• The Behavioral Effects of Frequent Nightmares on Objective Stress Tolerance

      Hochard, Kevin D.; Heym, Nadja; Townsend, Ellen; University of Chester; Nottingham Trent University; University of Nottingham (Americal Psychological Association, 2016-03)
      Frequent nightmares have been linked to daily distress using self-report measures. The present study investigated the impact of frequent nightmares on a stressful cognitive test requiring participants to perform additions of two previously displayed single digit numbers from a number series, where display latency between digits becomes increasingly short - the Paced Visual Serial Addition Task-Computerized (PVSAT-C). Participants experiencing frequent nightmares (n=43) and controls (n=42) were compared on PVSAT-C performance. A significant main effect of nightmare frequency was observed with participants in the frequent nightmare group enduring the task for a shorter duration than controls (a behavioral measure of stress tolerance). Results suggest that individuals experiencing frequent nightmares have a reduced tolerance for stressors, leading to increased daily vulnerability to stressful stimuli. This study confirms previous findings linking nightmares and daily distress and extends the literature by providing objective evidence for the link between nightmares and reduced stress tolerance through behavioral testing. These findings highlight nightmares as a salient target for clinical intervention.
    • The unidirectional relationship of nightmares on self-harmful thoughts and behaviors

      Hochard, Kevin D.; Heym, Nadja; Townsend, Ellen; University of Chester ; Nottingham Trent University ; University of Nottingham (American Psychological Association, 2015-03-01)
      Understanding the direction of the predictive relationship between nightmares and suicidal behaviors is important to model its underlying mechanisms. We examine the direction of this relationship and the mediating role of negative affect. A fixed interval diary study obtained pre-sleep and post-sleep measures of affect, nightmares, and self-harmful thoughts and behaviors (SHTBs) from 72 university students (88.9% female). The results show predictive utility of nightmares on SHTBs - indicating a four-fold increased risk of SHTBs. Additionally, results support the suggestion of a unidirectional predictive influence (of nightmares on likelihood of SHTBs but not vice versa). Moreover, post-sleep negative affect partially mediated the relationship between nightmares and post-sleep SHTBs. This empirically validates assumptions of directionality for future models.