Nightmares and bad dreams: their prevalence and relationship to well-being

J Abnorm Psychol. 2000 May;109(2):273-81.


This study, for the first time, distinguishes between nightmares and bad dreams, measures the frequency of each using dream logs, and separately assesses the relation between nightmares, bad dreams, and well-being. Eighty-nine participants completed 7 measures of well-being and recorded their dreams for 4 consecutive weeks. The dream logs yielded estimated mean annual nightmare and bad-dream frequencies that were significantly (ps < .01) greater than the mean 12-month and 1-month retrospective estimates. Nightmare frequency had more significant correlations than bad-dream frequency with well-being, suggesting that nightmares are a more severe expression of the same basic phenomenon. The findings confirm and extend evidence that nightmares are more prevalent than was previously believed and underscore the need to differentiate nightmares from bad dreams.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Dreams / classification*
  • Dreams / psychology*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales