For the last few nights sleeping has been quite difficult for me. When I lay down to go to sleep I feel as if I'm not drawing in enough air, even conscious, deep inhales don't always help, I have to sit up and inhale deeply a lot to go back to normal. This always seems to be accompanied by very clear heart palpitations. Just tonight I've been in bed for an hour and a half, the closer to sleep I got the more the breathing problems persisted, I had to keep sitting up in order to feel as though I've breathed properly. I've been feeling my heart beat almost all of that time too, it was so clear that it was disturbing. I've been sitting up for about ten minutes now, my breathing seems to have returned to normal and the consciousness of my heart beat has faded away. My heart beat, which had become quite rapid at one point (might have been due to anxiety) has slowed down, I can't tell if it's completely normal or not. At one point I was wondering if I was going to stop breathing, that's the point at which I jumped out of bed and decided to just skip sleep. Also, when I'm having this issues in bed it also feels like swallowing is harder at times. Well, not exactly harder, more like I've got to make a conscious decision to swallow. When I sit up and breath for a few moments this goes away.
I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas of what could be causing these problems. Could it possibly be acid reflux? I know it can do all sorts of things, including giving one breathing problems. I have major acid reflux problems, in fact, I've pretty much constantly had heartburn for the last few days, even this prescription medicine that usually gives me some relief has been failing. I also thought about sleep apnea, I know at least a few of my family members suffer from it, but I didn't think it would manifest while one is awake.
Acid reflux CAN cause trouble breathing when lying down. Of course, it could also be a lot of other things.
It may help if you can find a way to sleep while NOT perfectly flat. Propping up your head alone is useless, though, you need your entire torso up. If you have a beanbag chair or one of those wacky pillow/chair things called a "husband" you can probably sleep while nearly sitting up. Propping up the head of the bed can also help.
These sleep-position measures can help nighttime difficulty breathing from a variety of causes.
I view this board infrequently anymore. Your symptoms spoke so clearly to me that I feel compelled to respond. I'm not a medical professional but too many years of trying to figure out my wife's health issues have made me more knowledgeable than I care to be.
The symptoms you mentioned were:
- difficulty sleeping
- not drawing enough air
- heart palpitations (might be due to anxiety)
- swallowing hard at times as symptoms materialize
The health provider my wife sees was a TMJ surgeon 30 years ago, but he was bothered about such invasive surgery for so little movement. He began to experiment with oral appliances to accomplish the nonsurgical goals with his patients. In the process, he noticed that other significant health issues disappeared or significantly diminished. He doesn't treat diseases but strives to balance the oral system. This is important because the preponderance of autonomic nerves are in the throat. His patients are hooked up to a variety of monitors during treatment, so he can immediately see how an oral device is affecting the body.
If your body is not getting enough oxygen, the autonomic system may jolt you with adrenalin (anxiety) to increase respiration. The body is a hydraulic system, and a restriction in your throat can cause pressure affecting your whole body.
In my wife's case, the dental work she had done as a youth made her mouth too small for her tongue. Consequently her tongue was constantly being forced back in her throat at night causing difficulty breathing and intense adrenalin surges accompanied by heart rate acceleration.
In my wife's case, her uvula was intermittently contacting her epiglotis, giving her severe adrenalin jolts (as if she was choking) which manifested as traumatic shaking and tremors. When she had her uvula shortened, the seizure like activity disappeared. I only mention this as an illustration of the power of the autonomic system.
There is a lot more to the story, but I feel obligated to offer a possibility. She still is not sleeping like needed. It's been like peeling back an onion skin getting to the core problem. After 25 years, we finally have confidence we are on the right track.
I have had similar symptoms and yes, I it can absolutely be caused by acid reflux.
When I had sleep trouble and my stomach was feeling acidic, I used to drink a warm glass with a teaspoon of baking soda. I would sit up in my bed for a half hour and half to burp often (sodium bicarbonate + stomach acid = C02 release), but eventually my stomach felt better and I could fall asleep. Give that a shot!
Sometimes I have this sleep problem when my stomach is NOT feeling acidic -- say, when I've eaten a lot of food but am not experiencing reflux. When that happens, drinking baking soda doesn't help my, but "purging my stomach" does. Not a fun thing to do and I'm still looking for better ideas.