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Our bad! It looks like we're experiencing playback issues. Not wanting to lie down in the place where she'd had the dream, she swung over.
Table of contents

For continuous level 1 variables, this resulted in means and mean squared successive differences MSSD; Ebner-Priemer et al. For dichotomous level 1 data, frequencies were calculated.

Dreams and diet

MSSDs have the advantage of reflecting the deviation of values across time more accurately than classical standard deviations, because they consider the time sequence. Instead of just using the deviation from the mean, the deviation of a certain value from the preceding value in the time sequence is calculated, incorporating information from the time sequence format. For the multi-level person and occasion analyses, we calculated a GLMM for dichotomous data in line with the item-based analyses.

The level 1 predictors were current well-being, alcohol consumption the day before, life event the day before, and the feeling of fullness before going to sleep.

Bad Dreams

The three subscales of the NDQ were entered as level 2 predictors into the model. Prior to the analyses we person-mean centered all level 1 variables and grand-mean centered all level 2 variables Enders and Tofighi, Following the recommended procedure by Curran and Bauer , we reintroduced the person-mean from level 1 centering at level 2.

For the final analysis, we used the following model for each of the three dummy coded dream qualities:. Only one participant diverged with a difference of 7 years. Because the rest of the data from this participant was not suspect, we retained this participant in the data set.


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Although our data potentially allowed to differentiate between whether the nightmare was post-traumatic i. Therefore, we did not separate between those two types due to power reasons. In general, only two participants could not remember any dream at all. On average, Women had a higher frequency of bad dreams compared to men, 2.

If an NDQ items measures distress regarding nightmares, then it should show a positive association with nightmares, no association with bad dreams, and a negative or null association with nice dreams. Furthermore, only one of the items 9 of the NDQ Daytime Reality subscale showed an association with the occurrence of nightmares. All other items of the this subscale failed to show a significant association with nightmares. Counterintuitively, all Daytime Reality subscale items showed positive associations with nice dreams, though none was significant.

All items of the subscale did also show a consistent pattern of positive associations with bad dreams and negative associations with nice dream occurrence. Next, we were interested if the NDQ is associated with the frequency of each dream quality as well as other suggested influences on dream quality e. If the NDQ has construct validity, then it should correlate with nightmares and bad dream frequency positive correlations as well as mean well-being negative correlations; Blagrove et al. Furthermore, we should also find a higher fluctuation of well-being scores represented by MSSD due to nightmare distress.

Regarding potential daytime influences, nightmare distress should be associated with high food intake before sleep, alcohol consumption, and the occurrence of life events. Interestingly, frequently having nice dreams does not lower the probability of having a bad dream or nightmare. This supports the assumption that dreams are independent from each other with regard to their quality.

Bad Dreams | The New Yorker

Nightmare frequency was unrelated to trait- and state-levels of well-being, which was surprising. For nice and bad dream frequency, we found significant correlations in the expected directions nice dreams were positively associated with trait well-being, bad dreams negatively associated with trait well-being. Regarding construct validity NDQ General and NDQ Sleep showed convergent as well as discriminant validity by being positively correlated with nightmare and bad dream frequency, and negatively with the mean well-being during the 3-week time frame of data collection.

Descriptively, they did show the expected associations, though. NDQ Daytime Reality failed to show any significant correlations. Furthermore, we found that the NDQ was unable to differentiate between nightmare and bad dream frequency. In a further step, we wanted to know if there is an association of the three subscales of the NDQ with the probability of having a certain type of dream.

First, alcohol consumption, occurrence of a life event, and feelings of fullness did not show any significant effects on dream quality in any of the analyses except for a counterintuitive small effect of alcohol consumption on the probability of not having a bad dream and were therefore discarded to keep the models parsimonious. Higher general nightmare distress was associated with a lower chance for a nice dream, but a higher chance for a bad dream and nightmare although not significant for a nightmare.

In the present methodological study, we analyzed the validity of the NDQ, being one of the most used measures of nightmare distress. To achieve this, we implemented data from an experience sampling design. We assessed dream quality and further related variables over time, investigating the contextual associations as well as their associations with the NDQ. The results can be summarized as follows:. The items from the NDQ General subscale were able to differentiate between dream qualities negative vs. Similar to the NDQ Sleep subscale, it showed significant correlations with nightmare and bad dream frequencies, and convergent validity with well-being only the mean, not the fluctuations over time.

The items from the NDQ Sleep subscale were also capable of differentiating between positive and negative dream qualities except Item 4. The subscale showed significant correlations with nightmare and bad dream frequencies, and convergent validity with well-being again only the mean, not the fluctuations over time.


