Nightmares linked to anxiety and insomnia in people with heart disease

Credit: CC0 Public Domain.

Scientists from Keio University found heart patients with weekly nightmares are five times more likely to feel depressed or anxious and even more likely to have difficulty sleeping.

The study shows strong associations between depression, anxiety, insomnia, and bad dreams in patients with heart disease.

The research is published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing and was conducted by Dr. Takashi Kohno et al.

Previous research has found that frequent nightmares are linked to sleep and psychological disorders in the general population.

This was the first study to examine this link in patients with heart diseases. It also examined whether heart medications were connected with unpleasant dreams.

In the study, the team tested 1,233 patients admitted with various heart diseases to Keio University Hospital.

The average age was 64 years and 25% were women.

Nearly 15% of patients had at least one nightmare per month, and 3.6% had at least one nightmare per week (defined as frequent nightmares).

The team found women were more likely to have frequent unpleasant dreams compared to men. Some 45.9% of patients reported insomnia, 18.5% had depression, 16.9% had anxiety, and 28.0% had sleep-disordered breathing.

Frequent nightmares were not linked to heart medications and sleep-disordered breathing but were linked with depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

Patients with weekly bad dreams were five times more likely to be depressed, five times more likely to be anxious, and seven times more likely to have insomnia.

The team says health professionals should ask patients if they experience bad dreams as a warning sign for depression, anxiety, or trouble sleeping.

Psychological disorders and insomnia are linked with the development and progression of heart disease and upsetting dreams could be a clue that patients need extra prevention efforts.

Nightmares may be an alert for underlying psychological or sleep problems that should be addressed to avoid new, or worsening, heart problems.

If you care about sleep, please read studies about a new way to detect sleep apnea, and this drug could help treat insomnia, and sleep loss.

For more information about sleep, please see recent studies about how to deal with “COVID-somnia” and sleep well at night, and results showing if you get sleep paralysis, don’t open your eyes.

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