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The association between nightmare frequency (NMF) and suicidal ideation (SI) is well known, yet the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this relation is inconsistent. This study aimed to investigate changes in NMF, SI, and their association during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were collected in 16 countries using a harmonised questionnaire. The sample included 9328 individuals (4848 women; age M[SD] = 46.85 [17.75] years), and 17.60% reported previous COVID-19. Overall, SI was significantly 2% lower during the pandemic vs. before, and this was consistent across genders and ages. Most countries/regions demonstrated decreases in SI during this pandemic, with Austria (-9.57%), Sweden (-6.18%), and Bulgaria (-5.14%) exhibiting significant declines in SI, but Italy (1.45%) and Portugal (2.45%) demonstrated non-significant increases. Suicidal ideation was more common in participants with long-COVID (21.10%) vs. short-COVID (12.40%), though SI did not vary by COVID-19 history. Nightmare frequency increased by 4.50% during the pandemic and was significantly higher in those with previous COVID-19 (14.50% vs. 10.70%), during infection (23.00% vs. 8.10%), and in those with long-COVID (18.00% vs. 8.50%). The relation between NMF and SI was not significantly stronger during the pandemic than prior (rs = 0.18 vs. 0.14; z = 2.80). Frequent nightmares during the pandemic increased the likelihood of reporting SI (OR = 1.57, 95% CI 1.20-2.05), while frequent dream recall during the pandemic served a protective effect (OR = 0.74, 95% CI 0.59-0.94). These findings have important implications for identifying those at risk of suicide and may offer a potential pathway for suicide prevention.

Original publication




Journal article


J Sleep Res

Publication Date



PTSD, anxiety, depression, long-COVID, post-COVID, suicidality