British Lung Foundation
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Hi everyone, i hope the weather is not too much for any of you to cope with. I have a symptom that i have never really understood. I can be feeling quite alert and fully awake, then, i find myself dropping off to sleep. It happens so unexpectedly, also if my breathing is very bad it can be frightening because i feel as if i have stopped breathing for a few seconds. Is this a common symptom, or is it me?

Any help appreciated. Hot weather is making it worse of course.

24 Replies

This has certainly been happening to me just recently. I put it down to a combination of old age, and lack of sleep because of the heat. I'm no football fan but the World Cup thing has caught my interest. On at least two occasions I've been watching matches on TV, with interest, then suddenly realised that goals had been scored which I hadn't even seen happen. I had nodded off without noticing. Very strange.

Hi Don, the heat might be making it worse but i have been getting it for the last couple of years. It does change though, sometimes it is every day then i may have weeks without it happening. Very odd.

PS. I hate football and would definately fall asleep if it came on. Lol

Hi Sheila, I read your comment with interest because I have had this sleeping problem for over five years and it’s severe and ruining my life. I looked at your profile to find out some info and I’m sorry you have COPD. It’s such a varied condition isn’t it? I don’t have COPD but I’m just wondering if your on home oxygen? I have a large tumour on my heart which is affecting my breathing and the amount of oxygen in my blood. So I’m on oxygen 24/7. I fall asleep at such random times, eg, watching tv, reading, sat on the toilet, (stop laughing lol) and even when I’m eating . The doctors are baffled as to what’s causing it. I’m sure they think I’m exaggerating, but it really is that bad ! So I sympathise with you'. Maybe the link is the breathing then? Do you have any hormone problems, or are you under an endocrinologist? I’m actually falling asleep now.

I’m here to swap notes Sheila, because I’m hoping we can get to the bottom of this problem? X

Bi Mary ( love the name ) thanks for answering my query. It is driving me crazy too. I can even have people in the room, mid conversation I just drop off. It is embarrassing as well as frightening. I am not on oxygen at this point as i struggled to quit smoking. I have finally managed it, now i only have half of one if i am mega stressed out. Sorry about your heart problem, that sounds really scary as well. Can they operate on it? I don’t have a hormone problem ,as far as i know anyway. Do you? I must remember to ask my consultant.

How does this heat affect you?

Have you been tested for sleep apnoea at all? I wonder if that could be one reason for your daytime sleep problem.

No i have never been tested for it. I have heard of it though. I will do a bit of research on it. My GP is leaving the practice this week and who knows when the replacement will arrive, or whatthey will be like. Cannot be worse anyway.

Thanks for the suggestion though, i will follow it up.

Thanks a million. X

I do have sleep apnea. I wore the cpap machine but it didn’t help with the daytime sleepiness. How about you Sheila?

Hi Mary, no i have never been checked for it, although reading some of the replies to my post, it hasto be a possibility. Did you find anything to help with it during the day? I already take so many meds i don’t want to add any but needs must, this is scary. I hope things are a bit better for you and that you found an answer to replace the machine.

Take care❤️

I have severe obstructive Sleep Apnea, found out over the phone yesterday. It’s no worse than normal but since being told, ‘officially’, I hate the thought of falling asleep. Dead tired now but as soon as I start to go, I jolt awake short of breath 😒 so so tired 💤..


Do you use a CPAP or BIPAP machine? If not, you should ask the doctor to order one. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea over a year ago and have been using a cpap every night since.


