Unable to breathe upon falling asleep

Patient : Hello, my name is Kalie. I am a 21 year old female weighing about 112 lbs at 5"4. Since my first year of high school, I've had difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Some nights I would wake up abruptly short of breath and gasping. As it went on I'd notice that in the moment I started falling asleep, I would stop breathing. I would breathe out but not back in. It has gotten worse but occurs less frequently (my last fit was in Februrary and it lasted about five hours.) Then last night I went to bed around midnight and after ten minutes I would wake up gasping. My heart rate felt slow and weak as well. My body also felt almost numb and tingly. It is now 9am and I'm still unable to fall asleep because I'm not breathing normally. Is there any way you could tell me what's going on? Should I be concerned? Are there any methods I could use to actually fall asleep?
Symptoms:  Shortness of breath imediately upon falling asleep interrupting sleep, unable to fall asleep
Doctor :   Hello, Thanks for choosing "Ask The Doctor" for posting your query. The symptom that you are describing coul d be a sleep apnoea or it could be an anxiety disorder. This needs to be differentiated and this can be done a sleep study test called polysomnography which will monitor your entire sleep cycle. If sleep apnoea is present then proper therapies like lifestyle changes and C-pap can be used for treating sleep apnoea. If its not then proper therapies for anxiety disorder like paroxetine or escitalopram along with relaxation therapy can be useful. So you need to discuss the above mentioned issues with your treating doctor. Hope I am able to answer your concerns. If you have any further query, I would be glad to help you in future. Wish you good health!

Related Q&A

Q: Hi, good afternoon. I'm 28 years old male and i'm suffering from sleep problem. This sleep problem was started when i...

Q: Can you take delsym and a sleep aid

Q: I have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. I have CPAP and my AHI is between 1 and 3 most nights. CPAP hasn't improved m...

Q: Hi am having trouble getting to sleep as my chest is tight,cant get my breath,peak flows are no higher than 250 &...

Q: I took 6 unisom pills by accident. I have taken 3 before i forgot and took another 3.


Dr. James Obaji M.D.

  • 247 Reviews
  • Family Physician

Dr. Suneel Sharman M.D.

  • 190 Reviews
  • Family Physician

Dr. Pat Golden M.D.

  • 169 Reviews
  • Cardiologist

Dr. Kunaal Jindal M.D.

  • 112 Reviews
  • Plastic Surgeon