Does Obstructive sleep apnea affect my emotions and my dreams?

Do you suffer dreams or nightmares, especially about drowning?

While it sounds likely and I’ve heard it reported, studies about obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and dreaming don’t seem to support either more or less dreaming with obstructive sleep apnea.

I dream and get nightmares – do I have OSA?

Drowning dream?

Although the number of studies investigating dreaming in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is relatively small, the literature is intriguing and shows that altered sleep physiology due to recurrent obstructive events, frequent sleep arousals, and repeated blood oxygen desaturations may influence dream recall and dream content in some patients.

In the 1800’s, researchers hypothesized that recurrent blood oxygen desaturation during sleep may prompt the appearance of nightmares.


In an older study still, it was reported that blocking the nose and mouth with a cloth induced nightmares.

Causing dreams?

Nevertheless, conflicting results have been reported recently regarding dreams in patients with OSA. Some studies have reported less dreams in OSA patients, and others have described that patients with OSA have increased dreams with emotional content, mainly violent and hostile.

At this time studies are inconsistent and report conflicting results – clearly further study is indicated in this interesting area. 


Good sleep is crucial to good health and longevity.

Dr. Stephen Bray 2019

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