Scary Dreams — The Bump
School-Aged Children

Scary Dreams

Our almost six year old and our 3.5 year old share a bedroom and normally the oldest falls asleep right away and the little one chats himself to sleep later but now the oldest has been habitually coming into our room for the past three weeks every night between 1a-3a with "scary dreams" - sometimes he can tell us what it is, sometimes not, but either way it's disrupting everyone's sleep in the house. We have let him sleep in our bed (we never co-sleep-ed), we have laid with him, I have laid on their floor, I'm kind of at a loss. How can I get him to have a good night's sleep? 

A little background - I have a history of headaches/migraines and insomnia and I'm very much hoping he isn't developing all that because it's a wreck.
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Re: Scary Dreams

  • I think it's really normal for 3 year olds to get bad dreams. It's probably just a phase that will pass eventually. My 4 year old stays in her bed much more often then when she was 3. She was getting up all the time for awhile
    IVF, acupuncture, meditation and a miracle. 

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  • Thanks - it's our almost six year old that is having the trouble, I think what's more concerning us is that he will be going back to school soon and it's such a long day, he needs as much rest as possible.

    The little guy sleeps through the night just fine and we aren't as concerned if he were to start because he still takes a nap at school, at least until next school year.
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  • Hm... I don't think it's unusual for a 6 year old to have scary dreams occasionally, but it does seem weird that it's happened several nights in a short period. 

    It could be that he initially did have a scary dream, but that now he's going through a phase of night waking or more restless sleep (which is normal even for good sleepers) and he's discovered he can visit you and get your help dealing with it by saying he is awake because of a "bad dream."  It's pretty normal for kids that age to be scared of the dark and to feel creeped out when they are awake in the dark.

    Can he read?  If so, maybe get him a flashlight and let him keep a book near his bed that he can read to help calm down and go back to sleep.  

    Also, just in case, I'd take a look at what television he's watching and what video games he's playing.  Sometimes my son will see an image in a movie, video, or game that seems perfectly tame during the day but comes back as something scary when he's alone at night -- and my son's 10!  A 6 year old's sense of Real vs. Pretend is still a little blurred. 

    Keeping him busy and physically active during the day might also help him konk out at night.

    Good luck!
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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