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J Sleep Res. 1998 Sep;7(3):191-8.

Dreaming and insomnia: dream recall and dream content of patients with insomnia.

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  • 1Sleep Laboratory, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany.


The present study investigated dream recall frequency and dream content of patients with insomnia in comparison to healthy controls. Patients' dream recall frequency was elevated, due mainly to their heightened frequency of nocturnal awakenings. Dream content seems to reflect waking life stressors found in these patients, i.e. dream emotions were more negative and dreams were characterized by themes of depression, 'negatives' in self-description and health themes. Patients taking antidepressants showed lower dream recall frequency than patients without any medication; benzodiazepine intake, however, did not affect dream recall frequency. Both drug groups reported more positively toned dreams than drug-free patients. It is suggested that future studies should use more dreams per subject in order to reduce error variance of the dream content measures and more detailed measures of waking life stress.

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