Friday, September 02, 2011

Night Owls More Likely to Suffer from Nightmares, Survey Suggests: Scientific American 

Night Owls More Likely to Suffer from Nightmares, Survey Suggests

A preliminary study hints that people who hit the hay later are more prone to bad dreams, but the reason remains unclear

Image: © iStockphoto/PinkBadger

Night owls might think staying up late is a real hoot, but a new study hints that delayed sleep might have a sinister side. People who hit the sack late might have a greater risk of experiencing nightmares, according to scientists, although they add that follow-up research is needed to confirm the link.

"It's a very interesting preliminary study, and we desperately need more research in this area," says Jessica Payne, director of the Sleep, Stress and Memory Lab at the University of Notre Dame, commenting on the new findings.

Previous reports have estimated 80 percent of adults experience at least one nightmare a year, with 5 percent suffering from disturbing dreams more than once a month. The new paper, from a group of scientists writing in the journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms, surveyed 264 university students about their sleep habits and frequency of nightmares, defined as "dysphoric dreams associated with feelings of threat, anxiety, fear or terror."

The scientists, led by Yavuz Selvi at the Yuzuncu Yil University in Van, Turkey, used a measure known as the Van Dream Anxiety Scale to assess the rate of bad dreams. Specifically, study participants were asked to rate their frequency of experiencing nightmares on a scale from zero to 4, corresponding to never and always, respectively.

Night Owls More Likely to Suffer from Nightmares, Survey Suggests: Scientific American

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