Everyone’s respiratory rate during sleep is different. Your age can determine a normal respiratory rate. According to the Sleep Foundation, adults can range between 12 and 20 breaths per minute, and older adults might breathe up to 28 breaths per minute. That’s about a one-second inhale and one-second exhale. Breathing faster than this normal rate is called tachypnea.
Some wearable devices such as the Apple Watch can track your sleeping respiratory rate. You might notice that your respiratory rate will vary throughout the night. During REM sleep, your respiratory rate will be much faster, but deeper sleep stages will slow your respiratory rate. If you have a wearable health tracker, it’s a good idea to get a baseline of your sleeping respiratory rate. You can then notice trends in your respiratory rate when you get sick (via Somnofy).
Breathing faster (or slower) than normal could be a sign of a health condition. Tachypnea could indicate anxiety attacks, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung infections, blood clots, or heart failure. However, it’s not necessarily an indicator of a sleeping disorder. You should see a doctor if your high respiratory rate accompanies difficulty breathing, fever, pulling in your chest, or bluish or grayish skin (via Sleep Foundation).