need my REM!

I have been having disturbing re-occuring dreams and want to know what is going on with my body during them. They always happen during the day while taking a nap, and always while sleeping on a couch. I am always sleeping by myself and am usually needing sleep when they occur. The setting of the dream is always in the same place where I am sleeping. Once I was asleep in a library and it occured there. A few times it has been in what I percieve to be my apartment, but it looks like a completely different place, yet I feel I am at my normal home.

Sometime in the dream I begin to feel like I am awake. Sometime later I realize I am still asleep, but desperatly need to wake, but can’t. Many times I cannot breathe, and know I need to wake in order to breathe. I feel if I can just scream out I will wake, but many times I get to this point and still don’t wake. My hands and legs get numb and heavy, and it gets harder and harder to breathe. Sometimes I feel like I have woken just to realize a minute later that I am still asleep and I go through the entire process again. Sometimes I try phoning someone to help, yelling, kicking to wake myself up. Once I finally do wake, my heart is beating rapidly, I am dizzy, a little confused and still very scared. The heartbeat and fear last for about 5-10 minutes. Sometimes I feel out-of-sorts and anxious for 30 minutes to an hour. What is happening? What does this mean?

— Julie, Age 19, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

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