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Sleep. 1992 Oct;15(5):470-3.

The beneficial effects of one treatment session and recording of nightmares on chronic nightmare sufferers.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque 87131.


Twenty subjects with chronic nightmares for 17.2 years mean duration were randomly divided into two groups: Rehearsal and Recording. At inception, subjects in both groups were instructed to write down their nightmares for one month. The Recording group received no other intervention. Rehearsal subjects received a single treatment group session teaching an imagery rehearsal technique to reduce nightmare frequency. At inception and three months follow-up, both groups were compared for nightmare frequency and for self-rated distress with scales (Symptom Checklist and Symptom Questionnaire) measuring anxiety, depression, hostility, somatization and total distress. Nightmare frequency decreased significantly in both groups: Rehearsal group-7.2 per month to 2.0 per month (72% reduction) (p < 0.006); Recording group-9.4 per month to 5.0 per month (47% reduction) (p < 0.02). There were no statistically significant differences in the nightmare frequency reductions between groups. All anxiety, depression, somatization, hostility and total distress scores decreased substantially in the Rehearsal group. Most changes were significant. Changes in the Recording group were inconsistent and not significant. Two brief case histories are presented.

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