Sleeping disorder?
December 21, 2005 10:18 AM   Subscribe

My girlfriend breathes very rapidly and loudly while she sleeps; not all the time, but often enough. She never stops breathing. But her breaths are short/shallow, rather loud (but not the same as a snore), very quick and the rate between breaths and the length of the breaths vary between just about every breath. Anyone know what's going on here?
posted by Witty to Health & Fitness (21 answers total)
My guess... sleep apnea caused by partial air pipe restriction..rapid breathing is CO2 elimination due to same.
posted by spicynuts at 10:20 AM on December 21, 2005

Sounds like a mild sleep apnea, but I'm no doctor.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:22 AM on December 21, 2005

Response by poster: Yea, I was leaning that way too. But the "stops breathing" part made me think something else may be going on here.
posted by Witty at 10:22 AM on December 21, 2005

Response by poster: I've never noticed her NOT breathing, even for a second. But I've never stayed up all night to make sure either. Maybe I should. But these symptoms seem pretty accurate:

"The most common symptom of OSA is excessive sleepiness. Other symptoms of OSA may include morning headaches, dry mouth, snoring, trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, or depression."
posted by Witty at 10:24 AM on December 21, 2005

Nah, you don't have to stop breathing to have diminshed air flow. Seems to me partial blockage could cause the same problem. A trip to a sleep clinic for a consultation is a good idea. I've done it. I've got a CPAP machine. The machine itself doesn't do shit, but knowing that I have sleep apnea at least is helping me pursue other means of alleviating the problem.
posted by spicynuts at 10:28 AM on December 21, 2005

Cpap machine works great for my hubby but his sleep apnea was pretty severe. He DID stop breathing. A lot.
posted by konolia at 10:31 AM on December 21, 2005

Yeah, let me clarify, because I don't mean to disparage CPAPs at all. My statement should read "CPAP machine didn't do shit for me".

Sorry bout that.
posted by spicynuts at 10:36 AM on December 21, 2005

Response by poster: Should these breathing characteristics be happening every night? Or is possible that she could have "good" nights and "bad" nights? Or is it possible that I've just managed to randomly sleep through this annoyance {snicker}, which is leading me to believe that she's experiencing this problem only occassionally?

I should point out that we live separately and only share a bed a few nights a week... sometimes more, sometimes less. So I really have no idea how often this goes on.
posted by Witty at 10:37 AM on December 21, 2005

Do the "bad nights" correspond to her alcohol use?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:39 AM on December 21, 2005

Response by poster: I don't think so, no. Last night was a bad night, for example. All we did was do a little Christmas shopping, wrapped them, got in bed to read, passed out.

She does smoke, which is obviously not a good idea for a variety of reasons.
posted by Witty at 10:43 AM on December 21, 2005

What is her weight like? I don't know how to say this delicately, but additional weight is a big cause of apnea. Also, sleep position may factor in. Does she do it less when she sleeps on her side or on her stomach? If so, you can sew a tennis ball into the back of a tshirt and have her wear that to will condition her not to lay on her back. Band-aid fix, but worth a try while she goes for a sleep test, etc.
posted by spicynuts at 10:46 AM on December 21, 2005

Response by poster: Position doesn't seem to make a difference. She sleeps on her side most of the time anyway. She is overweight, but I wouldn't go so far as to say obese. She's gained most of this weight over the last couple of years. But I seem to remember her having this 'breathing thing' problem ever since I've known her... a little over 4 years. Now that I think about it, I'm pretty certain that this doesn't happen every night.
posted by Witty at 10:51 AM on December 21, 2005

Witty if she has insurance I really think a sleep clinic consultation can't hurt and could probably tremendously help, even if it's only to eliminate OSA as the culprit.
posted by spicynuts at 10:56 AM on December 21, 2005

Response by poster: I agree. We're talking about that now. Thanks!
posted by Witty at 11:04 AM on December 21, 2005

Good Luck! If she gets a sleep test, try to get some pictures of her head all wired up. It's really funny.
posted by spicynuts at 11:13 AM on December 21, 2005

Response by poster: Haha! I will... and perhaps post them for all the world to see.
posted by Witty at 11:17 AM on December 21, 2005

She's having sex dreams. Maybe about you.
posted by secret about box at 1:51 PM on December 21, 2005

Hm, that post could've had some informational aspect, I suppose.

I once dated a girl who would do weird breathing things in her sleep, usually because of bad dreams. She wouldn't remember them when she woke up, most of the time, but you could tell when she was sleeping.

How erratic is your chica's breathing?
posted by secret about box at 1:53 PM on December 21, 2005

Just to chime in, I have sleep problems, although I'm not sure specifically what they are. I suspect sleep apnea, because sometimes I have dreams about things like swimming underwater, and I'm aware that I've been holding my breath. I don't know what comes first, the dream or the breath-holding.

Anyway, I've recently bought myself a sleeptracker watch. I've been recording my sleep for the last few nights, and it looks like I'm averaging 17 minutes of uninterrupted sleep per night. The leaflet that comes with it says "20-30 minutes is not unusual". The one night my girlfriend wore it she averaged over 30 minutes. She always wakes up before me, feeling far more refreshed than me!

I think what I'm trying to say is that it might be a complex matter worth digging into :-) The Sleeptracker isn't a scientific device, I'm just using it for my own purposes.
posted by ajp at 2:45 PM on December 21, 2005

Sounds like she's dreaming about chasing mice, or possibly rabbits.
posted by krisjohn at 10:22 PM on December 21, 2005

Response by poster: How erratic is your chica's breathing?

Well, like I said, she breathes very quickly... almost as though she's just finished running (but not quite that out of breath). But the breaths aren't as deep and full as someone who has just finished running; they're much more shallow. The best way I can think to describe it is... imagine someone trying to blow out a cake full of candles, one at a time, with their nose.

The exhale is more forceful than the inhale. The other characteristic is the length (or the time between each breath) varies with just about every breath... meaning, it's not a rhythmic patterned cadence at all. The differences aren't huge per se, just not the same... like someone that snores. The incessant repetition of a snorer isn't there, thankfully.
posted by Witty at 1:25 PM on December 22, 2005

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