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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 21:23 EDT

Study Suggests Women More Likely To Have Nightmares

September 11, 2008

New research suggests women experience significantly more nightmares than men and have more emotional dreams.

A recent study of 170 volunteers asked to record their most recent dream, 19% of men reported a nightmare compared with 30% of women.

There was no difference in the overall number of dreams reported, said researcher Dr. Jennifer Parker of the University of the West of England.

Previous research has shown women tend to have more disturbed sleep than men.

Changes in a woman’s body temperature during her monthly cycle have been linked to such sleep disturbances.

“It has been known for a long time that pre-menstrual women report more vivid and disturbing dreams,” said Dr. Parker, a lecturer in psychology.

“The consistent finding in this research was that women report more unpleasant dreams than men.”

The women who took part in the study were much more likely to report dreaming about very emotionally traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one.

“In terms of processing emotional information, women may be more prone to taking unresolved concerns into their sleep life.” Parker added.

“The research showed a gender difference but what is difficult to pick out is whether women are having more nightmares or remembering them better,” said Dr. Chris Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre.

He said the results fit in with what’s in the literature, as women’s sleep tends to be more disrupted and they have more insomnia.

“And more frequent wakening could cause them to pick up on the dream.

“But it could be that disturbed sleep is contributing to the fears.”

Nightmares in everyone were probably more common than people realized as they are quickly forgotten about, he added.

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