Victims of Bullying Are More Likely to Experience Nightmares

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Being bullied as a kid can make teenagers more likely to suffer from nightmares, according to new research. A study published in the journal of the American Pediatric Association analyzes the effect of adolescent bullying on sleep patterns. The results showed that being bullied increased the risk for sleep disorders called parasomnias, which include nightmares, night terrors, and sleep walking.

The research was done by professors at the University of Warwick. One of the researchers, Dieter Wolke, says,

We found children who were bullied at age 8 or 10 years were more likely to have nightmares, night terrors, or sleepwalking at age 12 years. Moreover, those who were bullied and bullied others (bully/victims) were most likely to have any parasomnia.

They also found that stress could be another factor in the connection between bullying and these sleeping problems. Dr. Suzet Tanya Lereya explains,

Nightmares may occur when anxiety exceeds a threshold level and several studies have suggested that trait anxiety may be related to the frequency of parasomnias. However, even after controlling for pre-existing anxiety problems our results showed that being bullied may increase the risk for parasomnias.

The researchers suggest talking to teens about bullying if you know they're experiencing frequent sleeping problems. It could be an explanation for their nightmares and a way to segue into that conversation.

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Did you know there’s a health and well-being magazine for teens? Learn more about Choices here, and check out our past stories about the importance of sleep, including "The Teen Who Woke Up Her School" and When Sleep Becomes A Nightmare"!