A falling or sinking sensation while falling asleep??

  • Sk8Tex

    Posts: 738

    Mar 26, 2011 7:25 PM GMT
    This actually started for me about 2 months ago and I just told my partner about it this weekend because for the first time it didn't happen while I was laying down trying to go to sleep, so its got me a little disturbed. My partner didn't like the sound of it and as I suspected after I told him about it he spent all night researching CPR techniques and looking up portable defibrillator pricing.. oy vey

    The only way I know how to describe it is as I'm laying down there is a sudden rapid sensation that I am falling out of control, or maybe a sinking sensation in my chest like I am going to run out of air or my lungs will collapse. My reactions always the same.. I feel the need to gasp for air and force myself to breathe as deep as possible.. and I'm not sure but I feel like maybe my heart misses a beat when it happens. I plan on seeing the doctor this week about it but I'm super nervous and just throwing this out there to see if anyone else has ever experienced it before so I will have an idea of what to expect from the checkup.
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    Mar 26, 2011 11:51 PM GMT
    First guess: Sleep apnea.
    Second guess: Sleep deprivation (cumulative, from several weeks without proper sleep).
    Third guess: See a sleep specialist to get an official diagnosis.

    Take your pick. icon_biggrin.gif
  • Sk8Tex

    Posts: 738

    Mar 27, 2011 1:30 AM GMT
    I don't think its either of those, as I sleep normally and for 6-8 hours at a time. This feeling though happens while I am wide awake... I can be watching TV, or just simply laying down and feel this sensation sporadically. Only recently did it happen at work while I was sitting at the computer and I know I wasn't sleepy at all.. when it does happen I am intensely aware of my own heartbeat for some reason and it feels like I have to take huge breaths to make my heart beat normally. I've tried googling the symptoms and all I get is anxiety related stuff.. but I'm the most laid back care-free person I know so I have no idea what this is.
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    Mar 27, 2011 1:40 AM GMT
    Even tho you have discounted it...

    "Do you ever wake up suddenly to a falling sensation and a strong muscle twitch just after you have fallen asleep?

    This strange falling sensation and muscle twitch is known as a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch or “Hypnic jerk” If this has happened to you on more than one occasion, don’t worry, you are not alone. Close to 70 percent of all people experience this phenomenon just after nodding off, according to a recent study at the Mayo Clinic.

    Most experts agree that this is a natural part of the sleeping process, much like slower breathing and a reduced heartbeat. The occurance is well known and has been well documented. However, experts are still not completely sure why the body does this.

    The general consensus among researchers is that, as your muscles begin to slack and go into a restful state just as you are falling asleep; your brain senses these relaxation signals and misinterprets them, thinking you are falling down. The brain then sends signals to the muscles in your arms and legs in an attempt to jerk you back upright. This misinterpretation that takes place in your brain may also be responsible for the “falling” dreams that accompany the falling sensation. These “dreams” are not really normal dreams, as they are not produced from R.E.M sleep, but rather more like a daydream or hallucination in response to the body’s sensations. ..."

    http://www.failedsuccess.com/index.php?/weblog/comments/falling_sleep_hypnic_jerk/
  • Sk8Tex

    Posts: 738

    Mar 27, 2011 1:43 AM GMT
    The sensation lasts for anywhere between 5-30 minutes at a time when it does happen so I'm pretty sure its not the sleep thing.

    ..and this sensation happens from lying down, sleepy or not.
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    Mar 27, 2011 1:46 AM GMT
    Sk8Tex saidThe sensation lasts for anywhere between 5-30 minutes at a time when it does happen so I'm pretty sure its not the sleep thing.

    ..and this sensation happens from lying down, sleepy or not.

    Which sensation? "...a sudden rapid sensation that I am falling out of control, or maybe a sinking sensation in my chest like I am going to run out of air or my lungs will collapse" You list two separate sensations.
  • Sk8Tex

    Posts: 738

    Mar 27, 2011 1:49 AM GMT
    Its kinda hard to describe the first second or two feels like falling and then accompanied by the sinking sensation in the chest. So much so that it makes it feel like I can't get enough air in me. Once or twice theres been some tingling in my legs when it happens, every time it happens I am afraid i'm having a heart attack.. It's a pretty disturbing feeling.