Hi, I have the same sleep problem even when I am really into something, suddenly I've gone then missed it. Haven't got a magic cure unfortunately, but your are not alone. I don't have the effect of losing a breath tho'.


in reply to lKeith

Hi Keith, thanks for replying to my post. It helps to know i am not alone. It is awful sometimes when i am talking to someone onnthe phone, then i have to say, i must go as i am falling asleep. How rude does that sound . Lol . Of course i am not that blunt with people, they must think that they have bored me to sleep. ❤️

I have a mild form of the problem you describe - fall asleep when watching TV or even when reading murder mysteries, the novels I like best - I put it down to shortage of oxygen because of my having very severe COPD, but I find it gets worse when my quarterly blood test shows a vitamin B12 deficiency (which also gives me dizziness and leg cramps). In short, I have learned that lack of B12 can cause a loadful of problems and wanted to suggest that you might consider it as a concause.

in reply to INK45

Hi Ink, thanks for answering my query. I also thought it was due to a shortage of oxygen but i never thought about B12. There is a good possibility that you are right, my mother had to have B12 Injections every month. If we missed it for any reason she would lose all her energy. This makes me have a little hope that things can improve, B12 could be a great place to start. Sorry to hear that your copd is severe, it must be really difficult in this weather.

Keep cool,

Thanks very much x

in reply to sheila1kerry

Hope it helps, let me know if it does !!

best wishes from (very, almost exceedingly) sunny Mallorca where we live

x x x

in reply to INK45

You are very lucky to be living in Mallorca as i am sure the air is much cleaner. Also it is a beautiful place.

Enjoy your day x

in reply to INK45


May I suggest a sleep study if possible to see if you have sleep apnea, or if your oxygen level drops while you sleep? You should probably have a blood test to rule out any deficiencies? If everything checks out, ask the doctor about the possibility of having narcolepsy.

Hi Katherine, another great suggestion. There is such a wealth of knowledge on this site, i find it incredible. People on here are more clued up than most of the doctors and healthworkers. They also seem to care a lot more. When i think back over the past five to six years ,when my breathing problems started to show, i am disgusted at my treatment. I know NHS is under terrible pressure, but when you hear they find the time to give boob jobs and other operations of that nature, it makes me crazy. Having said that , my consultant ,who i see every six months, will get things done, and promptly as well.

Many thanks, sorry for ranting - it is hot in here today. ❤️

I hope you start to feel better soon.

I agree, it is hot, humid and uncomfortable.

Thanks for the kind thoughts. ❤️

A lot of people who very kindly replied to my post suggested asking my GP for various tests. My answer to that is , your GP must be very different to mine. If i phone up the surgery to ask to see the doctor, three to four weeks is the usual response. Since i was diagnosed with COPD three years ago, i have seen my GP maybe six times. I am in inner London , they are so overloaded that they do not have time. If you getto see them,you can feel them running out the door , even as you try to talk to them. My consultant though is great so i will live with it until i see him, at least he will get things done.

Thanks to everyone who answered my query. I really appreciate all the advice and genuine concern you all show. It gives me back some hope for the human race. There really are some very good people in this world . ❤️❤️❤️

I'm another person who's doing this. It's been going on fire several years. I almost always have at least a little warning, which is usually enough to pull into a parking lot, but can be only long enough to sit down. Twice I've been sitting at a restaurant when I became unable to stay awake. The first time I was with my family and they laughed as I tried to keep from falling completely asleep before I repositioned myself so my face didn't land in my did. The second time I was alone and when I realized it was happening I decided I was safe. I took so long to wake up fully, though I woke somewhat at one point long enough to tell the waitress I was fine, but hadn't slept well. They got so worried they called the police who brought an ambulance. I was walking out awake when they all pulled up. It's really frightening.

I have and use an automatic CPAP, which I've used for years. It always shows less than 3 episodes per hour, and is usually under 2. I sleep between 5 and 10 hours per night, averaging almost 7. It's this low because I have significant chronic pain problems.

I have blood sugar numbers that are usually normal and sometimes shoot up to about 200. I have worn a heart monitor for a week without it showing anything. My doctor has no other ideas, though I'm wondering if I might have some sort of seizures.

It happens to me all the time I will be doing a puzzle and drop off or watching tv and I also get breathless and have to stand and breathe deeply and slowly as possible. I don't know if age is a reason I am 73

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