I feel like a fraud

I wonder if anyone else has the same struggles I do?

I have OSA.  Try as I might, I simply cannot seem to remember any of my dreams.   It's the most frustrating thing -- not having dream recall.  As I wondered why, I began to research the answer to this dilemma.

I discovered a study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine which found that in a test group of 393 people, more than 70 percent who did not have sleep apnea were able to recall their dreams, but those with severe sleep aponea had a significantly lower incidence of dream recall (less than 40 percent). Because people with sleep aponea don’t enjoy a substantial amount of time in REM, they seem to dream less.

However, another study (1997) pointed out that intensive dream emotions lead to high recallability of dream experience. Their data gave evidence to the hypothesis of Ermann et al. (1993, 1994) which states that reduced DRF (dream recall frequency) in terms of unsuccessful dream work is accompanied by frequent nocturnal awakenings. DRF of people with obstructive sleep apnoea did not differ from DRF in healthy controls. In addition, sleep aponea parameters did not correlate substantially with DRF.

Yet another earlier study (1994) indicated the following:

Gross, M.; Lavie, P.  (1994).  Dreams in sleep aponea patients.  Dreaming, Vol 4(3), 195-204.
Investigated the influence of aponea on REM-elicited dream reports and the influence of clinically successful treatment of the aponea on dreaming. 33 34–75 yr olds suffering from sleep apnoea slept during 2 nights in the sleep laboratory. 16 OSA patients were treated with nasal continuous positive air pressure during the 1st night and 17 during the 2nd night. There was a total of 150 awakenings: 78 from REM sleep without apnoea, and 72 from REM sleep with aponea. After aponeas, dream recall tended to be higher and dream reports were longer than after healthy sleep. No systematic incorporation of the aponea stimulus into the dream reports could be demonstrated. Dreams after aponeas were found to be more negative than dreams after healthy sleep. This suggests that REM-elicited dreams are resistant to powerful internal stimulation. The stress caused by sleep aponea exerted only a very global emotional influence on manifest dreaming.
What can I do to remember my dreams when I wake up? Is it possible I don't have dreams? If I do dream, what can I do to remember dreams?  I've heard tell that the best way to remember our dreams is to drink several large glasses of water before bed. This apparently causes one to wake up repeatedly during the night, and the most likely times will be at the ends of periods of REM sleep, when we're most likely to be dreaming intensely. It is theorized that if you wake during REM or this ‘dream’ stage, you will recall what you were just dreaming. Since individuals with sleep apnea do not enjoy a significant amount of time in REM, they dream less. However, just because you don’t remember a dream doesn’t necessarily mean a dream didn’t occur.  Almost everyone who reports "no dreaming" will recall dreams when awakened from REM sleep.
Any other suggestions?  Comments?

Changes in dreaming induced by CPAP in severe obstructive sleep apnea OSA (2006).pdf

Sleep aponea and REM sleep (2005).pdf

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  • Greetings,

    Sounds like you are educating yourself about sleep and dreams and how the OSA can affect things. I am wondering if you have looked into alternative approaches much? I have known two others with this diagnoses and both found wonders in switching to a more paleo/gluten free or vegan/gluten free diet. Sleeping better, feeling better. The double edged sword here does indeed seem to be that stress in awareness of breathing patterns being restricted so that even when someone is having an okay sleep experience free of some of the symptoms they may have that projection of stress (reasonably so) that an episode might occur.

    As an insomniac (somewhat recovered) I can say that I have succeeded in recalling dreams, even when I do not think I could possibly have entered a REM state...(very, VERY short shifts) Here is what I have found helpful in cultivating memory of dreams, at times against the odds:

    • Thinking a thought without words. Words, in my humble opinion bind us to the bodily space of wakefulness. Try when you awaken to linger several moments and attempt to hear the flow you are in. Don't stress about bringing that word-thought-structure of "What did I dream?" into the space. Through the years this space has been increasingly void of words, and sometimes pleasantly containing almost an ambient music...let the song enter you, the song of what you dreamed rather than searching for it...
    • Pillows and a good bed Not much to say about this and sure this is a topic you and a MD,ND or sleep specialist have discussed. Make the sleeping chamber an honored chamber. Sheets that feel good and blankets that breathe, nothing cultivating sweat when this is often already a side effect of sleep disorders. I recently have acquired a chiropillow-a pillow filled with water, and it does seem to be having an even more positive effect on my sleep and dream recall.
    • No sugar before bed Without fail has always brought bad dreams. That said being of the opinion that dreams share several levels I consider these "bad" dreams really just creative manifestations of bad chemicals coming out of me...
    • Have a recorder ready to use After once having a dream that I awoke from ecstatic, feeling I had dreamed information necessary for a new technology and intuited the deepest meaning of divine creation and evolution as intertwined I later awoke to find my pencil and paper did not contain this important feeling dream, but a scrawl of the words "burning, light, beauty" with a pencil mark trailing off the page. Recorders let you stay in that dream space yet longer, a simple fine motor press of a button rather than all the action of writing. (I do not recommend recording on phone as it is distracting and the lights contrary.)
    • Keep the darkest possible room
    • Undo yourself from all the techniques-they will mire you in words and tasks, interrupting a space outside of those...
    • Books: Anything by Robert Moss, and I have also found Ann Faraday and some of Robert Monroe's writings helpful.

    I wish you luck and am curious how things will go for you in the future!


    • Dearest Jennifer:

      Thank you so much for your informative and prompt reply!  WOW -- you've made some kewl suggestions.  I'm prepared to give ANYTHING a go at this point...

      Thank you again for your gracious kindness....  I shall let you know if what you suggest helps!

      Namaste, Alan

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