    Edit: every time it happens I begin holding my hand over my chest trying to feel my heartbeat.. not fun icon_confused.gif
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    Mar 27, 2011 2:23 AM GMT
    premature ventricular contractions
  • Jexxo

    Posts: 28

    Mar 27, 2011 10:03 PM GMT
    Sk8Tex saidIts kinda hard to describe the first second or two feels like falling and then accompanied by the sinking sensation in the chest. So much so that it makes it feel like I can't get enough air in me. Once or twice theres been some tingling in my legs when it happens, every time it happens I am afraid i'm having a heart attack.. It's a pretty disturbing feeling.

    Edit: every time it happens I begin holding my hand over my chest trying to feel my heartbeat.. not fun icon_confused.gif


    Just go to the docs to get it checked. I doubt it's anything to worry about.

    It could well just be your heart changing rhythm, which is completely normal and happens quite often. Sometimes this is more pronounced and hence you notice it - can be caused by diet/stress or a number of factors.

    The fact your now so aware of it is probably also making it worse as you think about it more.
  • tituspullo197...

    Posts: 203

    Mar 27, 2011 10:13 PM GMT
    It could be an inner ear issue that is disrupting your equilibrium.
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    Mar 27, 2011 10:24 PM GMT
    Sk8Tex saidIts kinda hard to describe the first second or two feels like falling and then accompanied by the sinking sensation in the chest. So much so that it makes it feel like I can't get enough air in me. Once or twice theres been some tingling in my legs when it happens, every time it happens I am afraid i'm having a heart attack.. It's a pretty disturbing feeling.

    Edit: every time it happens I begin holding my hand over my chest trying to feel my heartbeat.. not fun icon_confused.gif


    First bit sounds like what I always try to focus on when I have a bit of trouble falling asleep. The second part sounds like a quick (and small) panic attack.

    Stress and age can give you stabbity feelings in your chest/heart. Which are harmless. Shortness of breath isn't though so you should still get it checked out.
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    Mar 27, 2011 10:41 PM GMT
    First thing is to reconfirm your appointment for this week. This article will help you to learn about possible causes of your palpitations. This site will help you to prepare for your office visit (note the "Medical History" section that provides examples of the types of questions you will be asked by your physician).
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    Mar 27, 2011 10:55 PM GMT
    As far as Im aware, the twitch occurs because of a reflex that has stayed with us for years... something to do with sleeping in trees, and our bodies wake us up with a sudden shock when we start to roll out... is that in any way familiar??

    As for the breathing, dude, go to a doctor - what is the harm? A waiting room? Weigh up the pros and cons, if you have something to be concerned about, you should know what it is.
  • starboard5

    Posts: 969

    Mar 27, 2011 10:56 PM GMT
    When you first lie down you, elevate your legs and this increases venous return to the heart. You mentioned that you might have felt that your heart skipped a beat. What is your pulse like when this happens? I'm guessing it is irregular. It could be premature ventricular beats, but more likely it's supravenrticular...above the ventricles, originating in the atria. Most people have ectopic (irregular) beats everyday and just don't notice them. The shortness of breath could be due to the sudden increased venous return. Do you feel dizzy when this happens. I'm not a doctor and not qualified to diagnose anything. You should see your doctor and maybe get a referral to a cardiologist. I'm willing to bet it's not serious. You may need a 24 hour Holter monitor study, simple and painless and it will show your doctor what's happening with your heart. I was 30 when I started having runs of tachycardia and irregular beats. I'm 56 now and exercise six days a week. Don't be scared. I think you'll be fine.
  • Celticmusl

    Posts: 4330

    Mar 27, 2011 11:04 PM GMT
    Caslon18000 saidEven tho you have discounted it...

