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Q: sleeping problems ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   6 Comments )
Subject: sleeping problems
Category: Health > Conditions and Diseases
Asked by: littledaytona-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 14 May 2003 19:46 PDT
Expires: 13 Jun 2003 19:46 PDT
Question ID: 203903
hi,i will describe my problem first and then ask my question.the
problem i have only occurs when i am asleep.actually it is the point
in between full sleep and half is difficult to totally
explain.when i am in this state between sleep and awake,my heart
starts racing very fast and im inmobile.i cant move or do anything.the
only thing i do is breath rapidly,it takes me about 3 or 4 minutes
before i can move or get up.i cant even open my eyes when this
happens.i have asked doctors about this before and no one seems to
know what the problem is.but like i said it only happens when i am you know what may cause this and mabey how to go about
getting help for it?thank you.i request kevinmd for this question.

Request for Question Clarification by kevinmd-ga on 15 May 2003 05:00 PDT
Hello - thanks for requesting me to answer this question. 

I will work on it shortly and will answer it by the end of the day.

Kevin, M.D.
Subject: Re: sleeping problems
Answered By: kevinmd-ga on 15 May 2003 07:48 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello - thanks for asking your question.     
Although I am an internal medicine physician, please see your primary
care physician for specific questions regarding any individual cases –
please do not use Google Answers as a substitute for medical advice.
I will be happy to answer factual medical questions.  
What you are describing may be sleep paralysis.  Sleep paralysis is a
condition affecting up to 6 percent of the population.  It is more
likely in people who take anti-anxiety medication (such as Valium or
Xanax).  It may characteristic of a condition known as narcolepsy, or
may be associated with sleep deprivation, severe anxiety or bipolar
disorder, or manic-depressive psychosis.

Stanford University nicely describes this condition: 
"What is sleep paralysis? 
Sleep paralysis consists of a period of inability to perform voluntary
movements either at sleep onset (called hypnogogic or predormital
form) or upon awakening (called hypnopompic or postdormtal form).

Sleep paralysis may also be referred to as isolated sleep paralysis,
familial sleep paralysis, hynogogic or hypnopompic paralysis,
predormital or postdormital paralysis.

What are the symptoms? 
- A complaint of inability to move the trunk or limbs at sleep onset
or upon awakening
- Presence of brief episodes of partial or complete skeletal muscle
- Episodes can be associated with hypnagogic hallucinations or
dream-like mentation (act or use of the brain)"

UptoDate describes sleep paralysis in the following way:
"Sleep paralysis is an often frightening inability to move just before
falling asleep. Sleep paralysis frequently is associated with
hypnagogic hallucinations; these also depend upon REM sleep mechanisms
and occur as the patient falls asleep. Hypnagogic hallucinations (i.e.
dreams) may range from benign to terrifying." (1)

Because of the association between sleep paralysis and narcolepsy, the
diagnosis of narcolepsy should be investigated.  Narcolepsy is a
hereditary CNS disorder that is associated with sleep paralysis and
daytime sleepiness.  One test to discuss with your primary care
physician would be a sleep study with multiple sleep latency.  This
will evaluate for sleep disorders such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea.

You also mentioned that your heart races very fast during these
episodes.  This may be a manifestation of the sleep paralysis, but you
may also want to consider other causes for these palpitations.  Tests
for your thyroid, electrolytes, an EKG, and possible Holter monitor (a
test to record any abnormal rhythms of your heart) should also be
discussed with your personal physician.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical 
advice - the information presented is for patient education only.
Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your
individual case.      
Please use any answer clarification before rating this answer. I will
be happy to explain or expand on any issue you may have.            
Kevin, M.D.    

Search strategy using Google:
"sleep paralysis"

ABC News - Sleep Paralysis

University of Waterloo - Sleep Paralysis

Yahoo! Directory - Sleep Paralysis

1) Mitler.  Narcolepsy.  UptoDate, 2003.

