Dying In Your Sleep

31 Jul

Dying in your sleep is greatly overrated.

However, if you came here from google, don’t feel alone: my research tells me that almost 4,000 people a year google the topic.

My hunch is that’s 2,000 people genuinely anxious about the subject for some reason or another, mostly unfounded, and the rest is split between people with sleep apnea, kids writing English papers, and people with macabre interests.

Or maybe not. Either way, let’s see what we can figure out about this idea of dying in your sleep.

“I would’ve died and never even knew it.”
– Guy who spent a couple of days asleep after a head accident, recovering. He almost died. Isn’t it weird to think you would die and not even know it was coming if you randomly died in your sleep? And therein lies the fear we have about dying while asleep.

Fun With Statistics

In order to give us some contrast to how people die and how many people die in various ways, let’s look at some stats. These are based on 2009 USA number, the last year of which the data is available.

  • Almost 2.5 million people die each year in the United States
  • About half a million of those deaths are from heart disease
  • Another half a million are from malignant neoplasms, or, to put it in words that people actually use – cancer.
  • People being killed by other people only accounts for 16,000 deaths.
  • Amazingly, people being killed by themselves on purpose – i.e. suicide – account for 36,000 deaths, more than double the murder rate. (How could that be true?)
  • Over 100,000 people die a year from accidents.

Unfortunately for our purposes here, even though the report is 51 pages and all about how people die, the word “sleep” isn’t even mentioned once.

Not To Be Overly Sensationalistic, But Here’s a List of Some Things That Can Kill You in Your Sleep:

People do die in their sleep, but it’s not without cause, such as:

  • Blood Clots
  • Heart Attacks
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Stroke
  • Drug Overdose

I would suspect the vast majority of people who die while sleeping were sick, elderly, and in a fragile state of life already. For the non-elderly though, I imagine that heart attacks lead the list as to what kills them. Of course, sleep apnea is a big concern but it’s rare, for one thing, and most people with it take action to keep themselves safe using a cpap machine while sleeping.

What about Sleep Apnea?

Here’s the thing:

If you don’t have sleep apnea and you are a normal, healthy adult, I don’t think there’s any reason at all to obsess over dying in your sleep.

If you really worry about it, please see a doctor and have your concerns checked out. If you know it’s really just anxiety then perhaps it’s worth exploring this anxiety with a therapist.

Should I Worry?

No! You should not worry. Chances are if you googled this topic you are young and if you are young – as in under age 60 – I don’t think there’s any reason to imagine you are just going to suddenly go to sleep and not wake up. If you are worried about your health, you should see a doctor and get it settled, but in my experience, this is anxiety talking, and nothing more.

I also think that it’s true what they say: dying in your sleep is very peaceful.

What’s Your Worry?

Why do you worry about might die in your sleep?

Tell us below.

Death Stats

2 Responses to “Dying In Your Sleep”

  1. rika March 30, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    Hi.. I am here because it is more than anxiety.. Last year I have a grandma who died while sleeping.. It was tragic for us.. and now this year.. exactly March 30.. just a while ago… our beloved batch mate just died while asleep.. He was in our school for 2 years and then he transferred school.. but he was really in touch with our batch even after he transferred.. Im not sure of his age but probably he is around 16 or 17.. All of us can’t believe of what just happened.. He is a guy who does not uses drugs.. he is actually a youth for Christ member… the only bad thing that I can think he’s been doing is his love of playing warcraft.. He always go to our school twice or thrice a year.. Now I m just wondering.. from what I read in your blog.. the best reason could be Sleep Apnea.. but just like what you said.. it is rare… and what could actually be the reason for a healthy guy to die because of sleep apnea? I know you could not exactly answer these.. but I just want to hear your thoughts.. Thank you very much.. sorry to bother you.. excuse my english because I’m actually an Asian,,

  2. Bob August 31, 2016 at 6:48 am #

    You must be very young, author Ben. Dying in your sleep is generally considered to be a good thing, typically, not something to fear. Painless, and oblivious, at home.

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