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Sleep. 2008 Jan;31(1):62-70.

Longitudinal study of bad dreams in preschool-aged children: prevalence, demographic correlates, risk and protective factors.

Author information

1
Centre d'etude du sommeil, Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal, Quebec, Canada.

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVES:

To (1) clarify the epidemiology of bad dreams in children and investigate risk and protective factors related to (2) the child's sleep, (3) parental sleep-enabling practices, and (4) the child's temperament.

DESIGN:

Longitudinal with 6 time points from 5 months to 6 years.

SETTING:

Subjects' homes.

PARTICIPANTS:

Representative sample of 987 children in the Province of Quebec.

INTERVENTIONS:

None.

MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS:

Longitudinal logistic regression analysis models with primary endpoints of presence or absence of parent-rated bad dreams at 29 months, 41 months, 50 months, 5 years, and 6 years and predictor variables of demographic characteristics, parent ratings of child's sleep characteristics, parental sleep-enabling practices (e.g., cosleeping), and child's psychological characteristics at 5 and 17 months (anxiousness, temperament). Mothers' ratings indicated lower than expected prevalence of frequent bad dreams (1.3% to 3.9%). Demographic correlates of bad dreams were high family income, absence of siblings at 29 months, and a non-immigrant mother. The best predictor at 41 and 50 months was the presence of bad dreams the preceding year, whereas at 5 and 6 years, it was their earlier presence at 29 months. Early protective factors were parental practices favoring emotional nurturance after night awakenings (29 and 41 months); early risk factors were sleep-onset emotional nurturance (29 months), difficult temperament (5 months), and anxiousness (17 months).

CONCLUSIONS:

Bad dreams in preschoolers are less prevalent than thought but, when present, are trait-like in nature and associated with personality characteristics measured as early as 5 months. A stress-diathesis model may best account for the observed pattern of predictive factors.

PMID:
18220079
PMCID:
PMC2225564
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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