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J Psychol. 2011 Jul-Aug;145(4):331-42.

Frequency of nightmares and gender significantly predict distressing dreams of German athletes before competitions or games.

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Institute of Sports and Sports Science, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany.


Important sports events are highlights and stressful situations in every athlete's career. This stress might alter the dream content of athletes and consequently evoke disturbed dreaming. In this study, the authors asked 840 German athletes from various sports about distressing dreams on the nights before an important competition or game. About 15% of the athletes stated that they experienced at least 1 distressing dream before an important competition or game during the preceding 12 months. An almost equal number of athletes reported at least 1 distressing dream in their sports career. With respect to the base rate, in about 3% of the events a distressing dream occurred. Reported dream content referred mainly to athletic failure. The main risk factor for an athlete experiencing a distressing dream before a competition appears to be the frequency of experienced nightmares in general. Future research should use diary techniques to study the impact of distressing dreams on the next-day athletic performance in a competition or game.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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