To identify risk factors for experiencing nightmares among the Finnish general adult population. The study aimed to both test whether previously reported correlates of frequent nightmares could be reproduced in a large population sample and to explore previously unreported associations.
Two independent cross-sectional population surveys of the National FINRISK Study.
Age- and sex-stratified random samples of the Finnish population in 2007 and 2012.
A total of 13,922 participants (6,515 men and 7,407 women) aged 25–74 y.
Measurements and Results:
Nightmare frequency as well as several items related to socioeconomic status, sleep, mental well-being, life satisfaction, alcohol use, medication, and physical well-being were recorded with a questionnaire. In multinomial logistic regression analysis, a depression-related negative attitude toward the self (odds ratio [OR] 1.32 per 1-point increase), insomnia (OR 6.90), and exhaustion and fatigue (OR 6.86) were the strongest risk factors for experiencing frequent nightmares (P < 0.001 for all). Sex, age, a self-reported impaired ability to work, low life satisfaction, the use of antidepressants or hypnotics, and frequent heavy use of alcohol were also strongly associated with frequent nightmares (P < 0.001 for all).
Symptoms of depression and insomnia were the strongest predictors of frequent nightmares in this dataset. Additionally, a wide variety of factors related to psychological and physical well-being were associated with nightmare frequency with modest effect sizes. Hence, nightmare frequency appears to have a strong connection with sleep and mood problems, but is also associated with a variety of measures of psychological and physical well-being.
Sandman N, Valli K, Kronholm E, Revonsuo A, Laatikainen T, Paunio T. Nightmares: risk factors among the finnish general adult population. SLEEP 2015;38(4):507–514.