Childhood nightmares could foreshadow mental health issues
Children who experience nightmares on a regular basis may be more at risk of mental health problems than children who have few or no nightmares, according to a new study.
Scientists from the University of Warwickfin the U.K. followed sleep patterns of 6,800 children until the age of 12. Throughout the study, researchers asked the parents questions about their children’s sleep behaviors. At the end of the study, the children underwent assessments for hallucinations, delusions and other psychotic experiences.
The results of the study, published in the journal Sleep, showed that the children who had nightmares on a regular basis increased their risk of developing mental health problems by more than three times, and the risk was almost doubled if the children also experienced night terrors.
Researchers said that they are unable to conclude that treating sleep issues may prevent psychotic events, as the relationship between psychosis and sleep issues remains unclear. They said that it is important, however, to identify signs of any potential mental illness early on in life in order to prevent disorders in adulthood. In order to fight nightmares, researchers suggested avoiding anxiety-promoting films and computers at night, getting regular sleep and practicing good sleep hygiene.