Everything about Nightmares

Everything about Nightmares

What is a Nightmare?

Nightmares are a common disorder with serious consequences. Recently, the cognitive behavioral interventions Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT) and exposure proved effective in a self-help format. IRT was more effective than the two other intervention conditions. Moreover, IRT was the only intervention that convincingly proved itself compared to the waiting-list condition. However, these data should be interpreted with caution due to the low power and high dropout. Yet it seems that in a self-help format, IRT and exposure (which was validated previously) are the treatments of choice for nightmares.

Lucid dreaming is often used in imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT). In IRT, a therapist helps you reimagine a recurring nightmare with a different, more pleasant storyline. When used with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), IRT with lucid dreaming induction can help increase dream control. A small 2017 study examined this effect by looking at 33 military veterans with PTSD and recurring nightmares. Some received CBT with IRT, while others received CBT alone. The group that received CBT with IRT experienced higher dream control, which reduced nightmare-induced stress.

What have horses got to do with it?

The word Nightmare has nothing to do with female horses. The Mare part of the word comes from Middle English from night + Old English mære ‘incubus’. Incubus is a female evil spirit thought to lie upon and suffocate sleepers.