The relationship between disturbed dreaming and somatic distress: A prospective investigation

Ross Levin, Emily Lantz, Gary Fireman, Stuart Spendlove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Despite an abundant literature on disturbed dreaming (DD) incidence and psychopathology, little is known about the pathogenesis of these dream disturbances. Recent work strongly suggests that DD distress may be the primary determinant of the relationship between DD and waking psychological impairment. This is the first empirical investigation of the possible role of somatic distress as a crucial pathway in this relationship. A total of 313 college undergraduates completed 3 measures of somatic distress (SCL-90-R Somatization scale, Somatic Interpretations Questionnaire and the Anxiety Sensitivity Index) and then monitored their DD incidence and distress for 21 consecutive days. It was predicted that high levels of somatic distress would be associated with heightened levels of both DD incidence and distress. Although the results were somewhat mixed, individuals who reported more incidents of both bad dreams and nightmares did indeed report higher levels of somatic distress. The results were largely consistent with our predictions and the findings are discussed with regard to recent modeling by in identifying key cognitive diatheses for the development of DD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-612
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Disturbed dreaming
  • Nightmares
  • Somatic distress


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