In ancient Greek mythology, Sleep was considered the twin brother of Death. For centuries death and sleep always seems to go hand in hand.
Death like taxes is unavoidable. In fact, the grim reaper is known to creep up on its unexpected victims like a thief in the night. Given the average person sleeps one third of their entire life, dying in sleep is more common than you think.
Dying In Sleep
Dying while sleeping seems to be the most peaceful and pain-free way to die. But is it really the case? But what goes wrong when we die in our sleep; how does it even happen in the first place?
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As it turns out, the phrase “dying peacefully in their sleep” might not be as accurate as we think. There are still some intriguing (yet somewhat frightening) things that take place when our conscious brains shut down and our bodies begin the sleeping phase. And sometimes, the results can be completely terrifying.
When The Grim Reaper Knocks At Night
So when does sleep become dangerous? Well in some cases there is a fine line between dying overnight (especially when healthy) and dying during the final stages of ones life (terminally ill). There seems to be more of a stigma with young people dying in their sleep as opposed to the old.
Although death can be a distressing topic to discuss for some, in this article we will show you the main reasons why death occurs in our sleep, and if it can be avoidable. Here are the top 5 ways how you die in your sleep and the pain level experienced.
#1. Cardiac Arrest
Death associated with the heart is one of the main contributing factors when someone dies in their sleep. Cardiac arrest is a sudden loss of blood flow resulting from the failure of the heart to pump effectively. Cardiac arrests occur when a diseased heart’s electrical system malfunctions. Underlying medical conditions including sudden heart attack, stroke, arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats), and congestive heart failure.
Pain level from Cardiac Arrest is 3 out of 10. Unless you wake up you men report chest pain while women commonly report shortness of breath. You might be too dizzy or incoherent to wake up and call for help. The subject then falls unconscious then passes away.
#2. Respiratory Arrest
The lungs and the heart complement each other. When one of the systems fail, the other will follow suit. Respiratory arrest is in fact caused by apnea (cessation of breathing) or respiratory dysfunction harsh enough that it cannot sustain the body. A gradual decrease occurs before going for a temporary stop in breathing. Upper airway obstruction may occur in infants < 3 months, who are usually nose breathers and thus may have upper airway obstruction secondary to nasal blockage.
Pain level from a respiratory arrest is 2 out of 10. The process is not “painful” at least at first, however the increase of carbonic acid in your blood causes you to feel nauseous, though while asleep it might not be felt. Respiratory failure may also occur due to a chronic, degenerative disease, such as:
- Chronic Bronchitis
- Covid 19
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Cystic fibrosis
- Lung cancer
- Status asthmaticus
- Pulmonary embolism
#3. Trauma, Drug Abuse, Toxins
In many cases, death tends to be more of an external factor, either connected from the environment or another outside source. Homicides, natural disasters and carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty ventilation contribute to dying in your sleep.
Furthermore, medications that are used to treat insomnia and pain may increase the risk of dying in your sleep. A high probability occurs when these drugs are taken in excess resulting in an overdose or used with alcohol.
#4. Sudden Death Syndrome
Sudden death syndrome (SDS) or dream disease is a list of cardiac syndromes that cause sudden cardiac arrest and possibly death. Some are linked with structural problems within the heart, while others may be the result of irregularities within the electrical channels.
Sudden arrhythmic death syndrome is rare in most areas around the world. Painful level: Unknown. In the Philippines SDS is linked with the mythological creature called batibat or old hag-like creature sits on the victim’s face or chest stopping them from breathing. In modern times this is known as sleep paralysis.
#5. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) happens when the muscles that support the tender tissues in the throat, example, tongue and soft palate, temporarily relax. Causes are found in overweight adults linked with obesity.
When happens at night? Well when these muscles relax, the airway becomes narrow or closed, and breathing is momentarily cut off. Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder.