The cover illustration shows Matthew Amsterdam in a bed as a monstrous hand emerges from under the bed.
It's a No-Snooze Situation!
Matt hates his tiny bedroom. It's so small it's practically a closet! Still, Matt's mom refuses to let him sleep in the guest room. After all, they might have guests. Some day. Or year. Then Matt does it. Late one night. When everyone's in bed. He sneaks into the guest room and falls asleep. Poor Matt. He should have listened to his mom. Because when Matt wakes up, his whole life has changed. For the worse. And every time he falls asleep, he wakes up in a new nightmare...
Twelve-year-old Matthew "Matt" Amsterdam wishes he was born in another family. His older brother Greg and his sister Pam constantly mock and bully him.
One day, Greg and Pam pick on Matt all day instead of doing their homework. When Matt's mother gets home, she forces Matt to help make dinner. Pam and Greg avoid helping because they have homework to do. At dinner, Matt asks his mother if he can move into the guest room, which is bigger than his. When his mother declines, Matt storms off to his room. That night, Matt sneaks into the guest room and sleeps there anyways.
When Matt wakes up in the guest room the next morning, he finds that he has become a teenager overnight. Matt rushes downstairs and sees his mother. She tells him to get ready for school, not seeming to notice any changes in her son. To Matt's astonishment, he learns that Pam and Greg had become about eleven and twelve years old. A short while later, Matt is dropped off at the high school instead of the school he would normally go to. Matt has an awful time at there, and he is even sent to the principal's office. Matt does his best to explain his experience to the principal, but she doesn't believe him. After school, Matt accidentally knocks over a young, blonde girl with. The girl introduces herself as Lacie. Matt starts to talk to her, but the girl suddenly runs away for apparently no reason. Matt goes home. Since Pam is sleeping in the room that used to be his, Matt is forced to sleep in the guest room again that night.
The next morning, Matt seems to have reverted to his normal self. He races down to the kitchen to see his family, but, to his shock, he finds two completely different people: a man and a woman who say they are his parents. Matt is put into a shiny new car and his new father drives him to a junior high school that Matt's never been to before. At the school, Matt runs into Lacie, the girl that he bumped into the day before. Matt wants to explain that he's met the girl before, but, during lunch, two men appear and start to chase after Matt. Matt sprints home and tries to locate some of his relatives, but they all seem to be gone. Since his old room has been converted into a sewing room, Matt sleeps in the guest room.
When he wakes up, Matt hears many people talking and an accordion playing somewhere within the house. Matt goes to the bathroom and sees that he now looks eight years old. A huge man comes in and orders Matt to get ready for rehearsal. Matt eventually learns that he is the star of a circus. At the circus rehearsal, Matt's new father puts him into a cage with a lion so he can practice his lion-taming act. Terrified, Matt runs from the cage and tries to hide. He bumps in Lacie again. Matt begs Lacie to help him, but the same two men from the previous day come over and chase him. Matt runs into the lion cage, and he manages to get the lion in between him and the men, bluffing that the lion will attack them on his command. Before leaving, the men angrily tell Matt that they will be back. After circus practice, Matt goes home and sleeps in the guest room again.
When he wakes up, Matt learns that he is a hideous monster. Matt remembers Lacie, and — hoping that she would be able to help him — he goes out to find her. When he sees Lacie, she manages to reach Matt and she lead him away from the city to a small house hidden away in a forest. But it turns out that Lacie was leading Matt to the two guys that chased him earlier. Before he can flee, a net is thrown over Matt, and he is taken away to a dark room and falls asleep.
When Matt wakes up, Lacie and the two men, revealed to be Bruce and Wayne, approach him. Lacie explains that when Matt slept in the guest room, he fell through a hole in reality. Now, whenever Matt goes to sleep, he changes what is real and what isn't, breaking the laws of reality.
Lacie then introduces herself, Bruce and Wayne as members of the Reality Police. They were assigned to capture Matt and stop him from changing reality. In order to stop him, they want Matt to drink a potion that will put him to sleep forever. While the Reality Police are making the potion, Matt plans to fall asleep and escape his predicament, which he does.
When wakes up, he finds that he's turned into a squirrel. Matt runs home. Matt guesses that, if he sleeps in his old room, everything will be back to normal. Before he can get to his room, he is spotted by Pam, who wants to keep him as a pet. Matt manages to escape from Pam, and he falls asleep outside on a branch.
Matt wakes up as a twelve-year-old boy again, but he is now obese. This causes the branch he was on to break, and Matt falls. He knocks on his door, and his mother answers. He tries to persuade her to let him into his old room, but she doesn't recognize him. Matt turns around and sees Lacie, Bruce and Wayne approaching. They chase Matt through the neighborhood until he is able to hide in a line of thick shrubs near his house. Matt hides in the bushes until nightfall. After everyone has fallen asleep, Matt climbs up a tree that grew by his window. He manages to climb into his old room without making a sound, and he falls asleep.
The following morning, much to his delight, Matt sees that everything has reverted back to normal. When Matt gets home from school, his mother has a surprise for him; after some contemplation, she has decided that Matt was right when he said his room was too small, and says she will let Matt sleep in the guest bedroom (like he originally wanted).
Reprints and rereleases
2003 - 2007 reprint series
- In France, this book is the 37th book of the Goosebumps series. Its title was translated as "Nuits de cauchemar", which means in English "Nightmarish nights".
The original printing of the book included bookmark and trading card tear-outs.
- One advertisement for Don't Go to Sleep says the protagonist is named Cole. In the final book, the protagonist is named Matthew Amsterdam. This change has never been explained, but there was a main character named Cole in the previous book, Chicken Chicken.
- The two officers of the Reality Police are named Bruce and Wayne. This is a reference to the Batman comics, where Batman's secret identity is named Bruce Wayne.
- Despite that a monstrous hand appears on the cover, there is no monster present in the book (except for Matt, when he turns into a lizard monster.)
- There was an error in the scene where Matt was about to go to sleep to escape from the Reality Police. He tells the reader that his mother told him that he can sleep through a hurricane. It was an error because it was Pam that said that.
- There's an error where Greg says "How can Matt can stand it?". It should say "How can Matt stand it?". This has yet to be fixed in any reprint.
- Matt's sister Pamela may have been named after R.L. Stine's sister, who is also named Pamela.
References in other Goosebumps media
- An achievement in Goosebumps: The Game is called "Don't Go to Sleep!".
- There is a sign for the "Reality Police Department" in the end credits animation of the Goosebumps film.