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Why do I fall asleep when I tilt my head back?

by Kathy W.
(Kansas City, Missouri)

Each night I get around 7-9 hours of solid sleep. If I wake up at all it's just once to turn over and I don't snore. During the day I'm always sleepy. I try not to allow myself to take naps during the day because if I do I'll sleep for hours. My big concern though is how I fall asleep. If I tip my head back at any angle I fall asleep. Even if I feel awake if I'm sitting up and tilt my head back on the couch I'm out within secs. When I go to movies I fall asleep instantly because of the angle of the chairs. I've looked at certain types of sleep disorders but I can't find anything that fits my symptoms. My only cue is that my grandfather has sleep apnea...but I don't snore. Do you have any idea whats going on with me?


In case it makes a difference, I'm a 26 year old female and about 20lbs overweight.

Comments for Why do I fall asleep when I tilt my head back?

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May 20, 2011
me too
by: Anonymous

well, I do have the same condition, not just when I tilt my head but if I put anything behind my head, like my hand, I feel a tornado inside and I just fall asleep, it's getting too weird as I sleep almost 12 hours a day!!

Aug 22, 2011
Tilting a head
by: Hawkmoon

It seems to me it's related to blood flow in brain. When you tilt your head, you make certain pressure on your neck arteries and therefore reduce flow of blood in your brain and it just goes into shut down mode. Do you remember it happening when you were young? (or maybe less overweight?) It doesn't have to be medical problem but it might cause some problems in activities that require tilting of head.

Oct 04, 2014
Update???! NEW
by: Ryan

I have the exact same symptoms. 27 m. Have you found any more information about what is happening? Thanks for the update!

Jan 03, 2015
Same but different NEW
by: Ausiblue

I fall asleep and get headache when my head is pushed forward; most of if I am sitting in a recliner that has a head rest behind my head. If I use chair with a lower back it doesn't happen

Apr 02, 2015
Sleep trouble - me too on head reclined NEW
by: Anonymous

A comment to my doctor made just days ago in an email.

"Worth noting, a questionable phenomenon: If I sit in a chair that’s leans back it will put me to sleep. This has gone on for at least 10+ years. I remember telling my parents when we visited a planetarium show at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT that I had trouble falling asleep during the show. My parents statement: "Boy you weren’t kidding, you were asleep within minutes" - A deep, snoring sleep, almost coma like sleep. At some point in time I do wake up but really only regain complete consciousness when I force myself into a more upright position."

I believe there is more to this than blood flow. No proof either way. I was thinking inner ear - something related to balance.

Apr 20, 2015
Me too! NEW
by: Chris M.

This happens to me at work. I wear progressive lens glasses and have to tilt my head back when I'm in meetings, looking up at a large screen monitor. I was thinking it was blood-flow related also. Haven't yet talked to my doctor about this.

Oct 09, 2015
Afraid to tilt my head back. NEW
by: Renee

I noticed in one of the comments being overweight was mentioned. I don't remember this happening to me until about 2 years ago and I do have a weight problem. I am so afraid to tilt my head back, because I will go to sleep in a matter of seconds. I never remember to mention this to my doctor during visits, so I will have to do that, but it is a really scary issue for me at work. I don't want to tilt my head back and get caught sleeping.

Apr 28, 2016
Crazy NEW
by: Anonymous

I am a 27 male and I've slept like this ever since I could remember. My parents never thought it was weird or crazy because my grandma (dad's mom) and my dad both do it ever since they could remember too. I was just trying to look further into this phenomenon. I'm totally comfortable with it and so is my dad and grandma. I just wanted to see the cause. Maybe it DOES have something to do with blood flow? Interesting... PS- My grandma, dad or I are not at all over weight.

Aug 16, 2016
Sleeping head back NEW
by: Anonymous

I put my pillow under my back and head is all the way to the back. I get up deasy very deasy for few minutes everything turn around me.

Sep 10, 2016
Head on pillow...Ko in minutes NEW
by: Anonymous

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one. When I am awake I usually am walking and upright standing. As soon as I rest my head against something, even light pressure, I'm feeling tired. Head on pillow, regardless how awake I am, I'm asleep within a few minutes. The effects have increased with time. Note: Only 25. The sleepiness happens regardless of if I have had caffeine or sugar beforehand. Definitely not a lack of energy thing.

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