Random stuff

Nightmares and Dream-shakes

Writing has hit a torturous minimal level at the moment. It’s not that I don’t have the time as the new hours at my job are providing me with a semblance of a normal life and I have more work-life balance than I’ve experienced in a long time. But, exhaustion seems to have taken root and even when I have the time, I just don’t seem to have the energy or get my mind in a good place to be able to put fingertips to keyboard.

The reason for this? Well, we are currently going through numerous sleepless nights courtesy of our little one who has recently started to suffer from nightmares or night terrors. For a parent, it’s actually quite frightening to go through yourself as when he ‘wakes’ from another horrible dream, he cries for what seems likes ages and refuses to let you comfort him. In fact, any form of hug or soothing word, just seems to make him even more hysterical. He is barely awake when this happens and yet moves around quite agitated, kicking his legs or waving his arms about. Eventually he goes off to sleep again; a sleep which seems peppered with more bad dreams as he moans and grumbles his way through the night but on numerous occasions he has found his way to our bed and suddenly his bedroom has become Public Enemy No. 1.

When we try to ask him the next day what he was dreaming about, he simply doesn’t know or just changes the subject (not as an avoidance tactic, he simply doesn’t seem bothered by the previous nights escapades).

It’s more than a little frustrating, because as the parent you want to be able to solve these nightly disturbances and get to the root of the problem – is it something you are doing wrong? What is upsetting your little one? During the day he seems a happy, vibrant little boy and many people have told me that it’s quite common in three-year olds so maybe it’s something we just have to sot out and cope with the best we can.

But, it has got me thinking about the nightmares I experienced as a child. Even as an adult I am subject to regular dreams and even some nightmares but I have always been plagued by them ever since I was small. I had a fairly normal childhood. The nightmares I do remember happened before my parents divorced so I couldn’t accredit any of them to any family problems. We had a nice home in a quiet, peaceful suburban road. I had numerous friends. We used to play in the field behind my friend’s house. We would climb trees, have crap apple fights and sing Adam Ant songs with a line of lipstick plastered across our nose in an effort to look like the Prince Charming pop star. So, there really was nothing I can pin point that caused those nightmares, but I experienced them all the same.

One recurrent one (and this is going to sound a bit spooky) is that I used to dream that people were talking to me all the time. It was almost at that point where you are half-awake, but I used to think different people were talking to me and would hear their voices tumbling over each other, some louder than others, some aggressive, some quieter, but all doing their best to get my attention.

I also used to dream about falling. I can’t say now from what I was falling but I used to dream about landing on my bed and feeling the springs moving beneath me as if I had fallen from a great height. I’ve read or heard since, this is meant to signify your soul falling back into your body as you wake but I don’t know if it’s true….I always quite liked the idea of this for a story though and managed to get some words down on paper a few years ago that has since gone into the ‘I’ll get back to you later’ bin.

As an adult, I dream all the time. I often wake up feeling as if I have run a marathon during the night hours, simply because I have dreamt so much, it’s as if my mind has not been given the same rest that my body was granted. It really is exhausting. I don’t always remember what I have dreamt about, but I have had some particularly nasty ones about my little one running away from me and also one very strange one (don’t laugh) in which I was sold to a laboratory by my parents in exchange for Weetabix vouchers and the scientists turned me into a vile giant insect (okay alright, now you can laugh). I also had a dream about my nan (my maternal grandmother) after she passed away. In the dream, I distinctly remember her holding my hand and can even now remember how it felt as she rubbed the back of my hand affectionately – she used to use Oil of Ulay and her skin was so soft. I didn’t want the dream to end, as it meant she would go and I vaguely recall crying in my sleep.

Whatever the dream, whether bad or good, I think it’s fascinating what remains with you over the years and how certain dreams stick in your head.

Does anyone else remember having recurrent dreams as a child that they still think about now? Have any writers here had dreams which they have used as inspiration for their work?



