The influence of the dielectric barrier on the discharge regime of a uniform atmospheric pressure glow discharge is studied through fast, time-resolved imaging of the discharge optical emission and by a one-dimensional fluid model. The experiments show that the discharge regime can be adjusted over a wide range from a glow-like regime with a pronounced Faraday dark space and positive column to a Townsend-like discharge regime in which those features are absent. The determining factor for the discharge regime is the current limitation through the dielectric. Results of the one-dimensional fluid model confirm this observation. The fluid model also indicates that metastable helium atoms generated during a discharge pulse contribute significantly to the pre-ionization of the gas before the next breakdown through Penning ionization of nitrogen impurities.