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Did you ever experience waking up gasping for breath? It can frighten you to the bone and leave you wondering if it is something serious. But, surprisingly, waking up like this is more common than you might think. Even though it is fairly common, gasping for breath during sleep is not easy. Fortunately, you can know the causes and get them treated too. Keep reading to learn the factors that cause this condition.

Why Are You Waking Up Gasping for Breath?

Some common reasons why this happens include:

1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

You can temporarily stop breathing if you have sleep apnea since the tissues in your throat relax if you have this condition. This can lead to disturbance in sleep or the affected person waking up gasping for breath or choking. OSA usually occurs in people suffering from obesity, diabetes, asthma, or smoking.

If you have OSA, you’ll also experience these:

  • Snoring
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Trouble focusing while awake
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Low moods
  • High Blood Pressure

2. Hypnic Jerk

Many people experience involuntary twitching of muscles when they’re falling asleep. If you relate to this, you probably jolt awake abruptly due to involuntary muscle movements. Known as hypnic jerks, these movements can be frightening. You might wake up gasping for air, but they’re not that serious.

Anxiety, coffee, lack of sleep, and an irregular sleep schedule can increase and worsen hypnic jerks.

3. Anxiety

Your anxiety might be the reason why you wake up at night gasping for breath. If this is the reason, you’ll also experience:

  • Sweating
  • Chilliness
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling like you’re going to faint
  • A sense of impending doom

4. Nocturnal Asthma

People suffering from asthma might struggle with breathing during the night. Their airways get inflamed due to asthma. Consequently, the airways tighten and cause trouble breathing. Thus, you might be waking up gasping for air because of asthma.

5. Acid Reflux or GERD

Many people experience acid reflux, which occurs when strong stomach acid or bile flows into our food pipe and irritates the lining. A person might wake up gasping for breath once the acid reaches the larynx or throat. Acid reflux during sleep might occur if you:

  • Had certain foods
  • Ate too close to the bedtime
  • Are taking particular medications

Heartburn, bad breath, enamel erosion, and a sore throat might accompany acid reflux. Frequently occurring acid reflux might be gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

6. Postnasal Drip

Postnasal drip is another reason people complain of waking up gasping for breath. What happens is that the mucus drips from your nose to your throat. It might make you feel congested. Moreover, you’ll feel the need to clear your throat. Your throat can get completely blocked if enough mucus manages to drip, which might temporarily stop you from breathing as you sleep.

Colds, allergies, particular foods, deviated septum, and many other causes can lead to post-natal drip.

What Should I Do?

If you’ve been waking up gasping for breath, it can ruin your sleep and make you worry about your health. Luckily for you, our sleep specialists at Sleep & Headache Solutions can help you determine the cause and get rid of it. Give us a ring at (832) 688-8886.

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