11 thoughts on “Nightmares and Dream-shakes

  1. You sound like you have some phsycic ability. If you think you have can you come around to my place and get rid of my ghost cat!
    Seriously it could be some kind of phsycic ability and maybe worth investigating. Creepyyyyyyyy


  2. I really feel for your little one. I also suffer from night terrors (yes as an adult!) and have done since I was about 11. However, I’m sure that they will grow out of them, I just didn’t for some reason.

    I wouldn’t worry about it, there’s not much you can do it about. I think my advice would be limit any over stimluating things before bed that may be scary. No caffiene (although probably not really as bad for kids) anywhere near bed time. They normally happen within the first 30 mins or so of falling asleep, so you can’t really control it.

    I’m not sure how old your son is, but it might be worth getting him to write down what he has experienced, so he can reflect on what it is. What kind of night terrors does he get out of interest? What happens in them?

    If I can offer any other help, please let me know! I’m happy to answer any questions.


    1. Hi Beth, thanks for your kind words.

      My son is only 3 years old and I’ve heard its quite common. Luckily this week has not been so bad so I’m hoping it was just a little phase and he will grow out of it quite quickly. His dad was prone to night terrors too and also sleep-walking, so maybe its an hereditary thing?

      We still don’t know what the night terrors were about, he has a canny way of changing the subject whenever we ask him and not wanting to escalate the issue, we try not to dwell on it too much.

      We have changed his before bed-time routine slightly and this seems to be working, so you are absolutely right in trying to make a more calming environment before he goes to bed.

      I think night terrors must be awful at any age, so I feel for you too!


      1. Hello!

        Oh bless him, yeah it’s pretty common at that age. Yeah I’m sure he will grow out of it. I think it is hereditary because my mum used get them (and still does a bit now).

        I know this is quite a random suggestion but do you have an iPhone, there’s a really good app on there that records you when you sleep. Maybe you could try recording him and see if you can hear what he’s saying? You can also see exactly what time it is every night. Sometimes my triggers can be loud noises or unfamiliar lights etc in the room, so you could also check if any of that has happened.

        The best thing I find for me, is just my other half telling me it’s not real and basically just soothing me back to sleep. I think you’re right not to dwell on it, because most of the time I don’t remember until my OH says ‘do you remember doing…. ” then it comes back to me. Obviously if it’s a bit more traumatic I realise what I’m doing.

        Thanks, I’m kind of used to them. I definitely get them more if I’m stressed too, which is frustrating. Calming environment before bed is def a good idea, and also maybe making sure there’s nothing that can create scary shapes in the room or weird lights coming through the window. I hope they stop for him soon, they’re not fun!


      2. Hello Beth! Another good night…am hoping we are over the worst of it but shall def take a look at that iPhone thing if it crops up again.

        Also funnily enough we removed a picture from his wall that seemed to be causing a few issues and since then the nights have definitely been easier.

        Fingers crossed for a few more restful nights!


  3. “Whatever the dream, whether bad or good, I think it’s fascinating what remains with you over the years and how certain dreams stick in your head.”

    Truer words… 🙂

    We were talking about this as a family the other evening, and my teens still remember nightmares they had as kids. Fortunately, they sleep through the night now–even when they wake with nightmares.

    Hang in there!



    1. Thanks Elley, things seem to be much better now thank goodness…we still have a few sleepless nights but much easier to cope with when there’s no bogeymen in the closet to deal with 😉


  4. Dreams are absolutely fascinating aren’t they? I didn’t often dream as a child (or maybe I simply didn’t remember them), though I will always remember one particularly vivid dream in which my dad and I were running from some kind of alien bomber ship which had killed my mother. She was a ghost and traveled with us. It scared me so much and I woke up crying the next morning. These days I seem to dream constantly. They’re usually just good or strange dreams, but I tend to remember many of them and some of them have made their way into my writing in one way or another.


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