Do you ever have bad dreams when you go to sleep?
I'm here to help with a gift you can keep!
It's a nightmare protector, it protects while you snooze.
It gives you dream powers which you'll never lose.
So starts the story of Zero, the Dream Hero, who is here to empower your child to have good dreams every night. He does this by giving a nightmare protector, a mask that makes them into a dream hero too!
If you know a child who is struggling with nightmares, you know how disruptive it can be to an entire household. The child is fearful, and the parents are exhausted. We would like to provide a solution that empowers children and allows parents to enjoy sleep again!
When my youngest daughter, Olivia, was 5, she started having nightmares. The bad dreams became bad enough that she rarely stayed in her own bed all night. I tried everything I could think of: nightlights, white noise, bedtime stories, warm drinks and baths at night… I usually resorted to staying with her until she fell asleep. If you have a child who gets scared at bedtime, you are probably familiar with the painstaking slow army crawl necessary to leave the room without waking your child…
Like most parents of a child who has nightmares, I was exhausted. Most nights I just gave in and let her sleep with me. I knew this wasn't a great long-term plan, but I wasn't sure what to do.
It was my oldest daughter, Emma, who was nine at the time, who came up with the solution. She came across a sleep mask I received from a recent red-eye flight.
Emma explained it was a “Nightmare Protector” designed to protect kids from nightmares. She said she could "program" it to make Olivia dream whatever she wanted that night. Together, they came up with an ideal dream. Then they programmed the mask to create the dream.
Emma placed the nightmare protector over Olivia’s eyes and explained that if she took it off, the mask would have to be reprogrammed. She finished the ritual by saying “Sweet Dreams” and quietly left the room. It worked!
Later, when researching bad dreams, I learned that there have been studies done proving people can learn to control their dreams. Emma, without realizing it, had tapped into this power. Her technique allowed Olivia to feel empowered in controlling her own dreams. By believing she was able to be in charge of her dreams, she became able to do so! The Nightmare Protectors became a game changer for our household. Bedtime became fun again. Each night we'd have a great time coming up with Olivia's dreams for the night. We've come up with some entertaining and wild stories!
The next year in school, the girls had the chance to do a project at school in which they got to choose the topic within specific guidelines. Olivia chose to show how she had repurposed an ordinary object and created a presentation about Nightmare Protectors.
Emma chose to learn what it would take to create a new business. For her project, she researched and learned she’d have to create a business plan. She discovered what it would take to build a website, source nightmare protectors, and advertise. She developed a budget and held a meeting where she presented to investors (me, my fiancée, and her grandparents!). We chose to invest and Nightmare Protector, as a company, was born.
Here they are presenting:
Over the next year, Nightmare Protectors changed several times. At one point, Olivia had another nightmare even though she was wearing one. Emma explained she had forgotten to charge it, and for weeks we would place the Nightmare Protector on a phone charger during the day. We debated making that a part of the product, but decided against it. One night, Olivia couldn’t find one in time for bed. Emma mentioned that she had some invisible ones in her room. That night she wore an invisible Nightmare Protector and lo and behold, it worked! Even so, after that, we made sure we were never without one.
This is what it looked like under Olivia’s pillow:
Somewhere along the way, Nightmare Protectors, Zero, and the book became an entire family project. Once we started ordering samples to design the perfect Nightmare Protector, my middle daughter, Sophia, (who is the fashion expert in the family) became involved. My husband, Scott, not only built the website and provided technical support, but he was the driving force behind taking this from a fun dream that we joked about into a reality. Alex and Jason, stepsons, listened to countless versions of the story and provided suggestions to improve it. All of the kids have become doll and fabric experts as we design and refine what Zero looks like.
We genuinely see our idea as a way we, as a family, can help other families. We brainstormed for months to come up with ways we could bring the magic of our Nightmare Protectors to other families even though they were nothing more than simple sleep masks.
We all decided that in order to share that magic, Nightmare Protectors needed a story. It’s always been my dream to write a book, so I gave it a try. My first version of the book was over 20 full pages long! After many versions, I eventually cut the story down enough to fit into a picture book. In my opinion, it’s far more challenging to write a short story than a long one! It’s been a significant learning process.
Before writing the book, I spent months researching sleep, nightmares, and solutions psychologists provide. I rewrote the story many times to incorporate my research. For example, the entire story is meant to make the child who is struggling with nightmares feel empowered. By having a superhero like mask, they become their own hero, able to create their own dreams. This was a crucial part of Olivia overcoming her fear of bad dreams.
I also wanted the story to address all the problems parents might have with nightmare protectors. I got stuck on “What if my child still has a nightmare?” My solution was a character, Zero the Dream Hero. Zero stays with the child at night to help out with dreams if a child wakes up. In addition to empowerment, psychologists suggest a transition item children can sleep with as a solution to bad dreams. Zero also serves the purpose of the transition item, as he is a soft "lovey" type doll who also helps protect the child.
Here's Emma's first drawing of what Zero looks like (at first we called him Dreammaker, which is why it says DM):
We recently received our first prototype of Zero! He's obviously come a long way.
Now we want YOU to be part of bringing Zero the Dream Hero and nightmare protectors to families whose lives are disrupted by nightmares.