National Sleep Foundation

Chapter 6: Parasomnias

Prevalence of Nightmares

While nightmares can occur at any age, children experience them more often than adults. Nightmares tend to diminish after adolescence. Although almost all adults have had nightmares during their lifetime, only about 30 percent experience one or more nightmares every month. Only about one to two percent of adults have nightmares that are severe and frequent (i.e., occurring almost nightly).1


  1. Nielson T, Zadra A, “Idiopathic Nightmares and Dream Disturbances Associated with Sleep-Wake Transitions,” in Kryger M, Roth T, Dement W (ed.), Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine (5th Edition), St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders, 2011, pages 1106-1115.