Hi and welcome to the forum,
You know, I have heard a number of people describe dreaming of not breathing. Many describe waking up gasping. And those were later tested and diagnosed with sleep apnea.
And it's true that many people who have sleep apnea aren't aware of it until someone else takes notice. Some are surprised to learn they have apnea. Others are aware of strange dreams or having problems breathing upon awakening. For those who don't notice anything, I suspect they might not reach REM sleep often enough, or don't reach deep sleep, or they are just not as aware as others as they wake up.
I don't remember dreams of sleep, but I frequently woke up, bolted up in bed, wondering why was it that I didn't want to lie down, especially since I was so utterly exhausted. I later realized I was having trouble catching my breath while sleeping, but it took a long time to notice it.
Anything that indicates trouble breathing is worth taking seriously. Your description alone should be enough to warrant seeing a sleep specialist, perhaps a pulmonologist. Do you have any other symptoms of sleep apnea? Are you more tired during the day, have any morning headaches, or any other symptoms? Even if you don't have other or few other symptoms, it could be sleep apnea. Not everyone who has apnea exhibits most of the symptoms.
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