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Heart stopping moments before sleep.

(49 Posts)
naughtynanny Tue 19-Apr-16 12:14:59

Does anyone else experience this, it is terrifying, any advice?
I go to bed quite relaxed and read for about 30 minutes. But as I drift off to sleep, all of a sudden I get a really scary feeling that my heart is stopping and I'm dying! It jolts me wide awake and I have to sit up and gasp for breath. This happens 3 or 4 times every night. It makes no difference what side I lay on, or what food I've eaten. Help!

Falconbird Tue 19-Apr-16 12:18:51

I've had this sensation on and off since I was a small child.

I used to call it falling off the pavement. I only get it once, just as I fall sleep.

I have no idea what causes it but maybe other grans are more knowledgeable.

Elegran Tue 19-Apr-16 13:11:53

It is probably just the sensation that everything is relaxed and your conscious mind is switching off, but if it bothers you, then go to the doctor and get yourself checked out. It is very unlikely that your heart really stops, but if you have eliminated genuine problems, then perhaps whatever in your subconscious mind is objecting to you switching off and going to sleep may be silenced.

Are you a smoker? I was once tested for a similar problem by wearing a breathing monitor for a night - the whole equipment stank of stale smoke from previous patients who presumably were heavy smokers.

Is your bedroom well ventilated? Are you too warm in bed? Changing something may make a difference. Even lifting the head of the bed a little may be enough.

ninathenana Tue 19-Apr-16 13:19:23

I do sometimes jolt strongly just as I'm drifting off. Enough to lift me slightly off the bed.
I've never thought of it as 'heart stopping' more as Elegran says a jolt into consciousness as every thing shuts down. Annoying but harmless as far as I know.

gettingonabit Tue 19-Apr-16 13:59:35

I get this too afaik it's perfectly normal. I also get random clangings and bangings in my head just before I go to sleep.

Weird.

kittylester Tue 19-Apr-16 14:48:21

I get it too but in my case I'm falling off a moving bus! confused

TriciaF Tue 19-Apr-16 14:52:39

Another one here who gets it.
It's annoying, I seem to be drifting away nicely when bump! It's like a bunnyhop in my chest.
Glad to know it's normal though, because I have had heart problems in the past.

Luckygirl Tue 19-Apr-16 15:06:57

Me too - OH once explained to me what it was - something about the sympathetic nervous system. He didn't seem bothered.

Katek Tue 19-Apr-16 17:25:09

I'm going over a cliff edge when it happens to me-was also talking about salt and pepper last night as I fell off! Bizarre but harmless.

Elrel Tue 19-Apr-16 17:30:42

I get it too, have had it most of my life. It's occasional and has never been mentioned in connection with the heart disease I have developed. I don't feel scared and don't quite fully wake. I go straight off to sleep very soon after the 'jump'.

bookdreamer Tue 19-Apr-16 20:19:14

I think if you're waking up breathless 3-4 times a night you need to see your doctor.

SueDonim Tue 19-Apr-16 20:28:41

Another who gets the same 'falling' sensation when going to sleep. It's annoying but I hadn't considered that it was a physical warning. Lately I've been getting the loud bangs or the doorbell or the phone ringing noises sensations. I do not know what that is about! confused

pompa Tue 19-Apr-16 20:36:59

If you check your pulse, does it actually stop ?.. If it does, this could be an ectopic heart beat. I suffered from them for some while. It was caused by a combination of stress and too much caffeine, once I eliminated one of these (the caffeine) the problem diminished. My Dr. carried out an ECG, confirmed the problem and refered me to a consultant. The end result was that it was not considered serious. and no action other than reducing caffeine was taken.

However if you really think your heart is stopping, you should get it checked out, most doctors can perform an ECG at their surgery.

