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Waking Up After ~90 Minutes with Strange Head Sensation
Waking Up After ~90 Minutes with Strange Head Sensation
Hi Everyone,

I've been using my Philips Dreamstation 1 (I know it's on recall, what a palaver trying to get a replacement) since 2019. I bought the unit out of pocket after an at-home sleep study showed mild OSA. I have been able to tolerate it as well as one can since then. 

My OSA is predominantly REM-based. It's not unusual for me to wake up during my REM sleep periods. The CPAP doesn't really prevent that from happening for me.

Starting in December, this REM waking issue has gotten worse. I wake up consistently 90-120 minutes after I (easily) fall asleep. Now, though, when I wake, my head has this crazy feeling. It's centered around my brow line at the front on my brain. It's hard to explain the sensation as it's unlike anything I've felt before. It's like bees are buzzing in my brain, or like someone is tickling my brain to the point of extreme unpleasantness. It makes me wince, but it's not always associated with a headache.

I have to get out of bed and sit on the sofa for up to an hour before the feeling subsides enough for me to fall back asleep. I cannot stay horizontal and return to sleep. If I wake up again after returning to bed, I don't get this sensation again to the same severity. The feeling, although diminished, follows me into the next day and diminishes as the day goes on, only to happen again the next night. This happens with or without the CPAP.

I have an spO2 sensor on my bedside table. Upon waking, my oxygen level is fine, around 98-99%, and my pulse is normal at around 60 bpm. So, it's not a panic attack or anything like that. My blood pressure is also fine: around 100-110 over 60-70. I'm on BP meds, but I didn't start them or stop them when this sensation started. 

Has anyone experienced something like this? It's a bit scary. Does it sound OSA related?
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RE: Waking Up After ~90 Minutes with Strange Head Sensation
Hello MickTravis.  I experienced a "buzzing" sensation upon waking up.  Please read the 1st post in my thread.  It seemed to always happen right when I woke up during the night.  I woke up about every 2 hours or so also.  It felt like a vibrating or even pulsating feeling in my chest, back of my head and neck, and left arm.  It has become much less since using the Evo ventilator.  Now only in my chest area and much less frequent and less intense.  

I had a heart monitor that showed I was in perfect heart rhythm while these "buzzing" events happened.  SPO2 was normal also.  Upon waking and breathing for a few minutes, mine went away.  Only occurred when I would wake up from sleep during the night. 

Last year, a few times I noticed them right as I was falling asleep also.  I have never experienced them when awake during the day.  

I have done a lot of research and racked my brain and asked many people about this, but the best I can understand right now at this current time is that my brain is slightly "misfiring" when this buzzing occurs.  A person has to switch from conscious breathing to unconscious breathing (and then back when waking up).  The transition is somehow flawed at times I guess.  I have read where people sense vibrations in their bodies, see flashes of light, hear sounds, when the brain does not perfectly 100% transition smoothly here back and forth.  The most common is to feel a "jolt" just before falling asleep.  A term called sleep-wake junk (SWJ) has been used here with many more variations than just this one.  

During REM my breathing rate once fell very low (5 per minute is lowest recorded) without using a ventilator (and then up to 45 breaths a minute maximum recovering from the lows). Not sure exactly what happens in REM sleep (can be unpredictable and different for people).  Not sure if REM causes the buzzing.  

My advice would be to let as many people know about as possible as a precautionary measure (PCP, Cardiologist - if have one; sleep Doc, etc.).  Maybe someone will find a definitive answer to this.
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RE: Waking Up After ~90 Minutes with Strange Head Sensation
Hi Jay51,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Mine is just in the front part of my head and takes quite a while to dissipate after waking.

I was reading somewhere that it could be due to sinus inflammation. Apparently, sinus cavities that are inflamed can trap pressurized air from the CPAP and cause similar sensations to what I'm experiencing in the same location. I'm not sure why that's happening all of a sudden, but when I didn't use my CPAP last night, the sensation did not occur. Of course, I woke up a bunch, probably due to OSA, but it wasn't uncomfortable, at least.

I think I'm going to stay of the CPAP for a while, especially since I'm desperate to get a replacement for the Dreamstation, which is on recall. Who knows what that model is doing to my sinuses.
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RE: Waking Up After ~90 Minutes with Strange Head Sensation
Wow. Your story sounds So similar to mine!
1997: mild "chest vibration" and shaking legs on waking. Slept outside a moldy/dusty furnace room for months. Diagnosed with severe dust/mold allergies the same year: Vancenase corticosteroid (no longer available in Canada) was prescribed. When i used it once, the "flutter" and chills disappeared and i slept through for the first time in six months!
2005: Diagnosed with "sleep apnea" via Clinic. Refused to do it.
2011: Started getting very sick with "narcolepsy" and extreme fatigue. Couldn't sleep at all. Gave in and saw Dr Kenny Pang, a famous Sleep Specialist (living in Singapore). Bought a Respironics System One Auto-Bipap machine and started using it. After many struggles, got used to the machine and began sleeping for 7-8 hours every night.
2020: The "flutter"/chest vibration (sometimes it seems to be in my mind - not in my chest) had not completely gone away (but was it right of me to assume sleep apnea is the cause of it??
So, i went for a third sleep study. For some strange reason, the same clinic I had gone to in 2005 which diagnosed me with an AHI of 23, now said "you don't have sleep apnea".

What do i do now? If they are right, then what was i treating since 2011? I had the hallmark symptoms -- falling asleep at work or during the day; and a feeling of dread as the "flutter" starts, just as i am dropping off to nap. So, because i still had the "flutter" and the symptoms of "sleep apnea," i bought a Resmed Aire10 For Her (i am a guy; but the clinic said this machine was fine. I disagree -- the manufacturer clearly states that the algorithm used in these machines is "designed for women."

Continuing to use the machine, every now and again, i get a resurgence of a "flutter" which prevents me from falling asleep (mentioned above). I believe we're experiencing the same sort of thing: "symptoms" that are caused by disordered breathing.

My symptoms (which also cause me achy back-ache, some kind of chest discomfort (not really pain), and a pounding heart rate and high blood pressure (if i fall asleep without the mask on) actually do come and go; they are not chronic. But, they have robbed many useful years of my life over anxiety. I have lost two, maybe three jobs (one with HP) because of this "flutter" and it's sequalae.

The reason I say the above with such certainty is that i am very sensitive to environmental pollutants and toxins (mercury amalgams in particular, I am sure) and, i can pinpoint the time and place where my "flutter" started. Each of those episodes of "flutter" followed by high heart rate, high blood pressure, etc. has eventually subsided, once the Ketacholamines / Adgrernic have dissipated (seems this can take weeks or longer!), i know i will be OK.

I hope i have helped you with my post. Have you been able to find the cause, yet?

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