Feels Like My Heart Stops, I Jolt Awake. Extremely Terrifying

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JujuBird

This happens to me as well. I do not suffer from PTSD. But I do suffer from anxiety. I am going to start a journal. As I lay in bed about to fall asleep. I startle awake with the feeling that I wasn't breathing. Then my heart rate goes up. This happenes several times before I finally fall asleep. This happened to me the other night right after I came home from playing soccer. I was having asthma symptoms so I took a breathing treatment. Then had to take xanex for anxiety. Then the sleep jolt/not breathing thing happened (again). I have read that cortisol levels change as we lie down. And it's possible stress can be a factor. My dr. Suggested a sleep center for apnea but because this only happens to me while I'm trying to fall asleep I'm positive it's not that. Sorry you are all going through this. It's very scary. Sometimes I'm scared I won't wake up. But I do everytime! It's got to be stress. Take care.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
My dr. Suggested a sleep center for apnea but because this only happens to me while I'm trying to fall asleep I'm positive it's not that.
I am not a doctor.
But this could be sleep apnea. And it is worth ruling it out, if your insurance will cover the study.
As I lay in bed about to fall asleep. I startle awake with the feeling that I wasn't breathing. Then my heart rate goes up. This happenes several times before I finally fall asleep.
Not to oversimplify, but you might be startling awake with actually not breathing. Apnea is flexible, and can occur in any of the sleep stages.
I was having asthma symptoms so I took a breathing treatment. Then had to take xanex for anxiety. Then the sleep jolt/not breathing thing happened (again).
Since the more common cause of apnea is the relaxing of the throat muscles, use of any type of sedating medication can easily provoke it.
I hope you consider having the sleep study done. Like I said, if nothing else, to medically rule out apnea.
 
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Jean1213

I have also been experiencing these symptoms and it's happening more frequently. Also have the sensation like we are having an earthquake, like the couch or bed is vibrating. I jolted awake abot 5 times last night, now I'm exhausted
 
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anonymous coward

Thank god I read this forum. Last night, I was falling asleep, after being awake more than normal the prior day. (I woke up at 5:30 am for a flight and got to bed at 1:30 am. As i lay trying to sleep on my left side, I was drifting deeper and suddenly, my heart stopped, and I felt a strong sinking feeling, into a blackness, and it felt like i just got lucky and didn't bit the big one. I was scared shitless, and while usually having the same as everyone else, it's so scary. I also sometimes fall asleep, then wake up, bolt upright in bed and it freaks me out. Also, i've been sleeping, and then panic, feel like I'm going to pass out, and i run to the door, but in a panicked fog, until i open my door and come to my senses. Crazy!
 

LuckyDuck

MyPTSD Pro
I go through it too. It also happens when I'm awake.

I had a halter monitor last year because I talked to my doctor about symptoms (diodes and stuff to monitor the heart for 3 days) and I was told it wasn't a cardiovascular issue, but for me a stress issue. I'm having to work more on relaxation techniques. It doesn't get rid of them completely, but what it does is lessen the symptoms. My working on relaxation helps in the long run, like 20 years down the road.

I hope you find a good way to cope with this, OP, and well, everyone else who's said they have it.
 
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reanimatearts

I experienced this after having the flu. There were two nights that I felt like I didn't get any sleep at all. I would close my eyes and feel myself starting to fall asleep and then at the moment where I should have dozed off I would feel a jolt and be immediately awakened. My pulse would be racing and I kept thinking that it had something to do with my heart. I too looked on different forums about this because I was really worried about it. Then I found an interesting answer. I don't remember where I found it, but I am so grateful to that person now. Hopefully this might help some of you out there. I took several things, but I think the thing that I will attribute to fixing my problem of sleeplessness was sea kelp (iodine). I also took St. John's Wart, Astragalus, and Tumeric. I'm not sure if it was a combination of any or all? But I have a feeling that I was low on iodine and that the Sea Kelp alone helped me. Give it a shot at least! It also helps, like others have said, to be relaxed! Good luck!
 
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allen1985

Where to begin...ill keep it short. I have a 20+ year history of the worst panic attacks on earth...for no reason. I have dealt with the jolted awake with no heartbeat thing for at least 8 years now...sometime what seems like 30 consecutive episodes before finally reaching the safety of sleep...sometimes once. I've tried mentally associating the two and considering it a 'fight or flight' reaction while falling asleep...but after this many years I have developed many other symptoms..arrythmia all day, high blood pressure, extreme fatigue(even though this only affects the begin stages of falling asleep) I've been to an exceptional amount of specialists who have conducted copious amounts if tests...only to tell me they've never heard of this...or to chuckle...or to say MAYBE I'm more aware of my heart when falling asleep...which had is absurd..im not concious to be aware of it when this occurs. I sure hope that someday there is a term accompanied by a cure for this bastard of a condition...it has ruined my life and increased my anxiety...not the other way around. I'm sure of that. Everyone gets anxious and stressed...not many report their hearts stopping while falling asleep...think on that. Anxiety and stress simply cast a drs. Lack of knowledge onto the patient.
 
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Dearhollylorette

Hi sad dreamer
This exact thing has been happening to me. Did you find any answers?
Thanks!
Holly
 
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Nellyg1

Hi,I also gets this.im just about to drift off to sleep then all of a sudden I jolt up thinking I'm dying or my hearts stopped beating, im quite relaxed before I go to sleep so not sure why this happens automatic.
Is there any medication to help.?
 
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RobertR1985

I'm not a doctor but I'm going to help EVERYONE on this forum NOW to help them from these symptoms. I've suffered panic and anxiety attacks for over 6 months now and while they're not as long as some others on this forum, I too became agitated of being jerked awake. First and formost, you NEED to tell yourself "I AM AT PEACE". This one sentence works more than you can know. Your heart is FINE! Also, if you are on the heavier side (like me) our bellies will lay against our rib cage and lungs creating pressure which may make it harder to breathe. Raise your bed a bit on one side so you are laying down at a slight angle. This will help tremendously. Secondly, turn off all cell phones, computers, TVs etc when you go to sleep. No stimulation of any kind before you go to bed. Finally, the MOST IMPORTANT....maintain a healthy diet and try to exercise 30 minutes a day. Nuts, salads, fish, fruits, veggies, etc are all healthy. Take a multivitamin too. Try all of these things for two weeks and I promise your anxiety and sleep problems will slowly go away
 
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