Many people question the connection between snoring and dreaming. Just a quick search of the internet shows that many people are curious about whether or not snoring and dreaming can occur at the same time, if one causes the other, or if they are completely unrelated. Because it is very difficult to determine exactly what is happening while a person is sleeping, scientists and skeptics create theories that relate the two, but it’s important to look at the facts behind the theories.
Do We Dream While Snoring?
Dreaming happens in the brain while a person is sleeping. Although some dreaming can occur any time during the night, most of the time dreams are associated with the REM (rapid eye movement) phase of the sleep cycle. The activity that creates dreams is a combination of various parts of the brain working together to create stories and images. Most people dream on most nights, although the majority of people don’t really remember most of their dreams.
Many sleep studies have shown that dreams are actually an important part of our health and well-being. Dreaming means that we are experiencing all of the sleep cycles as needed and our bodies and brains will wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested. Still, a lot of mystery still surrounds the phenomenon of dreaming that interconnects our brains and our bodies while we sleep.
While some researchers have theorized that we don’t dream while snoring, most have agreed that dreaming can happen during any time of sleep. If you are sleeping deeply, in the REM stages of sleep, then you are more likely to dream. Certain types of snoring may also be more likely to occur during REM sleep, while other types of snoring are more likely to happen during other stages of sleep.
For instance, snoring related to sleep apnea (which results in breathing pauses and abrupt awakenings) is more likely to occur during deep stages of sleep (stages 3 and 4). These deep sleep stages are also when dreaming occurs, which could mean that people dream and snore at the same time. In fact, people with sleep apnea may be more likely to remember their dreams because part of the condition means that they are startled awake in the middle of dreaming.
Does Snoring Mean Dreaming?
The cause of snoring seems to be completely unrelated to dreaming. Snoring is an activity that happens during sleep which is related to the way the body is breathing. Snoring happens because of resistance that occurs in the breathing passages due to blockage or limited air flow through the airways which may be due to low muscle tone in the throat or tongue, excess fat in the neck that presses on the airways, or congestion in the nose that forces breathing through the mouth.
Some people wonder why snoring happens only when they sleep and not when they are awake. When a person sleeps, their breathing becomes automatically controlled by the brain without any thought. This means that the brain puts the breathing on a sort of “auto-pilot”. Also, your muscles are all much more relaxed when you are sleeping than they are when you are awake. Relaxed muscles during sleep can cause a roughness in the breathing which leads to vibration in the passages that creates the sound that we call snoring. If your breathing was restricted while you are awake, you would simply breathe differently and more carefully, to avoid making this noise!
So the fact that someone is snoring usually does mean that they are sleeping, but it does not necessarily mean that they are dreaming.
What to Do About Snoring and Dreaming
If you are concerned about your snoring habits or the snoring of a family member or roommate, it’s best to see a medical professional. Snoring can be related to a number of sleep disordered breathing problems that may lead to serious health issues. Sleep apnea is one condition that is connected with snoring and can cause heart problems, diabetes, stroke, and may even be life threatening. Other sleep problems can also cause interruptions of sleep and make a deep impact on your quality of life.
If you are dreaming a lot when you sleep, remembering your dreams, and waking up disturbed, this may be a sign that you are not getting enough quality sleep. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of a sleep study to find out if your dreaming may be related to other sleep disorders that can be treated.
Some snoring is benign and unrelated to other health problems but needs to be treated to help with partners or roommates who need sleep. In this case, options such as adhesive nasal strips, mouth guards, cool mist humidifiers, or other natural aids may be helpful in reducing air restrictions and restoring healthy sleep patterns without the annoyances and interruptions of snoring.
Sleeping pills and drinking alcohol should be avoided by people who snore or are bothered by their dreams. Both of the active ingredients in these substances cause the body to relax but have a tendency to interrupt the healthy deep sleep stages while promoting lighter sleep. Reducing or eliminating the amount of alcohol intake or sleeping pills is a healthy step in treating or eliminating snoring as well as minimizing the likelihood of having disturbing dreams.
Because not a great deal of research is available related to snoring and dreaming, it’s very difficult to say exactly what is happening in the brain during sleep. However, the two activities do not seem to be mutually exclusive, meaning that they can both happen at the same time. This may be particularly true during REM sleep, especially for people with sleep apnea, as mentioned above.
There may also be an interconnection between the two activities of the brain and the body that scientists and medical professional simply have not yet discovered. As medical research advances, the field of sleep research will continue to learn more and possibly solve the mystery related to the connection between snoring and dreaming!