Monsters Under The Bed & Other Youthful Nightmares

Many of us in our younger days were fearful of monsters or serpents or some other dangerous predator hiding under our beds that would come and attack us when the lights were out. I personally used to have horrible nightmares as a child (not so much as an adult) that left me terrified of the dark back in my early years. Personally I believe that this is a throwback to our prehistoric past when perhaps there actually were dangerous predators that would crawl or slither into our caves and attack us in the dark, but I am curious. Has there ever been any type of study to indicate why so many of us as small children were so fearful of monsters under the bed or the infamous “Boogeyman” and why are young children often plagued with horrible nightmares? Your input is welcome.

In my case it was a story told by my mother to stop me leaving my bed after lights out. In weighing up the options of being punished by a human in the morning or eaten by a wolf in the dark I usually chose bed wetting.

Some kind of separation anxiety? I’d be curious to see if extended family foraging groups with more communal sleeping arragements have the same nightmares.

My son is almost three and sleeps between us most nights, he sometimes has a nightmare that has him screaming and crying and can take a long time to console him. So I’m going to say yes.

Hm, my brother had night terrors, but according to my mother I only had one screaming nightmare growing up when I was about 5. Apparently I had watched Santa Claus Conquerors the Martians and gone to bed, and while I was in the right sleep state and apparently dreaming about the movie a moth hit me on the butt which filtered into the dream as me being attacked. Apparently when she and Marie came in to tuck me back in I was babbling something about drowning in chocolate, Santa and Martians.

Don’t ask me I was like 5 years old and don’t remember a thing. :smack:

As an adult, I can report that other than a brief 6 months I lived in Brockport NY, I really never had nightmares. I have screwy dreams, but they are not frightening, more the kind you wake up and think what the fuck was that all about to yourself.

My four year old currently does not want to go to sleep because he is afraid he will get bad dreams. Our compromise is he can get to sleep in our bed and when we go to sleep we carry him back to his own bed.
Also, I found a nighttime book to read to him, the berenstain bears and the bad dream. My son is fascinated, wants to hear that story again and again. The story actually explains at the toddler level what a bad dream is; and that it is real in your head, but not the other kind of real. It seems to work somewhat!

I suspect that a four year old who did not fear wild animals would not last very long in the ancestral environment. If there are no wild animals around in the modern context the fear might be transferred to vaguely shaped monsters, aggressive and larger than the toddler.