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I think I stopped breathing!


Merrill
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This is hard to describe, but during the night last night, in the early morning hours, I went from sleeping soundly to sitting bolt upright gasping for air...sort of coughing, gagging, pulling at the air. Of course my heart was racing, and I could feel the blood rush, pooling into my legs (as I had swung them over the side of the bed). VERY strange and extraordinarily scary. This has never happened before (though I'm no stranger to intrerupted sleep as well as insomnia). Anyone know what could have happened there? Thanks,

Merrill

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That sounds like what I go through when I have an asthma attack...although I get mostly the coughing and then I can't pull in enough breath... I've coughed so hard it made me throw up. Mine usually hits me in the middle of the night too.

nina

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Merrill-

I am so sorry to hear you have had such a terrible experience. Have you had a sleep study to determine if you may suffer from sleep apnea? What kind of medications are you on? Some sleeping aids can really 'weaken' your respiratory system.

I hope this is a one-time thing for you. Best,

Dan

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Thanks for writing back so quickly! You guys are up and at 'em early!

I'm not taking any medications... tho last night at 1 am I took 1/2 of one tylenol pm b/c I slept 2 hours and woke up, unable to go back to sleep. (I've done that about once a month, maybe two, for a few years with no ill effects. It's such a teeny dose but enough to take the edge off the chatter and calm me down.)

I haven't had a sleep study done, but I'm increasingly curious about doing so, especially after reading about them--and the difficulties POTS people have with sleep--on this site. (I wonder too, though, whether the findings would only make me more worried about my sleeping--are there no-drug treatments for sleep apnea or other disturbances? I'm about to go through in vitro again...)

In addition to this (oh, please G-d let this be a one-time thing!) I have been having other annoying symptoms during sleep, most notably numb hands and arms that wake me up (or I just wake up frequently and realize my hand/s and/or arm/s are totally dead). Grrr....

Thanks, all.

m

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Hi again.

I had a sleep study performed quite a while ago and it was determined that I had 'very mild' sleep apnea. I am not too concerned, as I was on a high dose of meds a the time that seemed to be the cause and have recently begun tapering off.

The most common treatment for sleep apnea - assuming that is your problem - is the use of a machine called a CPAP. It is basically a very small mask that you wear over your nose and/or mouth that gently forces air into your lungs to make sure you don't stop breathing during the night. I don't use one, but I had two sleep studies. One without a CPAP and one with. They prescribed one for me (Its in my closet), but I have not needed it.

The most important thing you will learn from a sleep study is whether or not you actually have periods where you do stop breathing temporarily during the night. Many people have this condition and are not even aware of it, unless they wake up gasping for air like you did or just move around enough so that they start breathing again.

As for the numbness, I used to get this and was told it was another symptom of Dysautonomia probably caused by decreased blood circulation. Fun, isn't it? Hope you feel better,

Dan

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At the onset of my illness I had 3 or 4 nights where I woke up doing exactly what you describe and I was terrified. I never mentioned it to the doctors since I thought they would just say it was anxiety or something. Months later I read about sleep apnea and it sure sounded like what I had. I also read that you can have night time panic attacks which symptom- wise are pretty much the same. I was so frightened at the time, having been just diagnosed with POTS, that I think it could have been one or the other. The good thing is that I have never had it since. I hope this is the same for you.

The numbness during sleep I think is common to ANS. I used to get it very frequently at night. My doctors did all the tests to eliminate other causes and decided it must be related to POTS although no idea why. I rarely get it any more unless I am really fatigued.

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Dear Merrill,

It is too bad that you had to go through that. I have awakened many times in the night like that. Sometimes I actually scream when I jerk awake and then have to take in a huge breath. Because I have had this repeatedly, I did have a sleep study done several years ago. I was told I don't have sleep apena, but that I don't sleep efficiently. I suppose that is common in people with chronic fatigue. They didn't suggest anything to help with my inefficient sleep problem. Now, I think the sleep studies are much more sophisticated and they can tell you more about how you sleep than they could back then.

Anyway, if I were you, I would ask my doctor and see if he/she thinks a sleep study is in order. Like most symptoms, it can probably have more than one cause.

Having a ragged autonomic system can sure be tough sometimes.

Michigan Jan

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Merrill

I had all the symptoms you are describing last year, when my POTS symptoms were at their worst. I know how frightening it is. I would dream that I was underwater or in some situation where it was hard or impossible to breathe, and then I would wake up, actually feeling like I couldn't get enough breath. It would pass quickly. I don't experience that anymore. Hopefully this is something passing for you too.

I also would wake up with numbness of hands, arms, neck, back of head, chest. Terrible feeling.

I don't have those symptoms now, a year or so later, but I do wake up at night sometimes with strange sensations--heaviness in my chest, primarily, that I can only attribute to blood still pooling inappropriately.

Katherine

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:) what a scary thing. i do it a lot, especially at night, but when i'm especially tired i do it during the day or eve too. just can't get enough air. i find it's much worse when i'm on my cardiac drugs, not sure why. i never seem to have it, when i'm not. i did notice a peculiar thing last night. i am on a heart event monitor and last night i was feeling sob and just weird like when i can't breathe, so i pushed the button. when i played it back my heart rate was in the 60's. now most people would say so what, but my heart rate is normally around 90-100. so that's 40 less beats per minute. which is a lot if that's what your heart is used to pumping. which makes me wonder what it is when i'm sleeping and if that's why i wake up so much. hmmmmmm morgan
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Morgan -- couple thoughts -- re: numbness -- I once had my right hand go so dead that it could not feel that it was being touched by the left ... my left could feel the dead right hand, though, and I thought I was living a horror movie. Scared the ***** out of me! It hasn't again been quite that "dead," but yes, numb, very very numb. Both arms/hand. Yech.

My daytime heart rate is typically higher than yours -- much -- but my holter showed a nighttime low of 67 bpm. The drop in heart rate during sleep is normal for everyone ... and for people like us with pots and high heart rates during the day, it's normal too; the drop in heart rate is what helps to distinguish us from inappropriate sinus tachycardia patients.

I wouldn't think the slowing of the heart would wake us up... Dreams, yes!!! Maybe our brains are processing and integrating all the physical crap we go through--and it's enough to wake us up with full-blown symptoms! What a pain, huh?

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