, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 155–169 | Cite as

Nightmares as a Coping Mechanism for Stress

  • Dante Picchioni
  • Brandy Goeltzenleucher
  • Del N. Green
  • Mary J. Convento
  • Rebecca Crittenden
  • Michelle Hallgren
  • Robert A. Hicks


The cause of nightmares remains unclear. However, previous research suggests that stress may play a key role and that nightmares may actually serve a beneficial function. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the overall relationship between these two variables and assess the hypothesis that nightmares serve as a coping mechanism for stress. To accomplish these goals, a group of 412 psychology students were separated into low, medium, and high nightmare frequency groups as well as low, medium, and high nightmare intensity groups. Comparisons were then conducted for daily stressors, life stressors, social support, and coping. Most notably, this study demonstrated a positive association between nightmares and coping with stress. The overall pattern seen in the analyses reflect the significant relationship between nightmares and stress, while the finding that nightmares were positively associated with coping bolsters the supposition that nightmares may help to alleviate stress.

dreams nightmares stress coping social support 


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Copyright information

© Association for the Study of Dreams 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dante Picchioni
    • 1
  • Brandy Goeltzenleucher
    • 1
  • Del N. Green
    • 1
  • Mary J. Convento
    • 1
  • Rebecca Crittenden
    • 1
  • Michelle Hallgren
    • 1
  • Robert A. Hicks
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySan José State UniversitySan José

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