Nightmare frequency in schizophrenic patients, healthy relatives of schizophrenic patients, patients at high risk states for psychosis, and healthy controls
Schizophrenia is often accompanied by sleep problems, but dreaming seems to be altered as well. The present study investigated nightmare frequency and its correlates in patients with schizophrenia, patients in at risk mental states for psychosis (ARMS), first-grade relatives of schizophrenic patients, and healthy controls. Patients with schizophrenia experienced significantly more nightmares compared to healthy controls. Moreover, nightmare frequency was found to be linked to patients’ subjective distress. ARMS patients also showed heightened nightmare frequency whereas nightmare frequencies of first-grade relatives were comparable to the values of healthy controls. As nightmare frequency was not related to the severity of positive symptoms or present in subjects at increased genetic risk, they seem to reflect the waking-life distress associated with the disorder and its prodrome. Longitudinal studies should be carried out to take a closer look at the interaction between stress and nightmares.