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Trouble sleeping at elevation - HELP


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Hello -

Day hike 5-6 times a week in hilly terrain - top elevation about 1500-2000 ft.  55 yo, 6'1 230 but in good hiking shape.  Do 15-30 miles on weekends and 3-5mi per hikes during weekdays.

so anyway...

Over the last several years, I have trouble sleeping at higher altitudes.  Like 6000-8000 ft.  Fall asleep no problem, but wake up many, many times a night needing to catch breath.  Not gasping or anything, just not getting enough oxygen.

In the past, after 2-3 evenings, it would gradually get better.  The past couple years, it's the same on day 1 as on day 4.  Very frustrating as I'm exhausted the entire trip and hiking really suffers.

Is there anything I can do short term?  Have Lake Tahoe trip coming 6/30-7/7 and want to really take advantage of all the trails.

Long term I'm in process of getting sleep study done, although at home I have no issues sleeping.

ANY guidance would be appreciated.

Thank you!

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I have no personal experience with this problem but it may be your body first speeding up breathing to get more O2, and secondly , your body slowing down its breathing rate because  now you’re losing too much CO2.

A drug, Diomax, may help, but may be prescription only (as it appears to be here in Canada).

A drug-free solution could be the Altimate high-altitude mask which helps a person do some CO2 rebreathing. This is supposed to keep your respiratory rate sufficient. 

Good luck and let us know what works for you.

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  • 2 months later...

You need a couple of days to adjust to the altitude before you get active. 

I went to the Andes and the second day I was in Cusco at 12,800 feet. The mountains go up from there. 

For the first three days it was rest and coca mate, tea made from coca leaves. 

After about 2 weeks I did not feel the elevation much at all. 

I met 2 Swiss climbers around 30 yo. They had just climbed Illimani, that is over 19,000 feet.  They said they would never go that high again without oxygen. 

Edited by ppine
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