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Scary central apnea, what to do?
#11
Hi, mangosplums.

Scary dreams! The (relatively) good news is that there's technology available to monitor your blood O2 levels and your breathing to give you an idea of what's going on while you're sleeping.

Some people on this forum use a recording pulse oximeter like the Contec CMS50D+ or the CMS50I to record their blood O2 levels while they sleep. The data from those particular models can be imported into the free SleepyHead software (link at top of page.) and synced with data from a CPAP machine.

SleepyHead lets you see a graph of your breathing flow rate for the whole time the CPAP machine is on. If you're not wanting to import the O2 and pulse data to SleepyHead, there are also several pulse oximeters out there that interface with smartphones and tablets.

I can't say for sure that your dreams will go away with CPAP therapy, but difficulty with breathing and low blood O2 levels do often cause bad dreams as our body tries to interpret the sensations.

If you have a sleep doctor or a primary care doctor who listens, it could be good to have a talk with them and make sure they know you're having these dreams.

The fact that you have the dreams when not on your back may be a little unusual. Obstructive sleep apnea tends to be worse when sleeping on our backs compared to sleeping on our sides. Another time when obstructive sleep apnea is bad for some people, though, is in REM sleep.

So I hope that you'll use your CPAP machine since you've been diagnosed with obstructive apnea. In addition to providing enough pressure to eliminate your obstructive apneas, it's a terrific data collection tool.

Welcome

P.S. I'm editing this to add that I originally misread your posts and thought you already had a CPAP machine. Since you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, I hope that you will get a CPAP machine - a data-capable, preferably auto-adjusting one (as compared to a fixed pressure one). Then you'll be treating your apnea (which may turn out to be the cause of your dreams) and you'll be collecting data at the same time.

(08-15-2016, 07:42 PM)mangosplums Wrote: Hi,

I am really desperate and looking to see if anyone has experienced what I have and if they have any answers.

In the past few years when I go to sleep on my stomach or my side (which I've slept on my whole life), as I'm asleep and dreaming, I will suddenly experience the sensation that something is sitting on top of my chest, preventing me from breathing. I am a very lucid dreamer, and what happens is I'll be dreaming, I'll start to be unable to breathe, that sensation will incorporated into the dream. I will dream something is lying on my chest, or I'm underwater and drowning. I can feel myself losing oxygen and I try to to breathe, but I can't. It feels like I'm dying. I try as hard as I can to wake myself up, and after a very scary struggle, eventually I can wake myself up, but it feels like I come close to death each time. I now sleep on my back because it rarely happens on my back, but it's very hard to sleep on my back, and I don't get a good or deep sleep. This might only happen once a night, but it is so severe, and so horrible. It feels like if I hadn't consciously struggled to wake myself, I would have died. It feels like I go without oxygen for a very long time.

I have had a sleep study done, but it didn't happen during the sleep study. I was too scared to sleep on my stomach or side. Stupid, I know, I wasted that study. I then got another sleep study done, but I had trouble falling asleep and was only asleep for a few hours, and again it didn't happen.

I don't know what to do. I need to get this documented, because it is so severe, but I'm afraid the insurance company is not going cover another study. Has anyone else experienced this? I have never heard of anyone having the specific symptoms that I have. It is ruining my life, and makes going to sleep every night a scary experience.

Thank you to anyone who answers.

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#12
Mangosplums,
Hope you had a better sleep last night, but just wanted to add a couple thoughts.

I know you said if you sleep on your back, the "scary dreams" don't occur. But for sleep apnea, the best position would be any position that is NOT on your back.

Until you find a resolution, if able, try to sleep with your head a little elevated.

I went back and reread this thread and everyone's responses, and the one that stood out to me was Paula's post #7. Go back and read it.

Your Thread Title suggests that you think this has something to do with Cental Apneas or what we call clear airway events. With Centeal events, you would not be breathing and probably not be aware of it.

You may find that this an obstructive event, and her suggestion to try and rent an Apap is a good one. Ask your doctor.

You can then download our free SleepyHead software, and you will be able to see your breathing pattern during the night. We can help you interpreting the graphs, and you will be able to see if you have stopped breathing during the night.

The positive news is that most of us who have responded to you have experienced some form of these scary dreams, or night terrors, and I think the concensus is that this will resolve itself with proper Cpap therapy.



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#13
With centrals your brain does not try and breathe, with obstructive you are trying to breathe but cannot-this would tend to cause panic. By the way, my O2 has never dropped below 88% and only a very short time even below 92%, so the dreams can be triggered just by not breathing without a drop in O2 to a scary level.
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#14
Thank you everyone for your responses. I am really glad to hear that people who have had similar experiences had them go away with CPAP. I will definitely go to the doctor and ask to try it. I will also look into the other advice.
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#15
Hi mangosplums,
WELCOME! to the forum.!
I wish you luck with getting a CPAP machine to try.
trish6hundred
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#16
(08-15-2016, 07:42 PM)mangosplums Wrote: Hi,

I am really desperate and looking to see if anyone has experienced what I have and if they have any answers.

In the past few years when I go to sleep on my stomach or my side (which I've slept on my whole life), as I'm asleep and dreaming, I will suddenly experience the sensation that something is sitting on top of my chest, preventing me from breathing. I am a very lucid dreamer, and what happens is I'll be dreaming, I'll start to be unable to breathe, that sensation will incorporated into the dream. I will dream something is lying on my chest, or I'm underwater and drowning. I can feel myself losing oxygen and I try to to breathe, but I can't. It feels like I'm dying. I try as hard as I can to wake myself up, and after a very scary struggle, eventually I can wake myself up, but it feels like I come close to death each time. I now sleep on my back because it rarely happens on my back, but it's very hard to sleep on my back, and I don't get a good or deep sleep. This might only happen once a night, but it is so severe, and so horrible. It feels like if I hadn't consciously struggled to wake myself, I would have died. It feels like I go without oxygen for a very long time.

I have had a sleep study done, but it didn't happen during the sleep study. I was too scared to sleep on my stomach or side. Stupid, I know, I wasted that study. I then got another sleep study done, but I had trouble falling asleep and was only asleep for a few hours, and again it didn't happen.

I don't know what to do. I need to get this documented, because it is so severe, but I'm afraid the insurance company is not going cover another study. Has anyone else experienced this? I have never heard of anyone having the specific symptoms that I have. It is ruining my life, and makes going to sleep every night a scary experience.

Thank you to anyone who answers.

Whatever is happening, it is real to you!

The trouble with panic is that it becomes difficult to sort out psychological issues from physiological issues. Panic really messes with a person. I am with you there. I suffered from panic attacks for years, fearing cardiac problems. The cardiac problems were actually panic attacks. It became a big, self-fulfilling circle. And, in my case, what was underlying everything was untreated sleep apnea.

Needless to say, a good Internist seems important, to help you sort all this out. There are positional cardiac issues, respiratory drive issues, allergy issues, hormonal issues, anxiety issues, and a zillion other issues that could be contributing to your perception of a breathing problem. Some people have empty nose syndrome (look that one up!).

If you are truly scared that you are not breathing, you could pick up a pulse oximeter to check your SpO2. They are cheap now. Some even alarm if your oxygen levels drop below a set point.

Just know that the people on this forum have experienced it all and heard it all. Someone is always there with you on your journey.

Crying-into-tissue
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