The perceptions of nightmare sufferers regarding the functions, causes, and consequences of their nightmares, and their coping strategies

  • Alexandre Lemyre (Author)
  • Myreille St-Onge (Author)
    École de travail social et de criminologie, Université Laval
  • Annie Vallières (Author)
    École de psychologie, Université Laval

Identifiers (Article)

Abstract

The administration of treatments for nightmares, and more broadly, clinical work with patients reporting dysphoric dreams as a concomitant psychological difficulty, could be improved based on a better understanding of the experience of nightmare sufferers. The objective of this study was to explore the perceptions of nightmare sufferers regarding the functions, causes, and consequences of their nightmares, as well as their strategies for coping with nightmares. Twenty university students with frequent nightmares took part in an individual semi‑structured interview constructed by the research team. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Verbatim were analysed using a content analysis method. Four major findings emerge from this study. Firstly, the main perceived causes of nightmares, including one’s occupational and social life, support the hypothesis that dreams reflect waking concerns. Secondly, nightmares tend to decrease sleep quality and to provoke sleep fragmentation, which may be aggravated by sleep avoidance and voluntary awakening from lucid nightmares. In turn, the fatigue that results from a disturbed sleep can negatively affect concentration, daily functioning and mood. Thirdly, nightmares can impact emotions upon awakening and during the day, directly and indirectly, through various mechanisms. Fourthly, nightmares are frequently perceived as a source of personal insight: half of the participants believe that their dreams can reveal information about themselves, searching for the signification of nightmares is one of the most common coping strategies, and many participants experienced a reflection or realization following a nightmare. A model is proposed to integrate the findings and explain how the nightmare problem might perpetuate itself.

Statistics

Last Weeks
KW
Downloads
Current Year
2019
Downloads
Prior Year
2018
Downloads
All Years
Downloads
Logo OA-Statistic
  • The statistics covers the time 19. November 2019 to 19. November 2019.
  • The statistics complies to COUNTER Code of Practice.
    More information can soon be found at the FAQ page.

