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Treating nightmares in children with imagery rehearsal therapy

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  • nightmares
  • children

American Academy of Sleep Medicine  |  Jun 02, 2009
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Imagery rehearsal therapy is an effective way to treat adults with nightmare disorder. A new study from Canada shows that it also can be helpful for children.

The small study involved 11 boys and nine girls between 9 and 11 years of age. Each child had a moderate or severe nightmare problem; they had one nightmare or more per week for at least six months. None of the children had post-traumatic stress disorder.

Eleven children were put on a waiting list; nine of the children were treated with imagery rehearsal therapy. This is a way to train your brain to change your nightmares into a new set of images.

Results show that imagery rehearsal therapy reduced the frequency of nightmares. This effect lasted during a nine-month follow-up period. Nightmares became so rare that the researchers were unable to measure post-nightmare distress.

The AASM reports that children tend to begin having nightmares between the ages of three and six. The frequency of these disturbing dreams usually peaks between the ages of six and 10.

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