People are most at risk of experiencing frequent nightmares if they are depressed or suffer with insomnia, a study has found.
Researchers in Finland set out to identify risk factors for nightmares. They looked at almost 14,000 men and women aged between 25 and 74.
The participants were asked how often they experienced nightmares. They were also asked about topics such as mental wellbeing, life satisfaction, alcohol use and physical wellbeing.
Half of the participants said they did not suffer with nightmares at all, however, almost 4% said that they had experienced frequent nightmares during the previous 30 days, while 45% said they had experienced nightmares occasionally during the same period.
The study found that people most at risk of experiencing frequent nightmares were those who were depressed, followed by those with insomnia and those who were exhausted or fatigued.
Other risk factors included low life satisfaction, the use of antidepressants, frequent heavy use of alcohol and an impaired ability to work.
"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 wellbeing 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 wellbeing," the researchers concluded.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, Sleep.
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