Dreams are part of the sleep cycle and are thought to be important to your mental and emotional health; if you haven’t been able to remember them lately, it might be a side effect of a serious sleep disorder. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, only 43.2 percent of patients with obstructive sleep apnea are able to recall their dreams – and the reason most likely has to do with how the condition disrupts the quality of your rest. Read on to learn why you may need to have your sleep apnea treated before you can enjoy sweet dreams again.
What Effect Does Sleep Apnea Have on Your Dreams?
When you have sleep apnea, your nightly slumber is being constantly interrupted. Some type of obstruction in your airway (normally a relaxed muscle or tissue in the mouth or throat) will prevent you from breathing normally while you’re asleep, and your brain will constantly wake you up for oxygen. As a result, you’ll rarely if ever reach the REM stage of the sleep cycle where the most dreaming occurs. In other words, you may not remember your dreams simply because you’re not having as many. And the longer you go without enough REM sleep, the more your mental health will deteriorate.
Even worse, any dreams you do have are likely to be extremely unpleasant. In general, people suffering from sleep apnea tend to have more vivid nightmares that the general population. It’s thought to be a side effect of the suffocation that results from your airway becoming blocked.
How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
Disturbing dreams or a lack of dreams are just a couple of possible symptoms of sleep apnea (and could have other causes as well). Here are just a few other warning signs that could point to a severe sleep disorder:
- Loud snoring or gasping for air in your sleep
- Frequent, excessive drowsiness or grogginess during the day
- General forgetfulness and mood changes
- Waking up frequently or suffering from insomnia
What Should I Do About Sleep Apnea?
The best way to ensure that you enjoy sweet dreams – and the restorative sleep that accompanies them – is to have your sleep apnea treated as soon as you can. After a sleep test is performed to diagnose the condition, a sleep dentist can offer treatment through a custom-made oral appliance. Other possible solutions include CPAP therapy or losing weight.
No matter which type of treatment is right for you, it’s important to stick with it. Living with sleep apnea for too long can increase your risk of accidents or life-threatening heart attacks. But with the help of a professional, you’ll be able to sleep deeply and soundly once again.
About the Author
Dr. Keane Fedosky graduated from the Baylor College of Dentistry in 1991 and has been practicing for over 20 years. As a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, he’s helped many a patient overcome the symptoms of sleep apnea so that they could get a full night’s rest. If sleep apnea has been interrupting your dreams for too long, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Fedosky at Sleep Rehab in Plano by visiting his website or calling (972) 753-3737.