmly, but trust me, when you know what it is, you will be able to stop being scared and instead be angry at the fact that doctors don't know what the &*%&# to do about it! Take care and best wishes!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • October 11, 2010
    • 04:51 AM
    • 0
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  • thanks a lot for your answers, i really appreciate when smb answers and helps me.your article was very helpful cause i feel released when not alone, and other people have the same thing as me.now what i have understood is that sometimes i sleep good when i keep the light on and i read a book before sleeping or things that keep my mind away of the fact that i am falling asleep.i think this is helping a little bit.hope it helps always.best wishes thanks :):):):)
    lizapeci 1 Replies
    • October 19, 2010
    • 07:20 PM
    • 0
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  • Glad to be of help--just wanted to add: if you are propping your head up in an awkward position while reading in bed, that can sometimes cause muscle spasms that increase the occurrence of apnea episodes (in me it does anyway!). Or perhaps you are actually in a better position for your airway when you read yourself to sleep? Just something to think about.You might want to look up the "Epworth Sleepiness Scale," a very short set of questions that is one way of evaluating the possibility that apnea is affecting your sleep quality. If you find that you're doing things like dozing off while sitting at stoplights, e.g., you really ought to talk to a doctor about getting a sleep study.I hope you feel better (and sleep well!), Best wishes...
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • October 22, 2010
    • 05:35 AM
    • 0
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  • I suggest learning the Buteyko breathing techinque.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 2, 2010
    • 10:26 AM
    • 0
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  • finally I've found a person who have the same problem! dear, it's 5 am now! and i can't sleep! i was searching in the internet about anything related to my problem, and my god, when i read your words it's exactly the same!!! i only have this problem when i want to sleep! now i'm awake writing this message and it's normal again! but i'm sleepy! and believe me if i tried to sleep i will have shortness of breath again! please tell me, did you find any cure for this problem? or at least did you know what is this problem? i would like to hear from you as soon as you can because this problem is killing me!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 14, 2010
    • 05:11 AM
    • 0
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  • I have the same problem but I've only had it for more or less a year. Mine only happens when I try to take a nap in the afternoon. When I sleep at night time my breathing is perfectly normal. I came across this page because I was trying to look for answers. I just got up from an hour of "trying to sleep". When I take an hour nap, I'd say that I only sleep for 15 minutes and the rest is just "trying to sleep". I can sleep but the shortness of breath would come 2 to 3 times per minute and that causes me to breath really fast because I'm trying to catch up on the air. Its a very uncomfortable feeling when I couldn't breathe for at least 3 seconds. I also think that this could be related to my neck and back problems. I guess I will just see a doctor. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has this problem.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • December 20, 2010
    • 02:41 AM
    • 0
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  • I had similar symptoms for three months, it was so frustrating! The doctor could come up with nothing either, he prescribed some sleeping pills, but they didn't help much other than make me super tired.What has pretty much cured my problem? Turns out my bed was on an angle so that my head was lower than my feet. I did some reading on the net, turns out some people get these symptoms when they sleep like this, shortness of breath, stuffiness, and killer headaches. All the blood rushes to your head and settles in your chest cavities. I'm actually positive it made me stop breathing on at least one account. I put risers under the head of my bed and I haven't had the problem since! It's been about a month now!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 18, 2011
    • 01:11 AM
    • 0
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