I "forget" to breathe when awake

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I "forget" to breathe when awake

Postby Rita » Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:25 pm

Hi all, I think I have a tendency to hold my breath when awake. It's almost as if I concentrate on doing or thinking something and "forget" to breathe. Have any of you every heard of such a thing.

I'm wondering if that could explain my fatigue. I do sort of feel oxygen deprived or something.

Of course I am 68, cpap since 2/07 after diagnosed with moderate apnea, extremely low adrenal function, fibromyalgia, hypertension, and probably a few more things. Thanks for any insights. Rita
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Postby WearyOne » Wed Apr 25, 2007 1:01 pm

I have found myself doing that as well over the years, even before have OSA. Don't really know why, either. I do find myself kind of short of breath at times since starting treatment, but every test I have shows there's no problem (EKG, chest x-rays, and some type of lung test at the allergist). I finally bought a finger pulse oxymeter on the Internet to check my blood oxygen when I feel like that and it's always great. so--- :?:

Can't really help, but I know what you're talking about. :-)

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Postby Celeste » Wed Apr 25, 2007 1:34 pm

I do the same thing. One pulmonologist said to me "You do stop breathing" but offered no treatment.

You are not alone and if anyone has any idea what causes this, we'd love to know so we can get treatment.
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Postby lynn543 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 1:48 pm

forgetting to breathe when distracted by concentrating hard on something is common for severe anxiety sufferers and can bring on a panic attack ( lots of descriptions of these on the net)
as an anxiety sufferer, I did it and had to treain myself to always keep breathing
I suspect its anxiety rather than apnea

a related problem is the feeling that one must take each breath consciously sometimes
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Postby Celeste » Wed Apr 25, 2007 1:55 pm

So interesting. Question: If you stop breathing in normal conditions (e.g. an environment that does not involve anxiety, like sitting at the dinner table), would it still be related to anxiety?
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I have almost NOOO anxiety, hmm

Postby Rita » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:51 pm

Hi all, and thanks for your responses to my initial question. Sooo interesting. I am not at all an anxious person, I think. I used to be a performer and had SOME natural anxiety when I was scheduled to sing some difficult performances but that's about it.

One of my friends once commented about those of us who hold our breath. Her sister had studied psychology I think. I must ask her about that. Also, I'll try researching. to be continued. Rita
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Postby hhopper » Wed Apr 25, 2007 7:07 pm


I used to "forget to breathe" when I was concentrating on something. That has completely disappeared since I've been on cpap.
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Forgetting to breathe

Postby bgalb » Thu Apr 26, 2007 2:44 pm

I'm not sure about "forgetting" to breathe, but it is a completely natural reaction to stop breathing when you are intensely concentrating on doing some physical task which requires a very steady hand. I do it all the time. I Of course, you eventually must breathe and take in a couple of deep breaths to "catch up"

Actually forgetting to breathe under routine circumstances is something I am not familiar with.
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Postby jpezz » Thu Apr 26, 2007 3:58 pm

I have the same problem. Concentrating on things, I forget to breathe and then have to take in big breaths.

Like what happened just now while I was typing this! Don't know why.

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Postby SirPavlova » Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:49 am

I have this problem too, as does my best friend. Occasionally we don't take a breath in 20-30 seconds, but as soon as we realise, normal automatic movement kicks back in (after a deep breath or two).

In me, it seems to be a problem with focus, only it doesn't happen when I'm focussing too hard on something else, but rather when I'm not focussing on anything at all; I zone out of everything, apparently including basic bodily functions. Her case is less simple: sometimes total absence, & sometimes too much attention on something else.

We're both 20 years old, & I'm pretty sure we're both deficient in quite a few essential trace elements, zinc & magnesium in particular. We're also pretty anxious people, though it manifests completely differently; the problem with that explanation is that this happens even when we're completely at ease; indeed, more often in such circumstances.
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Postby SnoozySuzie » Mon Dec 03, 2007 4:45 pm

Other people do this too? :shock:

Thanks for posting this because I notice my breathing, or not breathing I should say, now that I'm paying attention to it at night. I'll be driving along in my car and notice, hey, I'm not breathing enough. Same thing at the computer. I breathe very shallowly. I'm hoping that my new exercise regimen will help me correct this naturally.
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ooooo...me too, me too!!

Postby Stephead1 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 5:07 pm

I've asked that very same question to my RN sister and she says she's never heard of it. Like the rest of you I suddenly realize that I haven't taken a breath for quite some time and must take lots of deep breaths to make up. It will happen with either complete focus or complete lack thereof...when I'm concentrating really hard OR totally zoned out with my mouth hanging open =P~ . So very, very strange :-k
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Postby saz » Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:42 pm

I wonder if there is a cure for this or maybe just sitting in the correct posture or maintaining a healthy lifestyle would help. I just forgot to breathe while at my desk at work and had to take a deep breath which made me think about looking it up to see if it was a medical problem but there seems to be nothing on google apart from this topic.
I seem to find it a lot worse when I have been out drinking the night before. It never used to happen but now the next day I forget to breathe quite often. Im a healthy 20yr old so I dont know why this has started to happen. It also scares me because it happens more when Im trying to fall asleep later the next day. Ill be drifting off to sleep feeling very relaxed and the next thing I know Im gasping for air and I have to take a very deep breath which makes my heart race. I then find it difficult to sleep because Im scared that if I relax and stop concentrating on something then maybe my brain wont remember to breathe. I only fall asleep out of pure exhaustion after staying awake as long as possible. I wish there was something that could help
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Postby bob278 » Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:32 pm

I'm certainly no expert, but I just had my sleep study and got an explanation of some of the terms. The most common kind of apnea is the obstruction (which I have), but I had a couple of central events as well. It was explained (in simple terms) to me as the brain simply forgetting to signal a breath. Could this be what you are experiencing? Since the body will go into overdrive to get oxygen, I don't see this as a problem where you would die because you just quit breathing.

Still, if this happens frequently when you are going to asleep or you wake up from sleep like that, perhaps a sleep study would detect it and a CPAP might help. Of course, that won't work for when you are awake and mobile. Even if you couldn't get a machine through insurance, it may be possible to rent one for a month or so to see if you get help. If you do, then a relatively inexpensive machine might be worth it. I think you have to have a prescription to get one, but a good doctor should be willing to help you out if it would make you sleep better.
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Postby onesleepytruckdriver » Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:54 pm

I'm curious as to wether this could be habit or not. I mean, for those of us with OSA, we have been training our bodies to breath a certain way over the years. Could these episodes be merely our bodies way of acting on a sleeptime habit while we are awake? I too have noticed that I stop breathing or hold my breath at times. I'll suddenly become concious of the fact that my lungs aren't exchanging gases anymore and will make a concious effort to breath until I distract myself again and go back into autopilot. Could this be OSA playing out while I'm awake simply because my body has been trained to breath this way?
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