    "Do you ever wake up suddenly to a falling sensation and a strong muscle twitch just after you have fallen asleep?

    This strange falling sensation and muscle twitch is known as a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch or “Hypnic jerk” If this has happened to you on more than one occasion, don’t worry, you are not alone. Close to 70 percent of all people experience this phenomenon just after nodding off, according to a recent study at the Mayo Clinic.

    Most experts agree that this is a natural part of the sleeping process, much like slower breathing and a reduced heartbeat. The occurance is well known and has been well documented. However, experts are still not completely sure why the body does this.

    The general consensus among researchers is that, as your muscles begin to slack and go into a restful state just as you are falling asleep; your brain senses these relaxation signals and misinterprets them, thinking you are falling down. The brain then sends signals to the muscles in your arms and legs in an attempt to jerk you back upright. This misinterpretation that takes place in your brain may also be responsible for the “falling” dreams that accompany the falling sensation. These “dreams” are not really normal dreams, as they are not produced from R.E.M sleep, but rather more like a daydream or hallucination in response to the body’s sensations. ..."

    http://www.failedsuccess.com/index.php?/weblog/comments/falling_sleep_hypnic_jerk/


    I've had this and it was when I was working 60 hrs a week for a few years. If you asked me I would say I got enough sleep....but obviously, thinking back....I was beyond my limits. I also got the pounding heart beat and sinking feeling, and I think that's my response from waking from a 'fall" and the shot of adrenaline coursing through my body. To the op, you think you have some special thing that no one has ever had before even though others have experienced similar sleep disturbances, so yeah, just go see a Dr.
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    Mar 28, 2011 12:17 AM GMT
    Somerandom saidAs far as Im aware, the twitch occurs because of a reflex that has stayed with us for years... something to do with sleeping in trees, and our bodies wake us up with a sudden shock when we start to roll out... is that in any way familiar??

    As for the breathing, dude, go to a doctor - what is the harm? A waiting room? Weigh up the pros and cons, if you have something to be concerned about, you should know what it is.

    ...something to do with sleeping in trees?.... Is that your diagnosis? ... icon_rolleyes.gif
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    Mar 28, 2011 12:27 AM GMT
    Sounds like the start of PVC's ( premature ventricular contractions ) and the wonderful world of Panic Attacks beginning to manifest with wild symptoms that mirror many different disorders. The best thing to do is to go and get all the tests to rule out any other problems. ( blood work, cardio ect.. ) ask for a holter monitor for 24 hours so they can check to see if you are having pvc's. Those pesky buggers never seem to show up when you go in for a test but wearing the holter at home should reveal them. I was having them in my sleep and didn't even know it. Once you find out there is nothing catastrophic happening you will begin to just let these feelings rush in and out and many times they just disappear.

    When I first had them I described them as suddenly feeling like I was dropping in an elevator. The feeling took my breath away just like you describe. Then my heart would start racing and for about 30 minutes I'd feel odd. Like a since of dread or doom. What was even more scary is when I started realizing my heart seemed to be skipping a beat at the same exact moment that dropping feeling would happen. I thought I was either having a heart attack or a stroke because I also got that tingly feeling as well. At that point I had never heard of PVC's before. Although they feel like your heart is skipping a beat in fact the heart is actually pumping an extra beat so fast your pulse doesn't register the faster beat but the pulse does register the second harder one and mine was becoming more pronounced the more I'd have those dropping feelings. From there I'd start panicking and of course I'd get a nice rush of built up adrenalin ( panic attack ) My best advice and probably hard for you to embrace but don't fear them. Healthy athletes experience them as well. A good cardiologist will be able to tell you right up front if they are harmless and usually they are. One of the most interesting tests I took to make sure I was being thorough was a heart sonogram. I found it fascinating. Don't go looking on the internet trying to diagnose yourself with this. Just go to your doc and get all your tests. You'll be happy to eliminate a lot of things. Then comes the fun part of working through them but trust me you can.
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    Mar 28, 2011 7:01 AM GMT
    Sk8Tex saidThis actually started for me about 2 months ago and I just told my partner about it this weekend because for the first time it didn't happen while I was laying down trying to go to sleep, so its got me a little disturbed. My partner didn't like the sound of it and as I suspected after I told him about it he spent all night researching CPR techniques and looking up portable defibrillator pricing.. oy vey

