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I Feel Like I'm Dying In My Sleep...

by Jason Pugh
(Columbus, Ohio)

My name is Jason, I'm 33 years old, and this has happened to me many, many times, always just BEFORE I fall asleep, ever since I was probably 18.


I can be lying down in any position and I can feel my body just fall limp. My breath slows down and, when it first happened, I felt like I was suffocating. I tried to take a deep breath but my lungs didn't respond and I started to panic. I couldn't sit up, in fact, I couldn't even move. I can still hear everything going on around me.

I also fall asleep with my eyes partially open sometimes, and I can see everything going on around me but I can't move my eyes. I can feel the tears running down my cheek, knowing I can't stop it unless I can startle myself enough to wake up my body.

The only thing I CAN do, is get either one of my feet to move at the ankle. If I shake my foot hard enough, I can now wake up my wife, who knows what that means, and shakes me till I am ok.

Over the years I have been able to sometimes force my exhale out harder to make a slight noise. If my wife is not in bed with me and it happens, I am in some trouble. I can get my feet moving, sometimes both feet going enough to shake my entire body, yet I sometimes can't wake up.

I feel like I am dying in my sleep, but I'm forced to be mentally awake, almost as some type of punishment. Once, I tried to accept that I couldn't wake up from it and just go to sleep... yah right! Didn't work.

I still panic when it happens. When I do finally wake up, if I try to lay back down immediately, it will happen again. I have had this happen 3-4 times in a row before I figured out I have to get out of bed, and walk around, get a drink or do something for a few minutes.

To this day, I suffer from this condition 2-3 times a month with no medication, and it frightens me every time.

Comments for I Feel Like I'm Dying In My Sleep...

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Sep 30, 2015
Perfect Description Of Sleep Paralysis
by: Kevin

Thanks for giving a perfect, textbook description of sleep paralysis. And a great description of how to use your bed partner to wake you up from an episode. Ryan Hurd talks about that as well as one of the techniques he uses to help gain some control over his sleep paralysis.

Perhaps the only thing that is not the usual for sleep paralysis is that you get it at the start of sleep. It is most common to experience when you wake up. Sometimes experiencing it only at the start of sleep can be a symptom of a more serious problem like narcolepsy, but it doesn't sound like that's the case for you given just what's here in your description.

Thanks again for sharing your story.

Jan 16, 2016
Goin to Sleep NEW
by: David Sheppard

I believe what you are experiencing is a phenomenon called "deafferentation." As we go to sleep, the brain diminishes inputs from the five physical senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. This enables us to sleep through most physical irritants and environmental disturbances. We lose touch with our body. It is nothing to fear and is quite normal. The transition from being awake to being asleep is called hypnagogia, and it is quite complicated and very interesting. I discuss it extensively in In Pursuit of Sleep. http://InPursuitOfSleep.com

Apr 11, 2016
sleep paralysis NEW
by: suzy

I have suffered with this for many years and did not know it had a name. It is terrifying. I saw something online a couple of months ago and I thought my god this is what ive been having. I forgot about it. Last night I had sleep paralysis and I looked it up. I was relieved I wasnt on my own or going mad. Its awful, I am so scared to go back to sleep when I eventually wake up. I have terrible nightmares which are different to sleep paralysis where I can feel pain and try to wake up and cant. I kind of know when I am going to have an attack. I feel asleep and wake up and cant move my arms or head or torso, I try to scream but nothing comes from my mouth. What I do think happens is that I can move the lower part of my legs and am franticly moving them to wake myself up but icant move anything else. I feel relief when I wake up but i dare not go back to sleep. I do have poor quality of sleep because of back problems and severe osteo arthritis. So I am sleep deprived.i take many tablets for the pain including tramadol and amitriptyline and others. I donfeel like I am dying whn it happens and feel like I am dying. I struggle to breathe. Glad im not alone but wud not wish it on my worst enemy . Wish I cud find a cure cos is scary stuff. Suzy e

Sep 05, 2016
Perfect description NEW
by: Mackel9

I have this and I usually try to talk and scream and there is no sound coming out. I open my eyes, but no sound can come out for several minutes. My heart feels like it is about to stop or beating too slowly, I cannot express how scared you wake up feeling...

