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Dream suffocation

  1. Aug 6, 2009 #1
    Every once in a while I'll have a dream where I'm having trouble breathing. I'll breath in, but it's really hard to get air. I think it's really happening to me and it's just being incorporated into my dream. Like when I have to urinate really badly, it gets incorporated into my dreams and no matter how much I pee, it's not relieving the pain.
    I thought maybe I was sleeping face down in my pillow, but this morning it happened and I was facing the ceiling when it woke me up.
    Anyone else experience this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 6, 2009 #2


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    Sounds scary. Do you know if you have sleep apnea? Do you snore?
  4. Aug 6, 2009 #3


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    When my COPD first took a really bad turn, it happened to me. In my case, though, I still couldn't breathe when I woke up. Now that I'm on a couple of inhalers, my sleep is very peaceful.
    Lisab's suggestion of apnea is very possible as well. W has it, which I know for a fact after sleeping with her for 4 years, but won't even considering asking her doctor about it and just pretends that it isn't there. Her breathing becomes progressively ragged over the course of a couple of minutes, then she just quits breathing completely for anywhere from 20 - 40 seconds, then starts over. And she wonders why she's usually tired. :rolleyes:
  5. Aug 6, 2009 #4
    Sleep apnea not out of the question but...You saying that you feel as though its REALLY happening to you makes me assume that the dream is lucid, and your concious. Have you ever tried mentally making yourself wake up? There are several sleep paralysis conditions where your concious and your still in your dream/nightmare yet you can't control your body or force yourself to move etc.

    You should go and talk to a doctor about this.
  6. Aug 6, 2009 #5
    Yeah I second what lisab said. You may be suffocating for real. I had a dream last night
    where my left shoulder was in intense pain. I have a tendency to lay in strange positions
    when I sleep, so I must've triggered that pain by laying on (or overstretching or tightening up)
    my left shoulder.
  7. Aug 6, 2009 #6
    I would recommend an anti snore pillow.
  8. Aug 6, 2009 #7

    Ben Niehoff

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    Once when I was a kid I had a very lucid dream that I was drowning, slowly sinking face-up in a huge swimming pool. At the time I had a big fear of pools, especially the deep end, because I couldn't swim. Anyway, I finally woke up, and realized that I hadn't been breathing. And I was lying face-up on my pillow.

    Never had anything like that since then, though.
  9. Aug 6, 2009 #8


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    Did you ever learn to swim?
  10. Aug 6, 2009 #9
    Yeah this is what it sounds like to me. Some sort of sleep paralysis anyways OP shud see a doctor about this situation...

    @ben did u ever learn to swim :D
  11. Aug 6, 2009 #10
    A sleep specialist may be able to condition your breathing and and dreams by biofeedback to rid you of your fear.

    Your experience might involve "lucid dreaming." Once upon a time it was thought that an "Incubus" (a demon) would sit on the dreamer's chest.

    Remember that breathing is semiconscious, and that some of us have difficulty maintaining its rhythm while asleep.

    If you are more than 20% overweight, you might consider sleep apnea; COPD if you have smoked.

    When I was a kid I would have hellacious nightmares which I could only get out of by holding my breath, whiting out, and hopefully waking up.
  12. Aug 7, 2009 #11

    Ben Niehoff

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    I'm not a very strong swimmer...if you drop me in the middle of a lake, I won't make it out. But I have no issue with pools...and I like jumping in the deep end and swimming underwater if I can wear goggles (chlorine seriously stings my eyes).

    And floating on my back freaks me out. I can only float face-down. :P

    Loren Booda, are you replying to me? I don't have these dreams anymore...it only happened once, over 15 years ago. I occasionally have lucid dreams, but no trouble breathing. And when I do have lucid dreams, I'm always aware that I can just wake up, so that's what I do if I don't like what's going on. Anyway, I've never smoked, and I'm a skinny guy.
  13. Aug 7, 2009 #12
    I occasionally suffer from sleep paralysis. During these I will occasionally have the feeling that I can not breath very well but it is not central to the experience. Also, the only time this happens to me is when I sleep on my back. It never happens when I sleep on my stomach or side.
  14. Aug 7, 2009 #13
    I've had a coupla those a few years back. They are frightening. You become consciously
    aware that you cannot move and you start hearing weird things.
  15. Aug 7, 2009 #14
    Yeah, and sometimes people even become conciously aware of things around them but are unable to force themselves to interact with them. Say you were in bed sleeping beside your significant other. You would know that they were there and how they were laying down etc. but you wouldn't be able to yell out for them to help you or tap them .
  16. Aug 7, 2009 #15

    Mine was more of a general, yet eclectic response to Leroy's lead. Your experience is pertinent to parts of what I say.
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