A distinction between self-reported dreams and nightmares made it possible to test the relative sensitivity of these nonwaking cognitions to different kinds of life stressors including combat expasure, childhood and adolescent stressom, and recent life events. Survey interview data were collected on 442 men from the cohort eligible for military duty during the Vietnam Conflict who varied in their partiapation in that war. Dreams were over 3.5 times more prevalent than nightmares. Nevertheless, it was the prevalence, frequency, and content of nightmares, not dreams, that were consistently associated with life stresors. Links between nonwaking cognitions and life stressors are explored with regard to hypothesized mechanisms involving affect and cognition, wish fulfillment, and working-through processes.