Oct 13, 2016
Glad I'm not alone NEW
by: Amity

I'm so glad that I'm not the only one! I have this very often, and it always happens at the beginning of my sleep especially when I'm really tired. It's almost as if I wake up mentally and realize that I can't move, speak or a lot of times breathe. The only thing that has worked for me is to frantically wiggle my toes or foot or squeeze my hand to make a fist. It is so scary and when I do wake up, I'm panicked! I always worry about going back to sleep right after bc it happens again. So sorry you guys are having this happen to you! Is there anything you can do to avoid this happening?

Nov 15, 2016
Can't wake up NEW
by: Anonymous

I have this in fact I just woke up to one ,it's like I want to wake up and I can't breathe or move ,I feel like I am awake when this happens and wake up gasping for air ,it's so frightening,I have spoken to my doctor and he says you will always wake up ,that hasn't put my mind at rest cause he didn't take it serious ,my mum just died in her sleep which has made mine worse and I am so scared to go to sleep ,and so tied to wake up I think I may go to another doctor cause the problem is getting worse not better

Nov 21, 2016
night runner NEW
by: matips

thanks for sharing that ...
personally I have had this experience for quite sometime to me it normally happen after I have had an episode of drinking ..that is the day after. . everytime I go to bed I just get very weak can
't even turn or say something but I can feel mosquitos biting me and noises outside but can't do anything but I keep on struggling there until somehow I just wake up again I get scared to sleep again coz it happens again ...but since I know it's only for a while n am used to that condition I just lie there knowing it will go away




Dec 11, 2016
It feels like suffocating NEW
by: Anonymous

Im 29 and this started happening to me maybe 2 years ago. It is terrifying. It feels like suffocating. I have tried to be mindful of the position I fall asleep in just incase it happens again but it truly doesn't matter. I have slept propped up on 3 pillows and its still as scary as if I had fallen asleep on my stomach. I felt crazy and did not know how to explain to my fiance that I often feel like im dying in my sleep. Its a minor relief knowing that I'm not alone but going to sleep is still terrifying.

Dec 27, 2016
Not afraid anymore NEW
by: Anonymous

This has been happening to me for quite some time, its increasing from once a month to 2 times a night. I have done alot of serching which led me astral projection. For me its starts with a tingle and instead of fearing it, i gave in. I know its a form of sleep paralysis, so i gave in and have amazing dreams and wake up very refresh. Give in, the only fear i have is not coming back to the body. But im still here.

Mar 01, 2017
happens to me NEW
by: Anonymous

This happens to me very often, sometimes a few times a week. When I'm falling asleep or waking up and it frigtns the life out of me literally... I can't move and my eyes won't open and my brain and body feels heavy and weak, I'm so weak like I don't stand a chance when I try to fight it and qake up... My breathing slows down. It's what I imagine dying to be like. Sometimes I move my hand or foot and I can feel myself doing this even though I'm will not fully conscious I know I'm awake at the same time. After a few attempts of struggling to pressure my self to open my eyes, move and wake up properly and it doesn't work I relax my body and don't think for a few seconds and then I try again and it works, I wake up properly and shake myself around with relief. However sometimes it takes longer than one or two trys of relaxing myself to wake up and that's what svTes me most. I have bad anxiety and I wonder if lack of sleep sometimes makes this happen that my brain is so heavily on sleep mode that my body also won't react because of this. You feel so afraid to go back asleep! I do exercise alot. I'm going to start practising mindfulness again

Apr 10, 2017
Doesn't feel like sleep paralysis NEW
by: Anonymous

I've have sleep paralysis and It doesn't feel like it. This sleep gives me a good feeling, as if I'm going into a good sleep and I feel like I'm never going to wake up. As I let go of my tensed body my heart beats really fast as it's trying to wake me back up. I stay awake for about 4 hours before I start feeling tired again. Please advise me on what to do. I hate this feeling.

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