Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-05-2010, 11:24 AM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Beyond the Pale
Posts: 4,148
Rate of breathing during sleep

My husband breathes 3 times faster than I do when we are sleeping. (Almost sleeping-- I am awake enough to count his breathing!) I have a friend who noticed the same thing with her husband.

This seems like a big difference in breathing rate. Neither of the guys has significant health problems.

Is this difference normal? Is breathing too fast or too slow while sleeping indicative of anything?
Old 11-05-2010, 11:48 AM
ethelbert ethelbert is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,168
You might want to look at this;
Cheyne Stokes Respiration

I don't know much about it. I knew someone who was diagnosed with it. If you suspect this is the case, they should go to a sleep clinic to be evaluated.
Old 11-05-2010, 12:31 PM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between pole and tropic
Posts: 7,544
But Cheynes-Stokes breathing is characterized by alternating or cycling periods of rapid then slow (or absent) breathing. What ratatoskK describes sounds less like Cheynes-Stokes than Kussmaul breathing but that obviously doesn't come and go with sleep.

Sleep apnea is associated with decreased breathing at night, but as sleep lightens after a period of slow respirations in that state, there may be compensatory increased breathing rate. That is, indeed, is similar to Cheynes-Stokes but not identical.

Are both husbands smokers? If so, COPD might explain things. How about obesity? Especially when lying flat, people who are obese need to work harder at breathing (moving all that fat up and down requires work). So, a rapid respiratory rate might be anticipated at night in such people.

Some people with heart failure experience their symptoms mostly at night. Rapid breathing would fit that diagnosis, but there would almost certainly be other symptoms.

To be complete, certain drugs can increase the rate of breathing. It's not commonly used anymore, but theophylline use can raise the breathing rate. As does Provera (medroxyprogesterone) and acetazolamide but I doubt they're on either of those. Aspirin in overdose does it also but, again, that's not relevant here.

Bottom line, of course, is that your husband should see his doc if there's any concern.

Last edited by KarlGauss; 11-05-2010 at 12:33 PM.
Old 11-05-2010, 01:13 PM
ratatoskK ratatoskK is offline
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Beyond the Pale
Posts: 4,148
They're not smokers. One of them is about 30 pounds overweight and the other is in great shape. It's not deep and labored breathing, it's just faster than seems usual to me.

As far as my husband is concerned (I don't have direct experience of the other guy), yes, sometimes the breathing slows down a lot and then he takes a deep breath -- I guess that could be apnea or something like it -- but the rapid breathing seems like a separate issue to me (the non-doctor). It doesn't seem like a problem (as far as his experience of it is concerned) but I was just curious about it.
Old 11-05-2010, 02:43 PM
Al Bundy Al Bundy is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,803
The envelope must be large

I'm at the other end of the scale. I only breath 3-4 times a minute while waking and I believe it must be lower while sleeping. I bet I go a minute between breaths at times. The ultra slow heartbeat goes along with it. I probably could use a pacemaker to speed both up. I'm like a car engine with a slow idle. Faster may be better as you don't want to stall out.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:45 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017