5 Common Reasons Why People Die While Sleeping

5 Common Reasons Why People Die While Sleeping

Death is inevitable. In fact, it can come like a thief in the night. Dying while sleeping seems like a peaceful and pain-free way to die. But is it really the case? What does it mean to die in your sleep? And why do people die in their sleep in the first place? Although death can be an uncomfortable topic to talk about for some, in this article we will explore some common reasons why people never wake up from slumber.


Why will you want to read further? Well, it can clear your doubts once and for all and it might help you see some red flags that can potentially lead you to lifesaving treatments before it’s too late.

Cardiac Arrest

A death that is associated with the heart could be attributed to several medical conditions, including sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), myocardial infarction, arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), and congestive heart failure (CHF). One common effect from all of these heart conditions is the failure of the heart to pump enough blood to the rest of the body, which can be fatal.

Respiratory Arrest

The lungs and the heart complement each other. As such, when one system fails, the other will most likely follow. One type of breathing that is indicative of impending death is called the Cheyne – Stokes respiration or periodic respiration. It is characterized by deep and fast breathing, followed with a gradual decrease before going for a temporary stop in breathing or apnea. The pattern repeats with each cycle lasting up to 2 minutes.

Respiratory failure can happen due to a chronic, degenerative disease, such as:

  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Status asthmaticus
  • Pulmonary embolism

It is also possible for the lungs to fail because of some changes in the muscles or the nervous system, just like in the case of myasthenia gravis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Moreover, there are cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in babies less than one-year-old. The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed to be associated with defects in the portion of the infant’s brain that is responsible for breathing and arousal from sleep.

Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome

SUNDS or sudden unexplained nocturnal death syndrome was first recognized in 1915 in the Philippines. It was originally called bangungut (“to arise and moan;” the word for “nightmare”) in the Tagalog language. In Hawaii, they call it Dream Disease.

The exact cause of SUNDS is unclear, but it is associated w