I don’t have a lot of vivid dreams, at least when it comes to what goes through my mind during REM sleep. Or maybe it’s just that when I wake up, I don’t remember my dreams. In any case, all of that changed during the coronavirus pandemic, which feels like a long nightmare even when you’re awake.
My sleep habits got worse when I was stuck in my apartment. Since I had nowhere to go, I stayed up much later than usual and didn’t set an alarm. Some days I got up early, and other days I slept until noon. When I went to sleep, I started having dreams that seemed very real, and I even remembered them the next day. In one, I was my current age and with my maternal grandmother. (She’s been dead for 25 years.) I woke up confused, and when I realised she wasn’t there, it felt like my mind had played a cruel joke on me while I was sleeping.
Dream About Being Quarantined
Eating without restraint: Many of us eat “comfort foods” for every meal. (As an example, Instagram kept track of the great banana bread bake-off.) Not working out regularly: It’s hard to find time to work out when you work from home, take care of (and school) your kids, and don’t have a lot of space.
Unreliable sleep: racing thoughts, waking up in the middle of the night, and not being able to go back to sleep are all signs that stress is affecting your sleep. This is why you may be sleeping much more or much less than usual right now. Dr. Breus says, “Many people have told me that their dreams are directly about the coronavirus. They dream about hospitals, illness, and having trouble breathing.” These kinds of dreams can also be signs of sleep apnea.
“Dream incorporation” is more likely to be the reason. Jennifer Martin, a clinical psychologist and member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told CNBC that dream incorporation is when something you see or do in real life shows up in your dreams. “If you spend two hours watching the news or reading about COVID-19 right before bed, it’s likely that [these things] will show up in your dreams,” she said. During the pandemic, many of us are having more nightmares and dreams that are about bad things. Research is being done in several countries, including one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus, Italy, as well as a study that is still going on in France. The Italian study found that many of its participants have nightmares that are as bad as those of people with post-traumatic stress disorder.
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Scientists say that our subconscious is often a safe place to deal with painful memories (which includes dreaming). But because of the way we sleep, it’s even harder for our minds to figure out how to deal with bad feelings. Patrick McNamara, an expert on dreams and associate professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine, told National Geographic that we usually use REM sleep and dreams to deal with strong emotions, especially negative ones. “It’s clear that this pandemic is causing a lot of worry and stress.” Dr. Breus says that people’s dreams are getting weirder, with strange characters and vivid mixtures of the usual and the strange. And these dreams often feel different, like they are more striking, full of meaning, vivid, and real, even if the things that happen in them aren’t real.One idea is that, just like in real life, the most intense or unusual experiences are the ones that stick out the most.
Even so, having more dreams and remembering them isn’t always a bad thing. Dreams can be like a dress rehearsal for real-life threats and challenges. They can help us get ready for something we’re looking forward to. “Dreams are a way for our brains to work through stressful events to reduce their psychological load and make them less disruptive to daily life,” says Dr. Breus.
What’s not great is if your dreams keep you from getting enough sleep. Seek help from a therapist if your anxiety is getting worse. Try these tips and these relaxing yoga poses to see if they help you get a better night’s sleep. Or, try putting a few drops of THE WELL’s Relax essential oil on your pillow before bed.
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