General Question

auhsojsa's avatar

What usually happens when one dies in their sleep?

Asked by auhsojsa (2516points) February 22nd, 2012

Is it usually a heart attack? Brain just stops working due to lack of oxygen? Does being healthy play a role or is it just pure bad luck?

Who are notable famous people who have died while in their sleep? Typically do autopsy always find the true killer?

RIP Christopher Reimer

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12 Answers

XOIIO's avatar

I think it’s usually due to old age. They just stop.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Cardiac arrest. Lucky those who die that way!

jazmina88's avatar

sleep apnea….they snore themselves to death.

fundevogel's avatar

I suspect a good number of old people that die in their sleep were actually discreet suicides. I think families in these cases have a tendency to let these things go uninvestigated, out of respect for the dead and their privacy.

downtide's avatar

One part of my job involves closing or transferring the accounts of customers who have passed away. Usually their next-of-kin send in death certificates and I can say that the top cause of death amongst the elderly appears to be listed as pneumonia, with whatever underlying condition (cancer, heart disease etc) as the secondary cause. So I suspect that their body simply gives up trying to breathe.

janbb's avatar

My Mom recently passed away. She had refused food or drink for a week and then was found dead in her room between one bed check and the next. I assume her organs were shutting down and she stopped breathing. I didn’t see her body but my brother did and he said she looked at peace.

gailcalled's avatar

My mother had a massive cerebral hemorrhage and lapsed into a deep coma almost immediately. During the next three days we watched as her organs shut down, her skin became mottled, her urine got a deeper and deeper yellow and diminished to a trickle, and her breathing became more and more shallow and, at the very end, labored.

My sister and I took turns, and we essentially sat there and watched her breathe. Hospice and her doctor kept her very comfortable and also obeyed her DNA mandate, which she had put in place several years ago.

The pacemaker with a relatively new battery probably kept things going on longer than was necessary, but she had oxygen, morphine and ambien and so was relatively comfortable. Once she had the stroke, there was no one at home but the shell, which did soldier on for 72 hours.

Then it all just stopped.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Lots of things can happen that would make you die in your sleep. You could quit breathing and die of asphyxiation (sp?) Your heart could stop. You could have a brain anurism (sp?) You could drown if your lungs fill up with fluid (also from many causes), your aorta could burst, you could die of a drug overdose or of starvation. Only an autopsy could say what really happened.

tranquilsea's avatar

My husband’s father died from a massive heart attack in his sleep.

ETpro's avatar

My grandmother died at 86. She had told me a few months prior to passing away that she was ready to die. She said all her friends were already gone, and she was ready. She appeared to have just shut down, and she had a smile on her face when my mom found her the next morning. My first wife died during the night from a heart attack. I’m nearing 70 now, so I’ve lost many more, but during the day and from a wide range of causes.

mattbrowne's avatar

I think there is no ‘usually’. There are dozens of different reasons. Organ failure is one, especially kidney failure. Inability to breathe is another. Heart attacks are common too.

LadyMarissa's avatar

My husband died in his sleep. Autopsy showed his liver had gone out on him. I think his heart just stopped beating. I was sleeping next to him & didn’t hear him make a sound of any kind.

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