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Sleep-Related Symptoms related to Panic Attacks

I am looking for information about a Sleep-Related condition that I have been suffering from since I was about 11 years old (I am now 35). I am a male.

Under certain circumstances I will wake up in a neurological state that is virtually impossible to describe. I can't really connect it to any physical sensation, thoughts, or emotions. I can only describe it as a "phantom sense" that is being overwhelmed with too much input, like a circuit with way too much electricity being forced through it. But if I had to say which snese it is, I couldn't point to any known sense. My hearing, vision, touch, equilibrium, etc. all feel basicslly normal apart from minor disturbances i usual feel after waking up.

Whatever it is, the phantom sense causes overwhelming anxiety. The anxiety is similar to that which occurs while drowning or in claustrophic conditons. The anxiety is a dirext response to the phantom sense, and so it persists as long as the phantom sense does. It can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

Normally this situstion is triggered after having been deprived sleep for an extended period of time, typically 24 to 36 hours, then falling asleep due to exhaustion, then waking up after less than 6 hours (give or take). Drinking caffeine during that period can also aggravate it.

I want to call them "Sleep-Related panic attacks" but that doesn't seem right. I almost feel like it might be some sort of seizure.

These started happening when I was 11 and at the time I was diagnosed with a corn allergy that somehow triggered them. But in my late teens they started to go away, and by my mid twenties they were almost gone. But within the past couple years they have started coming back, and they are now definitely triggered by a long period of deprivation followed by a short period of sleep that gets interrupted suddenly for any reason, whether its internal (like  nightmare or sleep apnea) or being woken up from the sound of other people in the house talking too loudly.

I have always been a light sleeper, and I am prone to anxiety. I also live in a stressful family situation, with house mates who move about and make a lot of daytime noise at pretty much all hours of the night. Having been exposed to this for most of my life I have developed abysmal sleep hygiene, but I've tried everything in my power to do something about it and would seem this is just my lot in life at this point. I see no clear solution to the problem, so at this point I am just trying to get a better understating of what I'm actually experiencing and how I can try to manage the symptoms and look for creative ways to deal with the situation, as conventional solutions seem out of reach.
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Avatar universal
Unsure of your specifics, a doc can help you pinpoint, but can say this.  Sometimes when awakened between sleep cycles -- which is completely normal btw -- and especially between the earlier of the 4 to 6 cycles we experience each night, a reaction such as you describe can occur.  We're disoriented and feel panic-stricken.  This can be due to the rational brain being sort of switched off during the earlier part of the night, and the emotional brain more in charge.  

Risk factors are sleep deprivation and excessive stress, consistent with your experience.  Countering those risks can help you manage going forward.  Consider use of a CBT sleep training system for substance-free, permanent methods to accomplish this.
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