Issue Navigator

Volume 15 No. 09
Earn CME
Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Nightmares and Stress: A Longitudinal Study

Michael Schredl, PhD1; Maria Gilles, MD1; Isabell Wolf, PhD1; Verena Peus, MD1; Barbara Scharnholz, MD1; Marc Sütterlin, MD2; Svenja Bardtke, MA1; Tabea Sarah Send, MA1; Angelina Samaras, MA1; Michael Deuschle, MD1
1Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim/Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany; 2Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Medical Center Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Mannheim, Germany

Study Objectives:

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.

Please login to continue reading the full article

Subscribers to JCSM get full access to current and past issues of the JCSM.

Login to JCSM

Not a subscriber?

Join the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and receive a subscription to JCSM with your membership

Subscribe to JCSM:  $125/volume year for individuals or $225/volume year for institutions to access all current articles and archives published in JCSM.

Download this article*:   $20 to access a PDF version of a specific article from the current issue of JCSM.

*Purchase of an article provides permission to access and print the article for personal scholarly, research and educational use. Please note: access to the article is from the computer on which the article is purchased ONLY. Purchase of the article does not permit distribution, electronic or otherwise, of the article without the written permission of the AASM. Further, purchase does not permit the posting of article text on an online forum or website.