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Old 08-28-2011, 02:27 PM   #1
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unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

Hello. I am a 40 year old female. I have been having terrifying sensations from my chest area when I am trying to fall asleep. This happened the first time about 4 months ago...happened for a few nights in a row about 3 times each night. Now...about a week ago, it started up again. Just as I am falling asleep...I get this very scary pulse/shock sensation that radiates from my chest area up into my neck and face. There is NO PAIN associated with these episodes at all. It happens just as I am falling asleep and I get Zapped by this feeling like my heart has stopped beating and my body tries to restart it. Well, now I know it is not my heart because I just got out of the hospital this morning and after doing the full run up on me including EKG, blood work and stress test....all they can tell me is I am having anxiety.....well DUH!!! Anyone going thru this would have anxiety....it is causing me to have anxiety.

This is by far the scariest medical thing I have ever encountered. I am going crazy because the Dr. seem to cut me off when I am trying to explain it.....like they tell me that acid reflux can cause pain when lying down if the acid goes up into the esophagus....I try to tell them that I already know what the feels like because I have had symptoms of GERD before...this feels neurological or circulatory to me....like there is some nerve or blockage involved here.

I am not able to sleep at all....every single time I close my eyes and start to drift off.....BAM, I am shocked awake. I have to take a big breath...not because I wasn't breathing, but like the breath you take when something scares the crap out of you....This happens over and over and over again until I am finally able to fall asleep in the early morning from pure exhaustion. I feel tortured. I guess I am posting here to see if anyone who has experienced something similar could give me some good news that this can be treated...because I do not want to live with the fear of not being able to sleep. I also don't like taking any type of sleeping pills or anxiety pills as they give me headaches and make me groggy. I have little children and I need to be there for them.....I have two full time jobs to support them....and this is making it hard for me to function.

 
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Old 09-05-2011, 01:17 AM   #2
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Re: unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

Maybe a sleep study?

Gerd can cause all sorts of weird nighttime symptoms, but so can sleep apnea, all the dyssomnias, sleep paralysis and hypnagogic (sleep onset) disorders.

 
Old 10-06-2011, 02:05 PM   #3
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Re: unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

This sounds like what i have. Just as i'm drifting off, i feel like my heart and breathing has stopped. Then, the only way i can describe it, is as if someone has put those paddles on me that they use to resuscitate people on my chest. I feel like i have been shocked back to life, and awake with a gasp for air. I have had all the heart checks and they tell me it is myclonic jerks. I'm still not totally satisfied tho!


many thanks
Joanne

 
Old 11-02-2012, 07:22 PM   #4
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Re: unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

Hello,

Have any of you been diagnosed with anything? I am suffering with these sensations and they are unbearable. My heart has checked out okay. I am really scared. Any insight is extremely appreciated.

Thank you

 
Old 11-15-2012, 05:09 PM   #5
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Wink Re: unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

Hi, there is a much longer thread on this subject under sleep disorders. Just type electric shock into the search bar and then scroll down to sleep disorders and you will find it. I too have this same thing for a long time now. You can view my post on that thread. Don't let it scare you too much.

 
Old 11-16-2012, 01:32 PM   #6
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Re: unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

You are probably the first person to describe EXACTLY what I have had happen! Mine was the worst last year this time. I saw so many doctors. They first ruled out heart with an echocardiogram. Heart's fine. Blood work and the standard usual stuff - all to lead me to anxiety. Then the push for anti-depressants and anxiety meds. But I wasn't having trouble during the day, just at night when trying to fall asleep. I would just about drift off then, I equated it to like a shot of adrenaline, it would start in my chest and flush up into my neck and then my breathing and heart would increase slightly. As if I was startled.

I never did find the answer. I did start reading about hormones (I'm a late 40s female). I found that when I began treating my hormone imbalance with progesterone cream (progesterone cream is the calming, opposing hormone to the more excitable estrogen) I noticed it didn't happen as much and then finally not at all. It does still happen sporadically, but not like it was last year.

You are in your 40s and your hormones are starting to fluctuate. Hopefully you won't have as much trouble as I did, but my hormones really affected my sleep. The weird adrenaline spurt when drifting off to sleep, or I'd get really hot, or my sleep seemed shallow and full of dreams. I was trying to be treated for insomnia but it was physical and it was, at least for me, hormone related.

Sorry you're dealing with it. It is a frustrating feeling. The more tired I got because of that sensation keeping me from sleeping, the worse that sensation seemed to get. I hope you can find some relief!

 
Old 08-13-2013, 02:39 PM   #7
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Re: unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

I also have the same exact feeling when I am falling asleep... I get scared because my mom died when she was 47 from mitral valve prolapse and I was also diagnosed with it but mine is very mild. Her valve was completely shot. I get mine checked every so often. I'm 48.
Don't know if its related to that?

 
Old 10-31-2013, 11:13 PM   #8
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Question Re: unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

The original writer here wrote this in 2006. I wonder if it ever went away. I am experiencing the exact same thing and have been for a couple of months. It is now 1:10 a.m. and I googled this and I must say, I laughed hysterically reading her post because she described it exactly and in such a humorous way. So, the question is, is she still alive? Or did she fly off with the 's during one of those episodes.

