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Episodes of stop breathing while sleeping. Treatment?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 2011
Answered : 5139 Questions
can your heart stop during sleep and then restart?
I have been having episodes periodically where upon first drifting off to sleep it seems as if my heart stops or I stop breathing and my whole body jerks away...this only occurs within minutes of me first drifting off to sleep and doesnt happen every night...please let me know what can cause this for I have no insurance and am afraid it might be something serious and i'm scared to go to sleep
Posted Wed, 30 May 2012 in Heart Rate and Rhythm Disorders
Answered by Dr. Aashish Raghu 39 minutes later
Hi there.

Thanks for the query.

Do you have chest pain, shortness of breath, racing heartbeat ?

Do you get enough sleep at night ?

Any recent change in environment, job, stress levels ?

The features you described fits in with the myoclonic jerks which are experienced usually in those drifting off to sleep. It is also known as Sleep myoclonus.

In this condition, just while drifting off to sleep, or even in light sleep state, a part of the body suddenly flings away or makes a jerky movement.

This can be associated in 5% persons with insomnia. If you feel you have unrefreshing sleep then it could be because of some habit of yours which needs to be attended to.

Avoid smoking, alcohol, coffee, colas, energy drinks or atleast reduce them to bare minimum and avoid consuming them unnecessarily during the evenings, as these tend to increase chances of insomnia and also Sleep myoclonus. Avoid high protein diet at night like meat. Try a good carbohydrate diet with banana and milk at night. This will help bring you natural sleep.

Avoid stress and long work hours. Do Yoga for stress relief. Practice XXXXXXX breathing techniques to relieve yourself of stress. Do daily brisk walking for 40 minutes a day as this releases relaxing chemicals in your body called endorphins which help in achieving natural undisturbed sleep and also relieves stress. Drink 1-2 litres of water daily. Get 6-8 hours of sleep daily.

If you have trouble sleeping, you may need to consult a Psychiatrist or Sleep Therapist who will demonstrate good relaxation techniques and also prescribe necessary medication to tide over this problem and improve sleep-wake cycle.

Take adequate precautions and treatment for Anxiety and Degenerative disc disease. Avoid lying down immediately after meal as this can increase chances of GERD attacks. Lie down only after half an hour after eating food. Avoid heavy, spicy, oily meals.

I hope I have answered your query. I will be available to answer your follow up queries.

Wishing good health.


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