Indinana Tue 19-Apr-16 20:51:45

Another one here. I get the sudden sensation of falling and it does jolt me awake, but not wide awake and I usually get off to sleep soon after. Another sensation I get frequently is what feels like an electrical current zinging through my head, horizontally from one ear to the other. It can be very strong, or quite mild. It is aural as well as sensory . The strong ones are really quite loud in my head! And like the 'falling' sensation, I am generally asleep pretty soon afterwards.

rileysgran Tue 19-Apr-16 21:19:15

I'm really pleased to hear that I'm not the only one. I've suffered this on & off for years & can really sympathise with you, naughtynanny The sensation is so horrible & can happen several times a night - so bad that I dread going to sleep. I read up on the internet & it does seem to be normal - albeit unpleasant. It sometimes seems to be a symptom of tiredness - which is a pain because I only get more tired, waking myself up like this!

I have recently been diagnosed with an erratic heart beat which is also deemed to be normal - but as I wasn't suffering from the 'jerking' problem at the time, I forgot to ask if it might be related.

I would still suggest that you get checked out just to sure, though.

pompa Tue 19-Apr-16 21:21:13

This feeling of falling just as you go to sleep is called a A hypnic jerk or hypnagogic jerk, this web page explains all. I get these, but it not the same as the ectopic heartbeat, that is apparent when you are conscious, especially when laying quietly in bed.

www.sleepeducation.org/news/2013/08/22/sleep-starts

harrigran Tue 19-Apr-16 21:53:34

I know what you mean about feeling your heart is stopping. I get this and it is not the same as falling off the kerb as you are falling asleep. Falling off the kerb does not give the panic feeling that the heart stop does.

rubysong Tue 19-Apr-16 22:05:33

I sometimes get the tripping up jolt just as I am falling asleep and sometimes, when asleep, think I hear the phone. Just one ring and I'm awake. I've never understood it but I imagine it is in my head.

crun Wed 20-Apr-16 01:25:30

I was already getting ectopics for donkeys years before developing AF, sometimes the room does a pirouette as it misses a beat, sometimes not. I've had my heart stopped altogether several times, and it intrigues me that there's no loss of consciousness at all then though. confused I don't know how long it takes before you pass out, but I can vouch that it's more than 5 or 6 seconds.

pompa Wed 20-Apr-16 06:36:16

As I understand ectopic heartbeats, the heart doesn't actually stop (the pulse does). What happens is that another part of the heart muscle initiates the heartbeat, which means that it beats, but fails to pump, the heart continues to fill with blood and when the next correct beat occurs (usually within 1 or 2 beats) the heart is fuller than normal and you can get a sensation of the thump in your chest.

Stimulants such as caffeine are what can cause this faulty initiation of the heart muscle.

Maywalk Wed 20-Apr-16 10:50:19

Yes I get it to and I have a pacemaker.

pollyperkins Wed 20-Apr-16 11:56:29

I do get rhe jerking awake thing (so does DH) and also hear phone ring (when it hasnt) the more worrying thing for me is being half awake but paralysed and sometimes unable to breathe properly. Its a relief to wake up properly but if Im now ceredul will slip right back into it. Its horrible. Have always had it

Helena1 Wed 20-Apr-16 13:17:14

Most nights when I've decided it's time to sleep, and I've put down my book and switched off the lamp, I get a stomach-flipping sensation much like going over a hump-backed bridge in the back seat of a car - it doesn't happen if I accidentally drift off to sleep while reading or watching TV so it must be something to do with the conscious effort of getting to sleep. I usually find it helps if I focus on my breathing and try to relax...

crun Wed 20-Apr-16 13:30:12

pompa The occasions I was referring to when my heart stopped were when the doctors have used Adenosine to stop it completely, but I don't understand why I feel less when that happens than when I get an ectopic. It seems back to front.

pompa Wed 20-Apr-16 14:18:43

I was told that an ectopic beat was more dramatic because the heart continues to fill with blood whilst it is beating incorrectly. When it beats correctly it pumps far more blood than normal on that beat making it feel like a thump in the chest and far more noticeable.