Request for Answer Clarification by littledaytona-ga on 15 May 2003 07:54 PDT
thanks for the info.sice i do sometimes catch myself not breathing in
my sleep,do you think maby i should have some kind of bloodwork done
to see if i have low blood oxygen?thanks again.

Clarification of Answer by kevinmd-ga on 15 May 2003 08:26 PDT
Catching yourself not breathing while you sleep may be suggestive of
sleep apnea.  A more useful test would be a sleep study which would
monitor your oxygen levels while you sleep.  This should be discussed
with your primary care physician.

Kevin, M.D.
littledaytona-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
gave me some very helpful info.thanks.

Subject: Re: sleeping problems
From: tibiaron-ga on 14 May 2003 20:11 PDT
I don't pretend to have your answer, but I have heard a similar report
from a person who was suffering from low blood oxygen.  He didn't
breeth enough while asleep to oxygenate his blood, which caused
similar symptoms to yours. You could have your blood oxygen tested,
but it probably wouldn't be low while you are awake.  You could ask
someone to observe your breething while asleep and see if they think
you are breething enough.
Subject: Re: sleeping problems
From: umiat-ga on 14 May 2003 20:29 PDT
I remember Dr. Dean Adell talking about this very problem on one of
his radio talk shows. I will look into it and see what I can find. I
understand you have requested kevinmd, so I will leave an answer to
him. Meanwhile, I will poke around!

Google Answers researcher
Subject: Re: sleeping problems
From: sublime1-ga on 14 May 2003 20:34 PDT
This is likely a condition known as "sleep paralysis".
kevinmd-ga will be seeing you shortly. Please enjoy
the selection of magazines in the waiting room... : )
Subject: Re: sleeping problems
From: jackburton-ga on 15 May 2003 00:20 PDT
Since you have marked this question for the attention of the doc, i
wont attempt to answer it, but you may be interested to know that i
have suffered from the same or a similar affliction. In my case, i
would be completely lucid whilst in a sleep-state - i was aware that i
should be waking up, but became very distressed when i couldn't open
my eyes or move my limbs. Gradually i was able to regain motor
control, but it felt very unnatural as it was a real "struggle" to
"wake up". I have experienced this both whilst on and off medication,
so in my case i am sure it was not a side-effect of a drug (though
some drugs can certainly intensify the dream experience). There would
usually be no dream activity going on, and even though i wasnt
particularly scared, i did feel extremely uncomfortable, confused and
restricted. I have also experienced "lucid dreaming", (i.e. dreaming
but being consciously aware you are in a dream), but that was a
different sensation altogether. Does any of this sound familiar?
Subject: Re: sleeping problems
From: littledaytona-ga on 15 May 2003 00:45 PDT
jackburton,that sounds exactly what i does semm like i
am fighting myself to wake up.what bothers me is that my heart rate
goes up so much that it seems like a heart attack.but iv had alot of
tests and a stress test done and they say that my heart is in great
condition.i also get light headed alot while im awake,so mabey i do
have a low blood oxygen level like tibiaron said.i have caught myself
not breathing in my sleep alot.but it dont happen every night,but it
has gotten worse lately.i have also experienced lucid dreaming.thanks.
Subject: Re: sleeping problems
From: lucidnet-ga on 26 May 2004 05:41 PDT
It might sound a bit wierd, but some people strive to be in the sleep
paralysis state... it can be used as a to help you achieve lucid
dreaming. Sleep paralysis is a natural thing that happens everynight,
and i believe we evoloved the ability so we could sleep in trees and
not fall out to avoid predators. When you wake up the brain triggers
something to wake your body up, and in some cases is a little slow so
you cant move? could your increase in heart rate be because you are
scared and paniking.. you should read up on lucid dreaming, there are
certain sites available and a good book by stephen la berge. intead of
trying to get rid of the sleep paralysis, you could try and use it to
induce a lucid dream.... but by all means get it checked out if you
think it is something more... better safe than sorry

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