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Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: startled falling asleep

 Sandy - Tue Sep 28, 2004 12:15 am

I have had a problem for years that has never been resolved through any exams I have ever had and I have never seen it posted anywhere quite like this.

This mostly happens when I am very sleepy or overtired.
As I start to drift off to sleep I jump up with a start like something shocks me out of sleep, doesn't allow me to fall asleep.
I feel like a spring wound up that lets go and I'm not breathing right but it isn't as if I cannot breathe because I am able to calm myself down and get control and breathing becomes normal. I calm down by telling myself to relax, everything is going to be okay.
My heart is not beating excessively fast (at least I cannot feel it doing so) and I am not sweating when this happens. I'm not having any pains anywhere. I haven't had time to dream so it can't be that.

Sometimes my stomach seems to be spasming, tightening and loosening, and I am making gasping or gutteral sounds though I am sitting up and very much awake and aware of what is going on. (that's what I meant about not breathing right) I will lie down and try again and this might happen 5 or 6 times in a row.
It seems that when I get so exhausted from this, I just finally am able to fall asleep with no problems but I have to get thoroughly exhausted before I can just fall asleep without this happening.

I have started to drift off sitting up in a chair and the same thing happens. This also mostly happens at night.
I felt it was an anxiety thing but I am not particularly anxious about anything when I get ready to go to sleep. The one main thing is that I am usually very very tired when this happens, or overtired as some might say. Usually from lack of sleep which eventually catches up with me.
This does not happen all the time. I will go a few nights in a row with no problem at all.

If I lie down in the morning after a sleepless night and then try to sleep I seem to fall asleep with no problems and feel refreshed though I only will sleep about an hour or so but that hour feels like I slept all night.
Does anyone have any ideas about this?
Thank you
 Dr. Russell M - Tue Sep 28, 2004 9:05 am

User avatar Hi!

Have you brought this up with your doctor, got yourself examined? and if so, what are your doctor's opinions?

 Sandy - Tue Sep 28, 2004 11:27 am

Hi Bill, thanks for replying. As I said in the very first paragraph, it was never resolved 'through exams'.

 Dr. Russell M - Tue Sep 28, 2004 4:18 pm

User avatar Hi!

I read that part of non-resolution of your problems despite examinations. My question is what their opinions were as to the reason behind your problems. Or were they helpless without a clue, the doctors who examined you?

 Sandy - Tue Sep 28, 2004 11:43 pm

without a clue, unconcerned, (of course, being a senior on low income and no real insurance doesn't help) I guess they figure if they can't get much out of me and I'm not that young so who cares? I've lived too long to know this is true. Don't get me wrong, there are doctors who care and who deal with older people but I can't have access them to them.
Oh well.

 samiheik - Thu Dec 23, 2004 11:43 am


I have a very similar problem, neuros are clueless. I do experience the same shocking feeling right on the sleep onset (not the normal kind falling sensation) that shocks my bodu awake, sometimes this is combined with arms spasming or moving very rapidly. This can happen 10 times in a row and night after night, even in the morning or in the airplane when falling asleep, actually in the airplane I am concerned that my arm will fly over to seat next to me..

This symptomps have gradually started getting worse and the only prevailing other symptom is constant tremor and shakiness in my upper body as well as muscle spasms during the day all over my body (up to 100 times a day, never the same place twice) and pinching sensation in my feet (these two are the only day time symptoms). I had an EEG, EMG, MRI of the c-spine (disc problem in my neck) and a sleep study done. They have not really helped the docs to figure out what is wrong. Blood test incl Lyme all normal.

Has anybody been able to get help to similar problem and where? Tried several meds, none is working.
 Dr. Russell M - Thu Dec 30, 2004 2:15 am

User avatar Hi!

I believe a certain helplessness can creep into some doctors when they find that they are no longer in control of the situation, when not knowing what the disease or its cure is. The patient on the other hand may not want to know the disease or its cure, and may only want some reassurance or some comforting words. Without knowledge, doctors find it difficult to reconcile to the status of a comforter. This difficulty may be perceived by the patient as a lack of concern. All sorts of docs and patients are out there, but I believe the majority are similar with a fire inside them to help each other.

What you are experiencing could be a hypnagogic startle. A hypnagogic startle is a "sleep start" or sudden body jerk, observed NORMALLY just at sleep onset and resulting in at least momentary awakening. As for your stomach problems, could it have something to do with acidity?


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