Nightmare frequency is associated with subjective sleep quality but not with psychopathology


Dr Jaap Lancee, Utrecht University, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, PO Box 80.140, 3508TC Utrecht, the Netherlands. Email:


This study aimed to evaluate all known and hypothesized predictors for nightmare frequency measures in a population with frequent nightmares. A total of 666 Internet-recruited participants completed questionnaires on nightmares, sleep, and psychopathology, 146 of whom further completed a subsequent 7-day diary. In contrast to previous research, comparison of questionnaire- and diary-measured nightmare frequency revealed a significantly higher log-transformed nightmare frequency on the questionnaire: t(127) = 4.43; P < 0.001. No differences were found regarding the number of nights with nightmares, t(127) = 0.61; P= 0.54. Regression analyses showed that subjective sleep quality was the only variable significantly associated with nightmare frequency variables in the whole sample (R2adj between 10.5–11.5%; P < 0.01). These results support the notion that nightmares are independent from other mental complaints in a population of nightmare sufferers and should therefore be viewed from a sleep medicine perspective: as a sleep disorder that can and should receive specific attention and treatment.