Sound can help nightmare sufferers sleep better

Although it is one of the most important parts of people’s daily lives, not everyone can guarantee deep and healthy sleep. Among the many reasons, a very common one: nightmares. Given this, scientists have thought of manipulating sleep in order to help those who suffer from nightmares.

With the investigation, and although it was necessary to deepen the subject, they realized that this help could be given to people through sound.

Nightmares while sleeping

About 4% of the general adult population can have frequent nightmares at any time, and nightmares are even more common among people with certain mental health conditions. By the way, if you are one of those people who can guarantee a good night's sleep, know that there are those who cannotfor something as distressing as chronic nightmares.

There are several treatments used for this condition, including a cognitive-behavioral technique called replay therapy, which asks patients to think about their nightmares and then imagine another happier ending for them. The prospect is that these exercises will be transported to the realm of dreams and the nights will be calmer.


Although the technique may be effective in helping people deal with their nightmares, around 30% of patients do not improve, and even those who benefit from it may continue to have nightmares. In order to help in this area, scientists have discovered a method that can increase the effectiveness of existing therapeutic treatments for those who cannot get rid of this problem: sound.

Sound can help people who have nightmares and improve their sleep

A group of researchers from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, wanted to test this chance of success could be improved by adapting an existing technique known as directed memory reactivation (IRT). It assumes that people are trained to associate a newly formed memory or a newly learned skill with a specific sound, which is then played during sleep.

Previous research has concluded that trained people seem to remember or perform better in their new skill later than untrained people. This investigation has largely involved the use of guided memory reactivation during non-REM sleep. So the researchers wanted to see if it would still work during REM sleep. This included the phases in which most dreams and nightmares occur.


For this, the researchers recruited 36 people suffering from chronic nightmares. Each patient underwent the IRT, but half were randomly selected to associate that their new dream would end with a sound cue (in this case, a piano chord). For the next two weeks, at home, all patients recorded their dreams in a diary and had their brain activity monitored with a bracelet they wore overnight.

In general, both groups reported fewer nightmares on average than before, but those in the sound group had even fewer than the others.

The study sample is relatively small, so the results should not be taken as definitive proof that sounds can help people stave off nightmares. However, this survey may pave the way for others who, with a larger sample, may or may not support this conclusion.

Read also :

Add Comment