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  • The subscale was not capable of predicting any kind of dream quality in the multi-level analyses. Finally, the NDQ Daytime Reality subscale does not seem to be associated with nightmare distress at all. First, the items belonging to that subscale were not clearly capable of differentiating between negative and positive dream qualities in general except Item 9, but also revealed a counterintuitive positive association with nice dream occurrence. Interestingly, this subscale showed significant correlations with the frequency of life events and feeling of fullness frequency, in contrast to the other NDQ subscales.

    Nevertheless, because the NDQ General as well as the NDQ Sleep subscale did not show any substantial associations with these variables, it remains unclear if this can be interpreted as a sign of convergent validity for the NDQ Daytime Reality subscale.

    Explaining Idiopathic Nightmares

    Furthermore, from the multi-level view, NDQ Daytime Reality had a positive effect on the probability of having a nice dream, not, as would have been expected, negative dreams bad dream, nightmare. If at all, NDQ Daytime Reality might reflect a concept which is indirectly associated with nightmare distress.

    To sum up, item-based analyses revealed that the NDQ did not really differentiate between a bad dream and a nightmare. This is supported by the multi-level analyses where the NDQ had similar predictive value for the bad dream and nightmare descriptively, even higher for the bad dream. Therefore, the NDQ might be rather a measure of negative dream distress including bad dreams that are not nightmares. In our study, we only found few associations with dream quality and other indicators for this subscale, casting doubt on its validity and usefulness.

    Although past research found associations of negative dreams with well-being e. Participants with a higher frequency of nice dreams and lower frequency of bad dreams had higher well-being on average. Bad dream frequency was associated with a higher fluctuation of well-being over time. All the other potential predictors failed to show significant effects. Besides the possibility that indeed H 0 is true, there might be other explanations for these findings.

    First, alcohol consumption was only assessed in the 3-week time frame, i. Furthermore, the alcohol intake of the night before was assessed the next day. This measure has been shown to be less accurate than real-time assessment Monk et al. Second, the definition of life events was very broad, beginning with minor conflicts with the partner to severe life events such as the death of a beloved person.

    Focusing on severe life events might have shown effects. Third, the effect of food intake onto dreams is in general a rather weak finding mostly of anecdotal origin Nielsen and Powell, In our study, we did not find any effects for feelings of fullness, except for NDQ Daytime reality, but its validity is unclear. Although we collected over 3, data points from 92 participants, 44 retests, and a mean compliance rate of Nevertheless, convergent validity requires substantial correlations.

    Therefore, the low power for small effects only reduces the exploratory power of divergent validity where weak to null correlations are expected. Furthermore, our results are limited by the fact that our sample was relatively young and consists mainly of women. Moreover, we had a non-clinical sample. Associations between the NDQ and the prospectively assessed items might be different in actual patients. It is interesting that the frequencies of the different dream qualities were almost unrelated.

    This supports the assumption that a certain dream type on a particular day does not influence the occurrence of a certain dream type in the following night such as dream-lag effects; e. Future research might address this in more detail. The awakening, which distinguishes nightmares from bad dreams, did not elicit any differences in distress. Because the questions in the NDQ explicitly focus on the frequency of nightmare-related aspects e. Future research could investigate the differentiation further to try to discern distress from bad dreams and nightmares.

    Because prevalence rates of nightmares in the population are comparatively high, future research could try to assess situation-dependent state-aspects of nightmare distress in the morning after a nightmare took place using an experience sampling design with an event-based sampling procedure.

    After several of these events, a mean of these NDQ state scale measurements can be calculated which might be a better predictor of nightmare-related aspects than the classical trait-based NDQ for a similar discussion about the dimensional structure of state- and trait-aspects, see Schimmack et al. SS and TK conceived and designed the study, acquired the data, and wrote the manuscript.

    SS analyzed and interpreted the data. The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.

    What is Nightmare Disorder? (Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Prevention)

    Journal List Front Neurosci v. Front Neurosci. Published online Dec 5. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. This article was submitted to Decision Neuroscience, a section of the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

    Received Jul 12; Accepted Nov The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author s and the copyright owner s are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice.

    Why You Shouldn't Tell People about Your Dreams

    No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Abstract Nightmares are a comparatively frequent phenomenon.

    Yes, Burger King's Halloween-themed "Nightmare King" burger is allegedly "clinically proven" to induce nightmares, according to a press release from the company. The fast-food chain commissioned a sleep study to bolster their claims that the green-bunned burger causes bad dreams.