In nightmare etiology, trait and state factors play important roles. However, the interaction of state and trait factors has never been studied in a longitudinal design.
The current sample included 406 pregnant women who were followed up approximately 6 months after giving birth (n = 375) and 4 years later (n = 302). A nightmare frequency scale and several stress-related questionnaires were presented at three measurement points.
Despite the major life events in this sample, nightmare frequency was very stable over this time period and decreased slightly. In line with previous findings, cross-sectional analyses showed that stressors were associated with current nightmare frequency but longitudinal analyses indicated that previously measured nightmare frequency showed even stronger effects on current nightmare frequency.
Because the nightmare frequencies were very stable, it would be desirable to carry out intervention studies treating nightmares as early as possible—even in childhood—and study whether nightmare occurrence is lower even years after the intervention.
Schredl M, Gilles M, Wolf I, Peus V, Scharnholz B, Sütterlin M, Bardtke S, Send TS, Samaras A, Deuschle M. Nightmares and stress: a longitudinal study. J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(9):1209–1215.