Researchers report that heart patients who have nightmares on a weekly basis are five times more likely to feel depressed or anxious than even patients who do not have recurring nightmares, and even have more trouble sleeping.
According to the study, published in the European Journal of Nursing and Cardiovascular Disease, mental disorders and insomnia are linked to heart disease and its progression, and disturbed sleep may be a sign that patients need more preventive measures.
“Our study shows a strong association between depression, anxiety, insomnia and poor sleep in heart patients,” said Dr. Takashi Kono, a professor at the University of Japan School of Medicine.
“Since this was a field study, it could not determine the cause-and-effect relationship, but there could be a two-way relationship between the two,” Kono added. In other words, depression, anxiety, and insomnia can cause nightmares, and nightmares can lead to depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Previous medical research has shown the association of recurring nightmares with sleep patterns and mental disorders in the general population. This is the first study of its kind to examine this relationship in heart patients. The study also looked at whether heart medications were linked to unpleasant sleep.