Effects of state and trait factors on nightmare frequency

Michael Schredl
European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience 2003, 253 (5): 241-7
In a new approach, this study compared the effects of trait and state factors on nightmare frequency in a non-clinical sample. Although neuroticism and boundary thinness were related to nightmare frequency, regression analyses indicated that the trait measures did not add to the variance explained by the state measures. This finding supports the so-called continuity hypothesis of dreaming, i. e., nightmares reflect negative waking-life experiences. Second, the moderate relationship between nightmare frequency and poor sleep quality was partly explained by the day-time measures of neuroticism and stress, but it can be assumed that nightmares are an independent factor contributing to complaints of insomnia. Longitudinal studies measuring nightmare frequency and stress on a daily basis will shed light on the temporal relationship between daytime measures and the occurrence of nightmares. It will be also very interesting to study the relationship between stress and nightmare frequency in a sample who have undergone cognitive-behavioral treatment for nightmares.

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