Friday, September 30, 2011

Can't Breathe

Dear Peregrin,

I have had a recurring dream now for years. I must say it comes at least once every two months or so and quite frightening.

It is like someone is trying to harm me with their presence. I feel them quite strongly and I cannot breathe and my first reaction is to block them - in the dream - it just doesn't feel like a dream if you know what I mean.

When this person "comes" I feel them and my whole body tenses up - especially my face and of course as I said I cannot breathe - but I have found that once I start praying they eventually go away. I don't know how I learned to pray during a dream - but I do. It is a very strange feeling.

I don't know what to do about this. I would be grateful if you have an explanation for it all.

Thanks alot for your help.


Good morning, Lev.

I have had nearly identical experiences, and did not know what to make of them - the sense of a malevolent presence, accompanied by the inability to breath, broken only by an effort of will - or, in your case, faith.

For me, the answer was actually very mundane, yet important enough that I feel I should pass it on: sleep apnea. Your breathing may actually be stopping several times a night.

There are a few things you can do to test this hypothesis:

If you have a partner, have that person monitor you for one night and see if you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more. Actually, the entire night isn't necessary, there should be some indication within 90 minutes. One hint: If you snore, then you may have this condition.

Or, if your insurance will cover this, have your doctor recommend a sleep study. It means one night in a hospital hooked up to monitors - uncomfortable, but not painful.

If neither of these options is available, try sleeping in a different position than you normally do. Apnea usually occurs while sleeping on one's back, so try a side. My panic dreams always stopped when I did this.

If it turns out that you do have this condition, there are several options that your doctor will discuss with you. I opted for surgery to widen the air passage and have never regretted that decision.

Good luck, and pleasant dreams.


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