I have had the same exact thing over many years sporadically. I will wake up from a sound sleep, doesnt matter if its laying down in bed or napping on the recliner, and I cant breathe - cant draw in breath at all for a few seconds. It seems like a life time and you feel like you are going to die!! What I learned about this for me personally is that it was related to sleep apnea although obstructive and not central. Now as I said, this is me personally. Before I had my sleep study ( and its the main thing that prompted me to go for a sleep study ) I learned a trick that worked for me. First of all, try not to panic. I know thats easier said than done but panicking makes it worse. I was told what was happening is that my airway had collapsed and created a sort of vacuum. The harder you try to gasp in a breath ( and do you always try to do this by instinctively opening your mouth to gulp in a breath?? ), the more vacuum pressure it creates. The trick is to apply a counter to the vacuum pressure. What works for me is breathing through my nose slowly. No mouth breathing to get a breath at all. I find that I had no problem then in breathing and after a few long seconds, my airway would relax enough to be able to breathe through my mouth again. The other thing that will usually work if breathing through your nose does not, is applying the counter pressure by blowing a little breath out. I know this is really hard to do when you are in a panic becuz you cant breathe, but try it if the nose breathing doesnt help. I have tried both ways and they both work. At any rate, in my case, the sleep doctor said this was definitely apnea related, my sleep study showed apnea events of in the high 90's per hour and I am now on a bipap machine and I have not had any trouble at all. Hope this helps!!