Effects of early nightmares on the development of sleep disturbances in motor vehicle accident victims


  • This research was supported by NIMH grant R01 MH62042. Manuscript preparation was supported, in part, by NIMH grants R34 MH71201, and R34 MH 73014.


The present study prospectively examined the extent to which trauma-related nightmares affected the subsequent development of insomnia symptoms in 314 motor vehicle accident (MVA) victims. Participants were assessed in-hospital and at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 1 year post-MVA. Hierarchical linear regression analyses showed that 6-week PTSD symptoms (PTSS) and 3-month nightmares, but not 2-week nightmares were positively associated with sleep onset and maintenance problems reported at 3-month post-MVA. Nightmares reported at 3-months post-MVA were positively associated with 1-year sleep maintenance problems. These findings highlight the dynamic relationship between PTSS and sleep problems as well as the potential importance of early intervention for trauma-related nightmares as a means to prevent sleep problems after a traumatic experience.