Ask a sleep apnea patient about the last dream they had, and they’ll probably struggle to give you an answer. A person with sleep apnea stops breathing hundreds of times per night. This makes it almost impossible to reach the critical REM sleep stage— the phase of sleep where we dream. Thanks to new CPAP masks, however, individuals with sleep apnea have a better shot at dreaming again.
The Stages of Sleep
Understanding the stages of sleep helps us appreciate how vital dreams are and why it’s so important to address this issue when it comes to sleep apnea. We have four major stages of sleep:
- Stage W: Wakefulness
- Stage 1: Non-REM 2 – transition period from wakefulness to sleep
- Stage 2: Non-REM 2 – makes up around 50% of total dream time, in which heart rate and breathing slow down
- Stage 3: Non-REM 3 – also known as slow wave sleep or Delta Sleep; the stage wherein the body regenerates and heals itself
- Stage R: REM – “REM” stands for Rapid Eye Movement; our brain is most active in this stage, and our breathing and heart rate is elevated; this is the stage in which we dream
A normal sleeper will complete and repeat this whole cycle every 90 minutes or so, given an eight-hour sleep period. It is especially important to reach the REM stage because a lot of important brain processes happen during this phase. Because sleep apnea patients rarely reach this stage, most fail to dream.
How Important Are Dreams, Exactly?
Science has established the importance of dreaming to healthy brain activity. More specifically, having enough REM activity is vital.
For starters, getting adequate REM activity means that you wake up refreshed in the morning. In addition, it’s necessary for removing neurotoxins in the brain. REM sleep also helps us encode memory, develop motor skills, and stimulate creative problem-solving. Furthermore, it’s key to learning and remembering new information, as well as maintaining neural pathways.
Sleep Apnea Patients Dream Less Or Not At All
Sleep apnea severely compromises a person’s ability to reach REM sleep. The obstructed airway wakes a patient up many times during the night (sometimes up to 80 times an hour), and they simply drift back into light stages of sleep.
While traditional CPAP masks do address the breathing interruptions, many patients still find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep because of all the straps and headgear.
Get Back Your Dreams
Daytime fatigue, poor memory, mood issues, and impaired quality of life are nothing new to sleep apnea sufferers. Fortunately, new CPAP devices have been developed to address the issue of comfort and movement that full-mask devices continue to have. With just a CPAP mouthpiece, no straps, and no headgear, sleep apnea patients can now have both freedom of movement and continuous breathing all through the night.
Wearing a CPAP without mask, such as the CPAP Pro and CPAP Pro II means you’re able to get sufficient REM activity and dream again every single night. Contact us today to talk to a CPAP Pro specialist!