Welcome to Healing Well! It is amazing how many people suffer from reflux. There are many reasons for the problem, but when you wake up and can't breathe, none o that matters. It's a very scary feeling. That problem is caused by acid assaulting the vocal chords. They spasm, and that keeps the air from getting through.
You don't have to worry, though. There's a way to deal with those attacks. Hopefully you won't have another one, but my asthma/allergy doctor gave me the following directions (reflux can also cause asthma, but that's not what you're describing)
Below is a copy of what he gave me. I hope you find it helpful.
Again, I'm glad you've joined us!
Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion
(Vocal Cord Dysfunction)
Relaxed Throat Breathing Exercises
1. Sip water before and after doing these exercises.
A. Shoulders Down
This is the cue for you to relax
B. Hand on abdomen
This helps you focus on easy abdominal breath support--the best and most relaxed way to breathe.
C. Gentle, quick "sip" of air IN (sip, sip, sip)
Breathe through your mouth
about 1 second inhale each sip
D. Gentle blow OUT (blow, blow, blow)
Through slightly tight lips
about 2-3 seconds for each blow out
3. Practice 5 reps, 20 times per day when you are NOT having symptoms.
4. Make it automatic, and use it at the first sense of throat tightness to prevent or suppress the VDC. You may start with the inhale or the exhale.
5. Use it to "pre-treat" yourself before known triggers for VCD.
6. This technique can also be a "stress buster" tool to use in other situations.