Dreams, Nightmares and the Relationship with Death Anxiety and Spiritual practices

Ian Dunican, Hailey Meaklim, M Turner, R Menzies, David Cunnington

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Dreams that evoke intense negative emotions and anxiety, called nightmares, are often linked to mental health conditions like trauma, anxiety disorders, and death anxiety. Historically, people turned to religious and spiritual practices to address anxieties about death, but there has been a decline in such practices in recent years. This study presents preliminary data investigating the relationship between dreams, nightmares, religious/spiritual practice, and death anxiety.

Participants >18 years completed a 20-minute survey via REDCap. The survey collected demographic data and validated questionnaires investigating dreams, nightmares, sleep, insomnia symptoms, religious/spiritual practice, mental health, and death anxiety.

Preliminary data shows that 67% of the sample were married or in a de facto relationship, consisted of primarily female participants (66%), and only 11% had a diagnosed sleep disorder. 56% had a high engagement in the distinct forms of spiritual/religious practice; this was more evident in females (59% vs 48%). The most common dream for males and females was being chased or pursued. 19% of the sample have a potential nightmare disorder, consistent between the sexes. 25% of people have poor sleep quality (PSQI ≥5); this was more prevalent in males (43% vs 22%). 16% of people had clinical insomnia, which was consistent between the sexes. Finally, 16% of people have clinical death anxiety, with a higher prevalence in females (18% vs 10%).

This study's data will help us understand how dreams and spirituality can help alleviate death anxiety, offering new insights for mental health interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberP015
Pages (from-to)A39
Number of pages1
JournalSleep Advances
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Dreams, Nightmares and the Relationship with Death Anxiety and Spiritual practices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this