I wake up unable to breathe

Once or twice I month I wake up in the middle of night gasping for air. It’s very scary as I feel like I can’t breathe. It takes about five minutes for me to get my breath back. It’s almost as if I am holding my breath in my sleep.

You may well be. Sleep apnoea is a condition where people close off their airway sometimes several hundred times a night. Typically sufferers snore and then appear to stop breathing for up to 40 seconds before starting to breathe again, often with a jolt. Being overweight, smoking and drinking too much alcohol all make the problem worse so you may find a few changes to your lifestyle will help but it is also worth seeing your GP who may be able to refer you to a sleep lab where they will monitor you while you sleep to confirm the diagnosis.