    The only way I know how to describe it is as I'm laying down there is a sudden rapid sensation that I am falling out of control, or maybe a sinking sensation in my chest like I am going to run out of air or my lungs will collapse. My reactions always the same.. I feel the need to gasp for air and force myself to breathe as deep as possible.. and I'm not sure but I feel like maybe my heart misses a beat when it happens. I plan on seeing the doctor this week about it but I'm super nervous and just throwing this out there to see if anyone else has ever experienced it before so I will have an idea of what to expect from the checkup.



    I've experienced this my whole life. I'm drifting off to sleep when suddenly I become aware I'm leaving my body. Normally I'm totally asleep when this happens so it doesn't alarm me. But sometimes I'm still slightly conscious, so when I start to drift off, I catch myself, raise up out of the bed gasping for air. It scares the hell out of me.
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    Mar 28, 2011 7:04 AM GMT
    Sk8Tex saidI don't think its either of those, as I sleep normally and for 6-8 hours at a time. This feeling though happens while I am wide awake... I can be watching TV, or just simply laying down and feel this sensation sporadically. Only recently did it happen at work while I was sitting at the computer and I know I wasn't sleepy at all.. when it does happen I am intensely aware of my own heartbeat for some reason and it feels like I have to take huge breaths to make my heart beat normally. I've tried googling the symptoms and all I get is anxiety related stuff.. but I'm the most laid back care-free person I know so I have no idea what this is.



    You might try researching panic disorder. It has nothing to do with generalize anxiety. The symptoms come on suddenly and can leave pretty quickly too.
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    Mar 28, 2011 7:08 AM GMT
    It has always happened to me for as long as I can remember, but of course not to the point where I need to gasp for air...hmm...not sure how to help you out bud!
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    Mar 28, 2011 7:12 AM GMT
    I hate when that happens.....

  • Sk8Tex

    Posts: 738

    Mar 28, 2011 2:33 PM GMT
    creonxxx saidWhen I first had them I described them as suddenly feeling like I was dropping in an elevator. The feeling took my breath away just like you describe. Then my heart would start racing and for about 30 minutes I'd feel odd. Like a since of dread or doom. What was even more scary is when I started realizing my heart seemed to be skipping a beat at the same exact moment that dropping feeling would happen. I thought I was either having a heart attack or a stroke because I also got that tingly feeling as well.


    This sounds pretty spot on to the sensation I've been feeling. I am about 99% sure its not the sleep twitch thing because I can feel the sensation usually within about 30 seconds of lying down, which at first the feeling seemed to be isolated to when I was lying down only. I thought maybe the legs being level with the body effecting blood flow might have something to do with it because like you described I do feel like my heart skips a beat.. and then when I try to feel my pulse it is racing to the point where I can hardly feel individual beats. Deep slow breaths seems to be the only thing so far that makes it subside and can take up to 20 minutes to feel normal again. I will definitely speak with the doc about wearing the holter.. because when I try to show my partner whats going on I get pffttt... nothin.

    Anyways thanks though to all the info from everyone, least I have a broader idea of what to expect during my visit.

    Edit Update 4/4/11: I went to the Dr on friday and she hooked me up to an ekg machine, asked me all kinds of questions about my family history of heart disease/attacks. Ordered some blood work and a holter monitor for me to come back to get in about 2 weeks. But I still went home and that night had the same sensation so its kind of like... what do you do now? She said after the blood work and holter monitor they'll know more, and whether or not they'll have to put me on beta blockers. For now all theyve advised me to do is avoid caffeine/alcohol & take multivitamins containing magnesium, fish oil, and coenzyme-q? All I know is, it really really sucks going to bed wondering whether or not your having a heart attack that night.