What are dreams?
Human interest has always been piqued by dreams, this topic has been explored philosophically, romantically, and artistically for thousands of years.
Dreams were important in Greek mythology because they were thought to provide a channel of communication between the spiritual and physical worlds, allowing the gods to communicate with humans. Science and modern day medicine now concentrate on the oneiric universe.
Every night, at every age, we dream, good and/or bad dreams. The majority of dreams occur during the so-called REM (rapid eye movement) period of deep sleep. Yet, they can also take place, albeit less frequently, during other stages of sleep.The body's muscles are paralyzed during REM sleep, which is vital for our protection since it stops us from moving around or engaging in other motor behaviors while we sleep or dream.
Sleeping creatures, such as your furry friends, can also dream. Many studies have demonstrated that animals, including cats, dogs, primates, mice, and even dolphins, dream each night. According to electrophysiological data, animal and human sleep phases are strikingly similar.
The majority of our dreams are visual, but (see how unusual!) they can also be acoustic, olfactory, or even include multiple sensations at once.
Because sleep is cyclical, we dream multiple times every single night. When we reach the REM phase, we always have at least one dream. So, on average, we dream five to six times a night.
The importance of dreams
Dreams are thought to be crucial for memory consolidation and the execution of numerous mental tasks since they are a component of a physiological complex. In all animal species, REM sleep and dreaming seem to be more prevalent in young animals. Thus the theory that they are essential for the central nervous system's development.
Maybe you've been surprised by how many dreams you have each night. But don't worry, it's common to forget some of them. We occasionally only remember our dreams because of a natural forgetfulness. But when we wake up in the middle of a dream or within the first 10 or 15 minutes after it ends, we can remember that dream. Most often, dreams are related to everyday events. In this way, if you sleep well and have quality sleep, the most usual thing is that you don't remember all your dreams.
How sleep apnea impacts your dreams and your relationship
Waking up a lot during dreams can be an indication that the quality of sleep is not going well. In addition to being a symptom of stress and anxiety, this could be in relation to insomnia, snoring and/or undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Individuals with undiagnosed sleep apnea will have a harder time reaching the REM phase of their sleep or have micro-arousals (little alerting events) caused by airway obstruction and fall back into another sleep stage.
A majority of the dreams take place during the REM sleep phase. Although sleep apnea can occur during any stage of sleep, it is often worse during REM sleep because of reduced muscle tone in the upper airway that naturally occurs during REM sleep. Some individuals, in fact, have apneas and hypopneas that only occur during REM sleep. By treating sleep apnea with the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP therapy), you really can dream better!
Individuals with untreated obstructive sleep apnea frequently experience daytime weariness, confusion, and lack of focus. Because of this, you might not be totally present when spending time with your loved ones, which can impact your relationship and connections. Your snoring or wakefulness may also be waking your partner!
If you have undiagnosed sleep apnea you will most likely experience sleep loss. According to research, sleep deprivation may result in couples being less appreciative of one another. Also, it may encourage negative attitudes that separate couples. Even though divorce rates may be rising, ‘sleep divorces’ are more frequent! Snoring, often a sign of undiagnosed sleep apnea, is not only harmful for the ‘snorer’ but can also be detrimental to their partner by causing sleep disturbance, which can result in frustrations towards each, sleeping in separate bedrooms and lead to an unhealthy relationship. During the day, somnolence, chronic fatigue, mood disorder, anxiety, lack of energy, reduced social life can create tension in the couple and in your everyday life… this makes your dreams more difficult.
A bad night's sleep results in poor quality of life over the long term, in addition can put you at risk for many other health risks and concerns.
If you or your loved one has any of the following symptoms, you should speak with your healthcare professional about sleep apnea:
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Mood changes, such as depression or irritability
Difficulty concentrating during the day
Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking
Recurring dry mouth or sore throat
Repeated visits to the bathroom at night
Most people with sleep apnea do not realize they have sleep apnea until someone has commented on their snoring or breathing pauses. Therefore, it is extremely important to follow up with a trained professional, in order to be able to identify sleep apnea as early as possible. Thus, care can be taken before the symptoms are more severe.
How we can help you start dreaming again
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a chronic disease that causes breathing interruptions, and sometimes choking during sleep.
The diagnosis of OSA is performed through sleep examination, polysomnography, which results in a sleep study.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is considered the gold standard therapy that delivers pressurized air into the upper airway to relieve obstruction during sleep.
If diagnosed with OSA, you may be prescribed a CPAP device. CPAP therapy consists of a flow generator that pumps air into a mask you wear while sleeping. The air pressure in your throat supports your airway and keeps the path to your lungs open.
Dream of a night without sleep apnea / Without sleep apnea, your dreams are free to roam!
Patients usually report that CPAP therapy improves their lifestyle dramatically.
Being able to breathe properly, in addition to stopping loud snoring will help improve not only your sleep. You may wake up feeling refreshed in the morning, having more energy for things you love, and allow you to start dreaming again in several ways.
Treating sleep apnea may also improve your partner's sleep too. Contact us for more information on sleep apnea therapy and speak with our team of registered sleep professionals to support you in getting the quality sleep you need and deserve.
Check our guide on how to speak with your partner about sleep apnea therapy and the risks of untreated sleep apnea.