dreams and nightmares
Dreams occure in historical documentation back to the earliest civilizations. Nightmares date back just as long. I feel that nightmares are in fact dreams which contain events or items that are considered scary or destructive to the person's sleep patern. Dreams can be about anything that you can possibly imagine and can be good dreams and bad dreams.
The traditional Dream Catcher has been a part of the Native American culture for many generations. One element of it relates to the tradition of the hoop. The hoop is held in the highest regard in some North American Native American tribes and symbolizes unity and strength. It was intended to protect a sleeping individual from negative dreams, while letting positive dreams through. The positive dreams would slip through the hole in the center of the dream catcher, and glide down the feathers to the sleeping person below. The negative dreams would get caught up in the web, and expire when the first rays of the sun struck them.
Children usually are the most likely to have nightmares or night terrors. Children begin having these for many reasons from personal fears such as monsters in the closet or under the bed to they hear their parents fight or watch a scary movie on TV and dream about it later in the night. There is controversy as to if you should wake someone in a nightmare but my personal opinion is I'm going to at least wake my children out of a deep sleep to a lighter stage to help get rid of the nightmare.Here is a link to a good article that helps explain nightmares and night terrors and their differences: http://parentcenter.babycenter.com/0_nightmares-why-they-happen-and-what-to-do-about-them_67319.pc.