Medical Specialty >> Cardiology

Doctors Lounge - Cardiology Answers

Back to Cardiology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/20/2017.

Forum Name: Miscellaneous Cardiology Topics

Question: Shortness of breath right after falling asleep.

 Ladsud - Sun Aug 02, 2009 9:08 pm


I have a problem with waking up right after I fall asleep feeling like I cannot breath, usually about 10-15 minutes after Im asleep. As far as I know it doesnt happen through out the night.

Im a 31 year old male, Im 5'7 and weigh 180 pounds. I am a smoker and drink anywhere from 6-12 beers my day off of work, otherwise I don't drink during the week. I am on no medication.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Aug 05, 2009 11:31 pm

User avatar Hello --

Your problem sounds like it could be one of two or three things: sleep apnea, although this does recur frequently throughout the night so is less likely; sleep paralysis, an odd sleep disturbance which involves waking and being unable to move momentarily, often associated with a sensation of being unable to breathe briefly, which then goes away once the sufferer wakes up, and usually doesn't recur again during the same night; or nocturnal panic attacks, which can take place randomly, and usually are associated with transient stressful life situations.

There are other possibilities, but given the peculiar timing of your episodes I suspect it to be one of the above and probably not sleep apnea. If it persists you should have a general phsyical with special attention to possible causes of this, and perhaps even a sleep study. You also could have nocturnal asthma associated with reflux of stomach contents, which also should be ruled out during an exam for this problem.

If the problem were happening throughout the night there might be more concern regarding cardiac causes, but since it seems to resolve after the first waking each time, I really suspect a psychogenic cause. Best to have this checked anyway, though, as this could affect your ability to get restful sleep.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck to you and please follow up with us as needed.

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us