Researchers report: If you dream about it, it can be an alarm signal

Deepak Gupta
Deepak Gupta January 11, 2022
Updated 2022/01/11 at 2:59 PM

Few feels as good as deep, restful sleep. What we dream about can be even more important. At least in one case, it should help to identify a clinical picture that should not be underestimated. Anyone who has sleep apnea without knowing it, well Respiratory arrest in sleep, according to researchers, gets clues about it through a kind of dreaming.

Respiratory arrest in sleep: that’s behind it

Sleep apnea is a detailed syndrome that affects around two to three percent of the adult population. The risk increases with age, as experts explain.

A distinction is made between obstructive and central sleep apnea, the former being the best known. About twenty percent of 40 to 60 year olds and up to 60 percent of 65 to 70 year old men suffer from it. Due to a different anatomy in the neck area, women are often spared until menopause.

The fact that such a respiratory arrest can occur during sleep is due to a narrowing of the airways due to the relaxation of the muscles. This not only makes breathing very difficult, it even makes it stop.

Anyone who lives with affected people can recognize the disease by particularly loud snoring (up to 90 decibels, which corresponds to a jackhammer), shallow breathing and pauses in breathing followed by violent gasps.

Pay attention to these dreams

It becomes more difficult for those affected to perceive their own condition. How you dream can help or even be a warning signal.

According to experts from the SleepCycleCenter (SCC), studies have already shown, for example, that only about 43 percent of the examined people with sleep apnea were able to remember their dreams afterwards. In comparison, the rate for those without complaints was around 71 percent. The reason for this could be an interruption of the REM phase due to the respiratory failure during sleep.

However, there is one type of dreaming that should occur frequently in those affected: very vivid nightmares. These could be widespread among apnea patients due to lack of oxygen, according to the SCC. Typical motives in nightmares are the following:

  • Strangulation and suffocation
  • Try breathing underwater or in space
  • Clogged pipes
  • Stuck in the elevator

So if you don’t remember your dreams or have frequent nightmares, you should contact a doctor and have yourself examined, according to the recommendation of the SCC. Even the little things can make a difference, for example the best sleeping position for sleep apnea.

Sources: Pulmonologists online,, SleepCycleCenter (SCC)

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