Researchers from the University of Turku in Finland and the Finnish National Institute of Health and Welfare analyse data from two independent cross-sectional surveys of the

Finnish general adult population conducted in 2007 and 2012.

Participants were 13,922 adults between 25 and 74 years of age. Researchers found that 3.9 per cent of participants reported having frequent nightmares during the previous 30 days, including 4.8 per cent of women and 2.9 per cent of men.
    
Frequent nightmares were reported by 28.4 per cent of participants with severe depressive symptoms and 17.1 per cent of those with frequent insomnia.
    
Further analysis that adjusted for potential confounders found that the strongest independent risk factors for nightmares were insomnia, exhaustion and the depressive symptom of "negative attitude toward self."
    
"Our study shows a clear connection between well-being and nightmares," said lead author Nils Sandman, a researcher in the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Turku.

"This is most evident in the connection between nightmares and depression, but also apparent in many other analyses involving nightmares and questions measuring life satisfaction and health," Sandman said.
    
Sandman noted that the cross-sectional study did not allow for an examination of causality.
    
"It might be possible that nightmares could function as early indicators of onset of depression and therefore have previously untapped diagnostic value," he said.
    
"Also, because nightmares, insomnia and depression often appear together, would it be possible to treat all of these problems with an intervention directed solely toward nightmares?" Sandman said.
    
The results are published in the journal Sleep.

 

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