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Do People with Sleep Apnea Dream?

Posted On October 25, 2013
Sleep Apnea Dream
October 25, 2013

When you were knee-high to a grasshopper, your nightly dreams revolved around playing catch with your dad, or perhaps dressing up all of your Barbie dolls in the latest trendy outfits. Granted today you are older, your subconscious is no longer interested in these types of activities, and hence your dreams invariably matured. However, dreams at night are now a distant memory, and you wonder why.

If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), there is a plausible explanation. OSA is characterized by instances whereby breathing literally stops for seconds anywhere from 5 to over 30 times per hour during the course of a night’s sleep. Of course, with that being said, it is obvious that sound and restful sleep is not possible. If you are not sleeping properly then you are not moving through the natural progression of the stages of sleep. And so the question needs to be posed: Do people with sleep apnea dream?

With normal sleep, it isn’t until you arrive at the second to last of five sleep stages that dreams will typically occur. Although in earlier stages, there might be dream imagery that floats in and out, typically it is the stage known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) that true—and cognizant for some—dreams appear. This stage occurs about an hour and 30 minutes after falling asleep and is characterized by increased brain activity (eyes move quickly back and forth) with body relaxation occurring at the same time. However with sleep apnea and the frequent starts and stops of sleeping and breathing, people might never arrive at or else are late to REM.

In a Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine study, researchers discovered that in a test group of 393 subjects that 71.4 percent who did not have sleep apnea were able to recall their dreams, but those with severe OSA had a significantly lower incidence of dream recall. The study results also demonstrated that sleep apnea sufferers did not remember their nightmares.

It is theorized that if you wake during REM or this ‘dream’ stage, you will recall what you were just dreaming. Since individuals with sleep apnea do not enjoy a significant amount of time in REM, they dream less. However, just because you don’t remember a dream doesn’t necessarily mean a dream didn’t occur.

If you suspect you might have sleep apnea or been diagnosed and would like to find out what individualized treatment option might be available for you, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Communications for Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America, manages all content and communications for the company.
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