I have been absolutely exhausted lately! It could be stress as I have a job where I do alot of sitting (stuck energy) and have some life changes going on. But my immediate question - aside from is that lady dead or alive - is, Will I ever go to sleep tonite???
We don't know......

 
Old 11-01-2013, 07:05 AM   #9
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Re: unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

Quote:
Originally Posted by Serendity View Post
The original writer here wrote this in 2006. I wonder if it ever went away. I am experiencing the exact same thing and have been for a couple of months. It is now 1:10 a.m. and I googled this and I must say, I laughed hysterically reading her post because she described it exactly and in such a humorous way. So, the question is, is she still alive? Or did she fly off with the 's during one of those episodes.

I have been absolutely exhausted lately! It could be stress as I have a job where I do alot of sitting (stuck energy) and have some life changes going on. But my immediate question - aside from is that lady dead or alive - is, Will I ever go to sleep tonite???
We don't know......
I still have it off and on. I posted in this thread awhile ago and mine comes and goes. Though the time mine happens has changed. It no longer happens at bedtime when I'm trying to go to sleep, it happens in the late morning hours 4-5 am. Why the time change, who knows.

I have managed to pin point two things/times when it happens. The fist is hard because it's like a vicious cycle. The less sleep I get the more it happens. Could be surges of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. When you're sleepy during the day, your body will have to produce those hormones to keep you alert and awake. Maybe the body, when it's tired, doesn't know when to stop doing that and continues at night, trying to keep you alert and awake so you don't get hurt (flight or fight, survival mode).

Second for any females (and I see you are). It will happen with different times of my cycle. Mid cycle is the one I notice the most. Mid cycle your estrogen will increase. Estrogen is a very excitable hormone. Sometimes you have more estrogen than progesterone (the opposer to estrogen and the calming hormone).

Mine is like a surge of adrenaline. I'll be trying to fall asleep then it's as if something scares or startles me. My heart rate increases, although only slightly, and I catch my breath for a second. It's not apnea or my heart - I had all the tests. No doctor can tell me so I trudge on.

It's gotten less and less and like I said will happen sporadically and I now see a pattern so I don't worry too much about it. That also has helped.

I hope you get some sleep soon!!

Last edited by irisrose; 11-01-2013 at 07:07 AM.

 
Old 11-02-2013, 01:22 AM   #10
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Re: unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

"The less sleep I get the more it happens. "

I've had this same thing at times and it was always when I wasn't getting enough sleep. I would be very tired and when I fell asleep it felt like a shock to my body and I would wake up with taking a big gasp of air and this would happen over and over. I came to the conclusion that while my body was very tired, my mind perhaps still had too much activity going on for sleep. what I found worked, was firstly not to allow myself to fall straight back to sleep (it was pointless anyway). I would keep myself awake and focus on slow breathing, and I would just try to clear and relax my mind. I would do this for about 20 minutes to get my brain ready for sleep mode and then let myself fall asleep. It really worked.

Last edited by captjane; 11-02-2013 at 01:29 AM.

 
Old 11-02-2013, 08:03 AM   #11
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Re: unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

Quote:
Originally Posted by captjane View Post
"The less sleep I get the more it happens. "

I've had this same thing at times and it was always when I wasn't getting enough sleep. I would be very tired and when I fell asleep it felt like a shock to my body and I would wake up with taking a big gasp of air and this would happen over and over. I came to the conclusion that while my body was very tired, my mind perhaps still had too much activity going on for sleep. what I found worked, was firstly not to allow myself to fall straight back to sleep (it was pointless anyway). I would keep myself awake and focus on slow breathing, and I would just try to clear and relax my mind. I would do this for about 20 minutes to get my brain ready for sleep mode and then let myself fall asleep. It really worked.
That's why meditation is suggested for people with insomnia. Sometimes, when you have really bad insomnia like I have had, meditation is like trying to put out a fire with a squirt gun. But the whole idea behind it makes sense. You create stress hormones when you can't sleep, cortisol and adrenaline. Your body goes into survival mode, even if it's a night or two of poor sleep, you're tired, your body's tired and you still have to function so in comes the cortisol and adrenaline.

When you focus on your breath and clear you mind, you're basically meditating and meditation can lower stress and along with it stress hormones. Maybe a good thing for others to try.

 
Old 11-02-2013, 09:22 AM   #12
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Re: unusual terrifying sensation when falling asleep

yep, I definitely think it is to do with something being out of sync for sleep to happen, whether that is stress hormones (which makes a lot of sense) or too much brain activity. I remember reading a good book on insomnia a few years back, and one of the things that really stuck with me, and that I found most helpful out of the whole book, is that the brain doesn't just switch off and go to sleep, it goes through a winding down period first. This is why if you can't sleep and lie in bed and start thinking, you just stay awake for hours because you're keeping your brain active instead of letting it wind down to prepare for sleep. I had a big habit of doing that, and over time it's really helped to try and change that (which isn't easy because when you've done it for years it becomes so automatic) but I still actively have to settle and clear my mind to fall asleep at night a lot of the time.

Last edited by captjane; 11-02-2013 at 09:24 AM.

 
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