The mediational roles of sleep disorders and nightmares in the relationship between trauma and dissociation.

The aim of this study was to test the validity of the “sleep-dissociation” perspective. In addition, and to gain a more comprehensive overview of the trauma—sleep—dissociation complex, we aimed to test in which manner and to what degree trauma sleep disorders and nightmares are related to dissociation. A total of 100 male and 100 female university students with mean age of 24 completed and returned a 160-item questionnaire designed to detect the extent of dissociation, childhood and recent trauma history, sleep disorders, and nightmares. Correlation analyses showed that sleep disorders and nightmares correlated significantly with history of childhood and recent trauma and dissociation. Findings from bootstrapping procedures showed that nightmares and sleep disorders, separately from each other, mediated the relationship between trauma and dissociation. However, when nightmares and sleep disorders were analyzed together in one data set, the only significant mediator was nightmares, which explained a substantial proportion of the total effect of childhood trauma on dissociation. These observations support the “sleep-dissociation” perspective on the relationship between trauma and dissociation, meaning that traumatic events might engender both sleep disturbances and nightmares, which in turn might play a pivotal role in the genesis of dissociative symptoms. The results of this study imply that trauma survivors, routinely, should be assessed and monitored with regard to sleep disorders and nightmares. Treating nightmares and, consequently, securing trauma survivors a consistent sleeping pattern and quality may play an important role in preventing the potential occurrence of dissociative symptoms. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)