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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Nightmares could lead to health issues

3rd March 2014

Researchers from Warwick University, UK, have suggested long-term problems with nightmares and night terrors could be linked to a higher risk of psychotic disorders later in life.


Over 6,500 children (up to the age of 12) were tested. Although most of them had nightmares, 37% of the cases had nightmares for several years in succession. 

Those with nightmares or night terrors were 3.5 times more likely to be one of the 47/1,000 children who has some form of mental health issue.

Lucie Russell, the director of campaigns at YoungMinds, said: "This is a very important study because anything that we can do to promote early identification of signs of mental illness is vital to help the thousands of children that suffer."

Although the relation between sleep and psychosis is not clear, one theory is that bullying or other traumatic events in life can cause both symptoms. Another theory is that some children's brains are wired differently and find it more difficult to distinguish between real and unreal, and sleeping and wakefulness.

One of the researchers of the study, Prof Wolke, said: "Sleep hygiene is very important, they should have more regular sleep, avoid anxiety-promoting films before bed and not have a computer at night."

Night terrors occur at specific points during sleep and can be managed by briefly waking the child.

Further information on nightmares:


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