Waking Up Gasping For Breath Causes

April 15, 2024

If you are waking up gasping for breath, chances are it requires medical attention. While it is possible that you just had a nightmare, it is still important to consult a specialist. You may have been waking up and feeling short of breath due to sleep apnea or something completely different. Read this blog to learn more about why this is happening.

Waking Up Gasping for Breath & Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is among the common types of night-time breathing disorders. You may develop OSA if your tongue and other tissues in the mouth tend to block the airway by falling backward when you sleep. When this happens, you might stop breathing for a minute or more, and this repeats many times throughout the night. There are many factors that increase the risk for obstructive sleep apnea, such as obesity, family history of apnea or snoring, etc.

Your throat muscles might relax a little too much, constricting your airways. The oxygen levels in your body start dropping, and your brain senses that you are not breathing, causing you to wake up gasping for breath. You may even snort, gasp, choke, or experience another symptom.

Central sleep apnea is another condition that can cause you to wake up gasping for air in your sleep. In this condition, your brain does not send signals to your breathing muscles, so there are periods when you have little to no air flowing into your lungs. Sleeping at high altitudes, medical conditions, and drugs are some factors that contribute to central sleep apnea.

There is another type of sleep apnea that is a mix of obstructive and central sleep apnea, called complex sleep apnea syndrome.

You should contact a sleep apnea specialist if you are waking up gasping for breath and notice other sleep apnea symptoms. They will hold an examination to determine if you have this condition and proceed with adequate treatment.

Other Reasons for Waking Up Gasping for Air

There are other factors that might be why you woke up gasping for air in your sleep. These include:

  1. Nocturnal Asthma: Yes, you may have nocturnal asthma, which makes it difficult to breathe. Your airways inflame and tighten, making you wake up mid-sleep short of breath.
  2. Postnasal Drip: When mucus from your nose manages to drip into your throat, you will have the urge to clear your throat or cough. Your breathing might stop temporarily if enough mucus makes its way into your throat, blocking it entirely. You may wake up gasping for air as you are unable to breathe for a short time.
  3. Hypnic Jerk: Your muscles might involuntarily twitch while you are falling asleep. As a result, you might jolt and wake up right away, and you may even gasp for breath. Caffeine, anxiety, and lack of sleep are among the factors that make hypnic jerks worse.

Final Word

You need to see a sleep specialist or a doctor if you wake up gasping for breath during your sleep. It is possible that you may be dealing with sleep apnea, postnasal drip, nocturnal asthma, hypnic jerk, and more. Talk to a specialist to understand what is causing it!

Divine Dental Studio is your trusted dental clinic, offering effective treatments to improve your dental health and more. Dr. Lomesh Popat and his dedicated team strive to bring you high-quality solutions. Contact us now at (209) 207-7777.



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