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Sleep Disorders Message Board

Sleep Disorders Board Index

Hi there,

I would like to contribute to this thread hopefully with a cure as I suffered the following symptoms:

a) Just when I'm about to fall asleep, I am jolted awake with a pounding heart and I gasp a bit for air as if I forgot to breathe. This is not the hypnogogic jerk that we all experience from time to time where our hands or legs twitch as we fall asleep. This is far scarier in my opinion.

b) This continues ad nauseam, all night allowing me to get less than 1 hour of sleep and can persist for days, forcing me to take sleeping pills.

I did extensive research online and have also had blood tests, thyroid test, urine test (results to come soon), lung function test, EKG, echo-gram of the heart, 24 hour holter monitor, allergy test, take-home sleep study (I have no apnea), neurology tests checking oxygen flow to brain and screening for degenerative diseases like ALS. All came back negative although I was insufficient for Vitamin D, so I am taking supplements.

As the days went by (I suffered from this for about 4-5 weeks with my main symptom during the day being shortness in breath), I finally stumbled upon 'Adrenal Fatigue'. This is the failure of our adrenal glands to produce cortisol, the stress response hormone, in adequate quantities, resulting in an internal imbalance of cortisol in our bodies. This can elevate PH levels thus reducing our CO2 tolerance at night; so when we transition from staying awake to light or REM sleep, there is a brief pause where our parasympathetic system takes over (i.e automatic breathing). In this brief pause, in my understanding, PH levels rise as do Co2 levels. If our adrenals are fatigued, our sensitivity to higher PH and Co2 levels, causes us to be jolted awake, just as we fall asleep.

I want to stress something here; always get yourself checked out with some or all of the tests I did above to ensure that you have no underlying condition, but most probably, it is not some underlying condition but instead what I have explained above. So please relax, I know how scary this symptom can be.

Adrenal Fatigue is well documented and all doctors know about it. There are 4 stages to adrenal fatigue and this can be caused/exacerbated by stress in your life-style (even too much exercise can cause it). It is a sneaky one as it creeps up on you and can wreak havoc on your adrenals and eventually, thyroid, causing major sleep disturbance issues.

So here are a few tangible steps I took immediately when I found out the above and I've started to sleep normally again.

a) Cut out white rice, bread or any processed foods (this is not forever, just until I am healed). This is a big big one, the moment I eat this, I get the same heart palpitations/jolts at night.

b) Your last meal should be no later than 7pm at night; make sure it is light. Some lentils/legumes, fish, or chicken but nothing heavy like a pizza followed by chocolate.

c) Magnesium tablet after your dinner meal as this relaxes the muscles. Some doctors recommend melatonin, you may wish to check it out too, I have not tried it.

d) Retire to bed at 9pm with the view to fall asleep by 10pm-11pm, maybe midnight depending on your insomnia type of condition.

e) If you are experiencing the sleeping issues described above, this most likely means your mind/body has experienced recent trauma or excessive levels of stress (you may or may not have realised it consciously). This mean you absolutely need to reduce your intraday stress; ideally get bed rest for a few days.

Literally overnight, doing a-d has entirely removed that strange "jerking" and I am now sleeping.

I understand steps a-e above seem wishy washy but they actually worked very well for me. Your sleep as you are probably well aware is where a good portion of internal body repair occurs; especially in deep delta wave REM sleep. So if you are too bored or lazy to try out the steps a-e above, please do it just for the sake of your sleep-health.

I hope the above helps some of you.

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