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Heart & Cardiology/start to fall asleep then suddenly wake up with strange feeling in chest


Chuck wrote at 2007-07-15 06:25:27
I have the same thing occur. I have been tested with futter under full stress test. Resently my arms are now falling asleep when above my chest at night too. IT only happens when I am sleeping or subsleep. No other time. And it is happening. Something I dont think I should ignore

Saam wrote at 2008-10-14 14:51:15
I have this exact same thing!!

It's normally accompanied by a buzzing sensation in my head and body.

It's horrible because i can be really tired (like last night) and drift off to sleep and then suddenly for no reason just wake up with my chest going and head buzzing. I can be asleep for anywhere from 5 minutes to a couple of hours and still suddenly wake up with this sensation. It's very scary.

After doing a bit of research i think it is a symptom of anxiety. Even if you don't think you're anxious or stressed about anything it's a condition that can surface for apparently no reason.

I don't think it's anything to worry about though, i find if i get it, i'll put the tv on and the background noise almost distracts my mind from the panic attacks.....much like your fan.

Hope this puts your mind at ease a bit.

Robert wrote at 2008-12-06 04:06:23
Hello, Just to comment that exactly the same situation happens to me often. I was looking for info about this, because it is an unpleasant sensation were the hear accelerates its rhythm sometimes, other times I fell like a vacuum or may be a sensation of liquids flowing under pressure in the center of my chest, it is hard to describe but it is something like that.

8bitBoy wrote at 2009-02-02 15:30:16
I too suffer from exactly the same thing. Has gone on for a while now. One thing I have noticed is that my breathing gets very shallow at the 'falling' stage of going to sleep. I suffer from stress and I am usually very tense, and I have a feeling this has something to do with it!! Not sure if this helps, but with luck it may put some light on the situation. Good luck!

MO wrote at 2009-03-16 07:47:33

I do the same thing at night.  It's been happening more regular lately.  I'm like you, if I have a fan or some kind of sound in the background it seems to help me.  Have you found any other possible reasons for this?  I don't know if I'm just paranoid or what.

Linda C wrote at 2009-11-03 22:46:58
Hello, i am 26 years old and I have the same problem.

As soon as I fall asleep I wake up with a massive jump. I am usually gasping for breath and I feel very strange, like  my heart is beating out of control. It's very scary and frustrating because I can't get to sleep. Lately it has been getting worse and last night I didn't get a wink of sleep. This  morning I'm feeling very dizzy and I have the shakes.

I've been to the drs many times about this, had ecgs and tests and there's nothing wrong with my heart. He suggested its  a physcological thing?

Kim K wrote at 2010-07-22 16:34:33
I have had this same problem on and off for several years. I wake up about usually within an hour of falling asleep with my heart racing and my hands trembling. It is very unnerving and disorienting. I have recently correlated that it has to do with stimulants too close to bed time. Sugar seems to be a major culprit for me. Try cutting out sugar and caffeine and see if this helps.  

Tal wrote at 2010-09-28 05:11:48
The same thing happens to me for the last few months. I fall asleep for maybe 20 minutes or so and then suddenly just wake up as if an alarm went off. It then takes me a while to fall back asleep. It is so bizarre. I would love to know what to do for this, or what is causing it.


denice wrote at 2011-07-14 15:48:27
I have these symptons also!  What IS IT?  Drives me crazy!  

AndrewH wrote at 2011-07-27 17:10:00
Hi, this has recently started happening to me and I think I have sussed out the answer. Im not medically trained but I connected the dots during the day today when I was incredibly tired due to an endless night of this happening last night. If anyone else finds tingling in arms or legs to go with this we might be experiencing the same thing. I think what’s happening is as we lay down we are cutting off circulation to an arm (in my case) but maybe a leg would work as well. As the arm becomes less and less filled with blood, tingling might occur and even continue when not in bed due to a prolonged repetition of this. As you move in your sleep, the arm is instantly filling with blood when it can, the circulatory system over compensates as it think’s its been injured, the heart BPM rises, blood pressure changes and in my case I was finding a massive adrenaline rush which again is probably the bodies reaction to the quick change but not good for sleep.

The answer – find out where the problem is occurring and prop the limb in a comfortable fashion so the blood can flow freely.  

Jamie wrote at 2012-08-02 15:33:14
The same thing happens to me at night.. it's terrifying, I'll have recently fallen asleep and I awake seemingly paralized, can not move although I'm screaming out inside my head trying to fight it, and my chest feels a ton of pressure as well it's tingling like my entire chest area has fallen asleep, sometimes this feeling is accompanied by ringing in my ears or a high pitched squealing in my ears... And then I finally can move so I jump up and then am afraid to fall back asleep again, only because, Many times I've tried to go back to sleep only to have it continue to happen!! As if I'm not under enough stress, now I'm unable to get my proper rest, It's a catch 22.

Gatsby wrote at 2012-08-26 23:48:02
I get this a lot and I agree with the person who suggested its about constricted blood flow. I feel it massively in my head, like it's going to explode. I sleep on my front with my arms under me. Is this common? It stops happening if I let one arm drop by my side. Hope this helps, and just reading this thread has been a good thing for me. Good luck.

Chris wrote at 2013-05-07 16:16:15
Hello, I to have been having this strange feeling in my chest. I awake abruptly. I have tried explaining this to my Doctor but cant seem to describe what is happening. It happens to me 2-3 times a month. It is very disturbing and yes scary when it happens. This may sound ridiculous but I'm thinking that maybe I stop breathing or my body stops functioning to some extent and somehow I tell myself to wake up and when I do my body goes into a recovery or something along those lines. It normally takes about 2 minutes until I feel normal again. This morning I went to my doctor and tried explaining this again, he seemed frustrated and said he never heard of such a thing. He did scheduled me for a stress test next week.

george127 wrote at 2014-07-24 00:17:54
Its been happening to me for years.  However, did anyone actually check their pulse?  I doze off, then wake up suddenly and it feels as though my heart is beating out of control.  However, I check my pulse and it is normal, so I don't think its the heart.

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David Richardson


Adult heart function and disease. Not very good about children lesss than 12. Hypertension is o.k. Heart rhythm a special interest.


Certified in cardiology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Was chairman of division of cardiology at the Medical College of Virginia. Am now mostly retired.

Fellow of American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology and member of American Physiological Society..

Circulation, American Heart Journal, Hypertension.

M.D. from Harvard Medical School. Residency training at Yale Uhniversity School of Medicine and Medical College of Virginia.

Awards and Honors
Gold Heartt Award from American Heart Association in 1995.

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