Imagery rehearsal treatment of chronic nightmares: with a thirty month follow-up

J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 1993 Dec;24(4):325-30. doi: 10.1016/0005-7916(93)90057-4.


Nightmare frequency and self-rated distress were assessed retrospectively in two groups of chronic nightmare sufferers 30 months after treatment. In the initial phase, the image group (N = 9) learned a cognitive-behavioral technique (imagery rehearsal) for the treatment of nightmares. They were taught in one group session to: (1) record a nightmare; (2) change it (usually to something positive); and (3) rehearse the new images daily. The record group (N = 10) recorded nightmares during the first month only and learned imagery rehearsal subsequent to 3-month follow-up measurements. At 3 months and at 30 months, both groups had significantly fewer nightmares, but only the rehearsal group had less total distress. The results support the theory that nightmares are a primary sleep disorder rather than a symptom of an underlying psychiatric problem.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Dreams / psychology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Recurrence
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / classification
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*