References

American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2014). The International Classification of Sleep Disorders – Third Edition. Darien, IL: American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Araújo, T., Jarrin, D. C., Leanza, Y., Vallières, A., & Morin, C. M. (2017). Qualitative studies of insomnia: Current state of knowledge in the field. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 31, 58-69. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2016.01.003
Aurora, R. N., Zak, R. S., Auerbach, S. H., Casey, K. R., Chowdhuri, S., Karippot, A., . . . Morgenthaler, T. I. (2010). Best practice guide for the treatment of nightmare disorder in adults. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 6(4), 389-401.
Carskadon, M. A., & Dement, W. C. (2005). Normal human sleep: An overview. In M. H. Kryger, T. Roth, & W. C. Dement (Eds.), Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (pp. 16-26). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders/Elsevier.
Casement, M. D., & Swanson, L. M. (2012). A meta-analysis of imagery rehearsal for post-trauma nightmares: Effects on nightmare frequency, sleep quality, and posttraumatic stress. Clinical Psychology Review, 32(6), 566-574. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2012.06.002
Cohen, A., & Zadra, A. (2015). An analysis of laypeople’s beliefs regarding the origins of their worst nightmare. International Journal of Dream Research, 8(2), 120-128.
Domhoff, G. W. (1996). Finding meaning in dreams: A quantitative approach. New York, NY: Plenum Press.
Domhoff, G. W. (2003). The scientific study of dreams: Neural networks, cognitive development, and content analysis. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Domhoff, G. W. (2011). Dreams are embodied simulations that dramatize conceptions and concerns: The continuity hypothesis in empirical, theoretical, and historical context. International Journal of Dream Research, 4(2), 50-62.
Dunn, K. K., & Barrett, D. (1988). Characteristics of nightmare subjects and their nightmares. Psychiatric Journal of the University of Ottawa, 13(2), 91-93.
Edwards, C. L., Malinowski, J. E., McGee, S. L., Bennett, P. D., Ruby, P. M., & Blagrove, M. T. (2015). Comparing personal insight gains due to consideration of a recent dream and consideration of a recent event using the Ullman and Schredl dream group methods. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1-10. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00831
Edwards, C. L., Ruby, P. M., Malinowski, J. E., Bennett, P. D., & Blagrove, M. T. (2013). Dreaming and insight. Frontiers in Psychology, 4, 1-14. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00979
Gieselmann, A., Ait Aoudia, M., Carr, M., Germain, A., Gorzka, R., Holzinger, B., . . . Pietrowsky, R. (2019). Aetiology and treatment of nightmare disorder: State of the art and future perspectives. Journal of Sleep Research, Online before publication. doi:10.1111/jsr.12820
Hansen, K., Höfling, V., Kröner-Borowik, T., Stangier, U., & Steil, R. (2013). Efficacy of psychological interventions aiming to reduce chronic nightmares: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(1), 146-155. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2012.10.012
Hinton, D. E., Hinton, A. L., Pich, V., Loeum, J. R., & Pollack, M. H. (2009). Nightmares among Cambodian refugees: The breaching of concentric ontological security. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 33(2), 219-265. doi:10.1007/s11013-009-9131-9
Hochard, K. D., Heym, N., & Townsend, E. (2015). The unidirectional relationship of nightmares on self-harmful thoughts and behaviors. Dreaming, 25(1), 44-58. doi:10.1037/a0038617
Köthe, M., & Pietrowsky, R. (2001). Behavioral effects of nightmares and their correlations to personality patterns. Dreaming, 11(1), 43-52. doi:10.1023/A:1009468517557
Krakow, B. (2006). Nightmare complaints in treatment-seeking patients in clinical sleep medicine settings: Diagnostic and treatment implications. Sleep, 29(10), 1313-1319. doi:10.1093/sleep/29.10.1313
Krakow, B., & Zadra, A. (2006). Clinical management of chronic nightmares: Imagery rehearsal therapy. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 4(1), 45-70. doi:10.1207/s15402010bsm0401_4
L'Écuyer, R. (1990). Méthodologie de l'analyse développementale de contenu. Québec, Canada: Presses de l'Université du Québec.
Levin, R., Fireman, G., Spendlove, S., & Pope, A. (2011). The relative contribution of affect load and affect distress as predictors of disturbed dreaming. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 9(3), 173-183. doi:10.1080/15402002.2011.583905
Levin, R., & Nielsen, T. A. (2007). Disturbed dreaming, posttraumatic stress disorder, and affect distress: A review and neurocognitive model. Psychological Bulletin, 133(3), 482-528. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.133.3.482
Malinowski, J. E. (2016). Themes in participants’ understandings of meaning in their most recent dream: Worries, relationships, and symbolism. International Journal of Dream Research, 9(2), 115-123.
Malinowski, J. E., Fylan, F., & Horton, C. L. (2014). Experiencing “continuity”: A qualitative investigation of waking life in dreams. Dreaming, 24(3), 161-175. doi:10.1037/a0037305
Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2016). Designing qualitative research (6th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE Publications.
Morgenthaler, T. I., Auerbach, S., Casey, K. R., Kristo, D., Maganti, R., Ramar, K., . . . Kartje, R. (2018). Position Paper for the Treatment of Nightmare Disorder in Adults: An American Academy of Sleep Medicine Position Paper. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 14(6), 1041-1055. doi:10.5664/jcsm.7178
Nielsen, T. (2000). A review of mentation in REM and NREM sleep: “covert” REM sleep as a possible reconciliation of two opposing models. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 851-866.
Nielsen, T., & Levin, R. (2007). Nightmares: A new neurocognitive model. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 11(4), 295-310. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2007.03.004
Pesant, N., & Zadra, A. (2004). Working with dreams in therapy: What do we know and what should we do? Clinical Psychology Review, 24(5), 489-512. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2004.05.002
Revonsuo, A. (2000). The reinterpretation of dreams: An evolutionary hypothesis of the function of dreaming. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 877-901.
Robotham, D. (2008). Stress among higher education students: Towards a research agenda. Higher Education, 56(6), 735-746. doi:10.1007/s10734-008-9137-1
Schredl, M. (2013a). Nightmare frequency in a representative German sample. International Journal of Dream Research, 6(2), 119-122.
Schredl, M. (2013b). Seeking professional help for nightmares: A representative study. The European Journal of Psychiatry, 27(4), 259-264. doi:10.4321/S0213-61632013000400004
Schredl, M., & Erlacher, D. (2004). Lucid dreaming frequency and personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 37(7), 1463-1473. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2004.02.003
Schredl, M., & Reinhard, I. (2009). The continuity between waking mood and dream emotions: Direct and second-order effects. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 29(3), 271-282. doi:10.2190/IC.29.3.f
Selterman, D. F., Apetroaia, A. I., Riela, S., & Aron, A. (2014). Dreaming of you: Behavior and emotion in dreams of significant others predict subsequent relational behavior. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(1), 111-118. doi:10.1177/1948550613486678
Spoormaker, V. I., & Montgomery, P. (2008). Disturbed sleep in post-traumatic stress disorder: Secondary symptom or core feature? Sleep Medicine Reviews, 12(3), 169-184. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2007.08.008
Stumbrys, T., Erlacher, D., Schädlich, M., & Schredl, M. (2012). Induction of lucid dreams: A systematic review of evidence. Consciousness and Cognition: An International Journal, 21(3), 1456-1475. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2012.07.003
Terriquez, V., & Gurantz, O. (2015). Financial challenges in emerging adulthood and students’ decisions to stop out of college. Emerging Adulthood, 3(3), 204-214. doi:10.1177/2167696814550684
Thünker, J., Norpoth, M., von Aspern, M., Özcan, T., & Pietrowsky, R. (2014). Nightmares: Knowledge and attitudes in health care providers and nightmare sufferers. Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology, 6(7), 223-228.
Valli, K., & Revonsuo, A. (2009). The threat simulation theory in light of recent empirical evidence: A review. The American Journal of Psychology, 122(1), 17-38.
Wickens, C. D., Hutchins, S. D., Laux, L., & Sebok, A. (2015). The impact of sleep disruption on complex cognitive tasks: A meta-analysis. Human Factors, 57(6), 930-946. doi:10.1177/0018720815571935
Zink, N., & Pietrowsky, R. (2015). Theories of dreaming and lucid dreaming: An integrative review towards sleep, dreaming and consciousness. International Journal of Dream Research, 8(1), 35-53.
Published
2019-10-01
Section
Articles
Academic discipline and sub-disciplines
Psychology
Contributor or sponsoring agency
None
Subjects
20 university students with frequent nightmares
Keywords
sleep disorders; mental health; lived experience; psychological issues; young adults