Problems sleeping: Regularly waking up short of breath

Patient

Q: Hi, I’m a 21 year old female.
I’m having issues during the night. I wake up within an hour or so of falling asleep panting, with my heart racing, short of breath and shaking severely. Sometimes I also have pain in my chest and/or strange sensations in my neck and head.
This repeats from between 2-10 times. I won’t sleep until 5am some nights.
It’s like torture some nights, because I’m so tired, and I drift off, but within a number of minutes I’m awake again repeating the same cycle. Each time it feels like I’m almost dying.
To me, it feels like when I lay down, certain positions are cutting off blood or air supply, and after a while this makes me sit up and regain breath. It kind of feels like it’s in my neck.
I know that part of it, if not all of it, is anxiety. To be honest, it probably all is as I have bouts of these episodes. But I can’t shake the feeling that I may have something wrong. Heart related or something.
What I really need to know is ok, which will hopefully help with my anxiety, is an issue with my neck. I’ve always felt like the right side is more pronounced. And over the last couple of years I’ve noticed that it feels like the artery on that side pumps more vigorously. When I press on the right artery at the bottom of my neck, I feel like a whooshing sometimes. And if I strain, I really feel a whooshing of blood, which I don’t on the other side. I also get pain on that side that seems to coincide with pulse, and another thing that freaks me out; I get pressure in my neck and nose, and especially ears, that I feel comes from my neck. I hear like a fluttering in my ears, that’s really annoying, and seems to coincide with my pulse again. Basically I just can’t shake the feeling, no matter how irrational, that there’s something wrong with my artery. And I really need to know that’s there’s not to deal with this sleep issue.

Symptoms:  Waking at night. Short of breath. Shaking
Doctor

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