Dreams are associated with the REM stage of the human sleep, characterized by rapid eye movements, intense unconscious brain activity, and muscle atonia. The only muscular activity in REM is represented by the oculomotor, cardiac and diaphragmatic movements. Since the ventilation is assured by the diaphragm alone in REM stage, patients with ventilatory impairments (such as emphysema, kyphoscoliosis, obesity etc) are at risk for desaturations especially during this stage. The oxygen desaturations produce micro-arousals responsible for sleep fragmentation and for a selective REM sleep deprivation. Patients with sleep disturbed breathing are REM deprived and present a rebound of the REM stage at the initiation of the therapy for their sleep disturbed breathing.
The literature addressing dream content in patients with OSAHS shows controversial data. Much of the literature shows that OSAHS patients report mostly dreams with negative emotional content. In some studies, patients with OSAHS report their dreams to be predominantly negatively toned prior to continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) therapy and more negatively toned on non-CPAP nights compared to CPAP treatment nights.
Last date updated on June, 2014