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Waking up in the night with breathing problems
I don't have the typical form of insomnia where I lay in bed for hours on end with only my thoughts. I typically have no problem falling asleep and can fall asleep if I wake up in the night. My problem is that I get so congested during the night that I wake up in a panic because I can't breathe. I thought that it was dry air at first because it started in the winter but even at 42% humidity I still have the problem. It is driving me crazy. The only thing that works for me is if I get up and rinse my nasal passages. This works but I am awake for at least an hour after I do it. When I have to do this twice in the night I feel bagged the next day. Does anybody have suggestions how to manage this?
Too much or too little humidity can both make it difficult to breathe so if you have not done so, it would be worth trying a number of settings with a humidifier in your bedroom. You might find that you are sensitive both ways. If you are living somewhere where winter heating is required, you may find humidity extremes in the same home that can make sleeping difficult. If a humidifier does not work, there are nasal lubricating gels that can help as well. They are especially helpful if you feel like your nasal passages are all dried out. Lastly, make sure you keep yourself hydrated as that can also help
I just wanted to say that there is no such thing as typical insomnia. What you are mentioned about being alone with one's thoughts is only one of many types of insomnia. I just point this out for other people who read this thread so they understand this.
I have had a humidifier and a moisture sensor in my bedroom and after playing with the humidifier for 2 weeks I am fairly certain humidity is not the problem. I just wake up breathing through my mouth with my lips cracked, my tongue all dried out and gasping for air it is really annoying. I am wondering if it could be allergies. I have never had allergies to anything but maybe I am allergic to dust in the air or something. I took a Benadryl last night and slept through the night but I am not sure if it was helping with allergies or just knocking me out. I still felt like my nasal passages were all dried out when I woke up.
If you think it is allergies, you can ask your doctor for a prescription nasal steroid to see if that helps you feel less congested. You cannot take these long term but it might help to calm the immune system for a while. I think you can take it for a few weeks at a time.

Something else to try is getting a pillow that inhibits dust mites. We often forget that allergies can come from dust mites and with all the shed skin in the bed and in the pillow, you can have a huge population of dust mites that can cause an allergic reaction.
I told my wife about the dust mites and she was completely put off :) I am going to see about a new pillow and cleaning the sheets more often. I can try the steroids but if they can't be taken all the time, it seems like a waste of effort.
My mother was in the hospital a while back and she experienced what you have described. We thought it was because of the dry air but later on she was diagnosed with sleep apnea. We were shocked because we thought that only happened to people who had weight concerns and since mom is thin we never thought that might be the cause of her insomia. Do go to your doctor and try to have sleep apnea looked into as a probable cause of your condition.

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