When we go to sleep each night our bodies are supposed to go through 5 stages of sleep. The most important stage is the Rapid Eye Movement stage or REM. At this stage there are a lot of things going on that are beneficial to the body and mind. It helps learning development and it also helps with your memory. Dreaming is also done at this stage of sleeping and of course sleep apnea disrupts this stage. Nightmares also occur during this stage.
Everyone has had a nightmare at one time or the other while they were sleeping. While nightmares in general aren’t harmful they can certainly give you quite a scare. They aren’t to be confused with night terrors, where the dream that you are having is terrifying and you seem to have an inability of waking up.
According to Wikipedia, nightmares“are not common in children under 5, but they are more common in young children (25% experiencing a nightmare at least once per week), most common in adolescents, and less common in adults (dropping in frequency about one third from age 25 to 55).”
Sleep apnea along with other sleep disorders (parasomnias) can cause nightmares. However there are some studies that suggest that folks with OSA actually have fewer nightmares because of the lack of REM time. Personally I don’t agree with that because I still have nightmares and sleep apnea.
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