Nightmares and sleep disturbances are thought to play a key role in the development of posttrauma problems. Research efforts have increased in an attempt to understand this association. The present study examined differences in nightmare characteristics, related psychopathology, treatment outcome, and trauma history among trauma-exposed individuals whose nightmares began before a traumatic event and those whose nightmares began after a traumatic event, while controlling for posttraumatic stress disorder status. Individuals whose nightmares began following a trauma experienced more depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms and poorer sleep quality, reported a higher number of traumatic events, and were more likely to report nightmares replicative of or similar to the trauma than those whose nightmares began before the trauma. No other between-groups differences were found for nightmare characteristics or response to treatment. This study is an important step in understanding the nature of nightmares and their relationship to traumatic events and consequences, but additional research is warranted.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Sleep disturbance
ASJC Scopus subject areas