The following is a visitor-submitted question or story. For more, you can submit your own sleep story here, or browse the collection of experiences and questions other visitors have shared here.

My Son Has Horrible Dreams and Doesn't Know Why He Gets Them

by Debra Ingleson
(Essex , England)

My son has recently told me he has terrible nightmares about fire and explosions. I don't let him watch any adult television but he does watch Ben 10 which I think doesn't help. In fact he has asked me to delete all of the Ben 10s he has recorded.

His grandad was a fireman and he knows how dangerous being a fireman is and is very proud of his grandad and I wonder if fire and an emotional attachment gives him these terrors.

I was cuddling him before bed tonight and he said mummy why do I have such horrible dreams? They are very scary and I don't like them. I don't want to go to sleep.

I was so sad for my son. I didn't know whether to ask him more about the dreams in case it made him dream the bad dream he has or just to leave it. I say to him think happy thoughts and think of holidays and being with mummy, daddy and your sister but he says it won't work nothing works.

I just don't know what to do next. How do I help him with these dreams? Do I ask him to explain every aspect to see if there's some deep root cause?

He doesn't seem to wake up with them but he wakes up early around 5am and says he can't go back to sleep otherwise the dreams will come. He never comes out of his room into ours.

He is such a gentle, sensitive boy who doesn't deserve these dreams. How can I help him? He is 6.

Kevin: Hi Debra, Thanks for writing in. While he is young, perhaps it is a good time to start educating him about dreams, and exposing him to the idea of lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is an acquired skill that can be used for nightmare control--essentially becoming conscious of the fact that your nightmare is just a dream created by your mind, and that you have the power to change the subject matter, to turn that big scary monster into a little bunny rabbit! Or, to make it rain when there is a fire.

There have been several visitors here who have written in with experiences about nightmare control. Here are a couple:


(Please keep in mind that I am a student of sleep science and not a medical doctor. Please take any thoughts I give with my background in mind.)

Comments for My Son Has Horrible Dreams and Doesn't Know Why He Gets Them

Click here to add your own comments

May 03, 2013
post NEW
by: Anonymous


May 03, 2013
post NEW
by: Anonymous


Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Experiences With Sleep Disorders In Children.

Enjoy this page? Please help us pay it forward to others who would find it valuable by Liking, Sharing, Tweeting, Stumbling, and/or Voting below.

About This Site

Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

In fact, we challenge you to do so! What do you say, are you up for the challenge?

A Note On Visitor-Submitted Questions:

Publishing sleep stories and questions from our visitors is meant to create a forum for open and proactive dialogue about an extremely important portion of our lives (one that occupies 1/3 of it and affects the other 2/3) that isn't talked about enough. It is not meant to substitute a trip to the doctor or the advice of a specialist. It's good to talk; it is not good to avoid consulting someone who's profession it is to help you with this kind of stuff.

If you are in any way concerned about your sleep health, don't wait for an answer on here, and don't necessarily rely on them. See a sleep specialist in your area as soon as possible.

More Questions:

Ask | Answer

The Stanford Sleep Book

Stanford Sleep Book Picture

Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.

In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.

Preface | Intro | Contents | Get A Copy

More Sleep Resources

The Zeo

A revolution in personal sleep tracking, the Zeo is a wireless headband that transmits your brainwaves in realtime to a dock (pictured here) or your smartphone. The result? You can wake up and see exactly what stages of sleep you were in during the night! Unprecedented personalized sleep knowledge.

Sleep Paralysis: A Dreamer's Guide

Sleep Paralysis Treatment Book

Ever woken up paralyzed? A surprising number of us have, believe it or not. But few know the actual causes of this phenomenon, and fewer still how to exert control over it. Dream researcher and sleep paralysis expert Ryan Hurd shares breakthrough insights into how to do just that.

Important Disclaimer

Please Note:

The information found on this page and throughout this site is intended for general information purposes only. While it may prove useful and empowering, it is NOT intended as a substitute for the expertise and judgments of healthcare practitioners.

For more info, see our
Terms of Use.